Author: Jane Austen
First Published: 1817
Page Count: 125
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 4/5 Stars
It’s not one of Austen’s best stories but it will satisfy any of her fans with its entertaining characters and intrigue.
*Exciting second half of the novel
*Beginning is slow *Dull main character
“Beware how you give your heart.” Catherine Morland is lucky enough to spend some months with her generous neighbors on a trip to Bath which will expose her to more people of society then she would have access to in rural Fullerton where she lives. She instantly befriends the children of the Thorpe family, specifically one of the three daughters, Isabella. She also finds herself becoming close to the Tilney family which is due to the fact that she has become besotted with one of the sons, Henry Tilney. However, not everything or everyone is what they seem, and Catherine must discover who her true friends are and what it feels like to be betrayed.
I’ve only got three more of Austen’s novels to get through before I’ve conquered them all, so I figured I’d hurry my progress along and try Northanger Abbey. Though this is definitely not one of my favorite of Austen’s books, it still is a satisfying read because it contains all the elements of a good Jane Austen novel: interesting personalities personified in her quirky characters, romance, and some 19th century plot twists. It isn’t until you get to the second half of the book that you’ve been introduced to all the characters and their importance to the story starts to take form. Austen has some great twists that I didn’t see coming, but it all happens very quickly at the end. Once Catherine makes it to Northanger Abbey, that is when the novel really gets going, but the beginning in Bath is just as necessary even if it pales in comparison to the events at the end.
I was excited to read Northanger Abbey because I thought it would be a fun change from her other works with its concentration on Gothic literature. While there is reference too it a lot, there is really only one event that really plays off of the adventurous appeal of gothic novels. That was a little disappointing; I thought there would be more of a supernatural element to the setting that gives its name to the book. Besides that, the beginning of the book is a little slow since Catherine is mostly just getting to know her new friends in Bath and all of the intrigue unfolds once she gets to Northanger. In fact, there were so few pages in the book left once she got there, I was almost wondering if we were ever going to be introduced to the infamous abbey. I also found Catherine to be a dull character, especially compared to the witty or silly secondary characters around her. Like Fanny Price of Austen’s other book, Mansfield Park, Catherine was too good of a person and so innocent that it made her boring. I guess I’ve learned that I prefer Austen’s more bold characters like Elizabeth of Pride and Prejudice.
If you are a die-hard fan of Jane Austen, you of course need to check out this book. If you’re thinking of getting into Jane Austen I would suggest starting with one of her more popular works like Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice since those are sure to please. However, at the end of the day, Jane Austen is a fantastic writer and this book stands well against her previous works.
*TV Adaptations: (TV Episode, Starring Peter Firth 1987), (TV Movie, Starring Felicity Jones 2007)