Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 256
Genres: Classics

'To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive'

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine's love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.
My third Jane Austen novel, and I must say I enjoyed Northanger Abbey infinitely more than Persuasion. However, I didn't completely fall in love with it.

Northanger Abbey actually does provide a great contrast to Persuasion, the former feeling quite youthful and fun, whilst the latter is depressing and mature in tone. I found this novel quite slow to start but once it got going it was really entertaining. I really like the heroine, Catherine, she was very likable and relatable. I wasn't wholly convinced of Henry Tilney's heartthrob status as there was nothing about him that seemed that special to me. The romance was a bit bland, I didn't really get the impression that Henry was even that interested in Catherine for the majority of the book. It seemed like General Tilney showed more interest in her!

I love letters being used as a plot device, its just so cute as in almost every Jane Austen book I have read so far, letters provide the best revelations. I found the plot slow moving with the bit featuring Northanger Abbey not even happening until the second half. Nonetheless, I found some of Austen's cutting commentary about novels and gothic novels in particular really amusing.

It wasn't until I watched the 2007 adaptation starring Felicity Jones and Carey Mulligan, that I really appreciated this book. That adaptation really brought the book to life, and I thought it was just so fantastic and really funny. The burgeoning romance really smouldered between the Henry and Catherine, which is not something I really picked up on in the book.

Overall, I liked the youthful tone of this novel but it wasn't anything great to be honest.

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