Secretly, I much prefer Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park to anything else written by Jane Austen, even Pride and Prejudice, which we re all supposed to claim as our favorite because it is one of the Greatest books Ever Written In the English Language I don t DISLIKE Pride and Prejudice, but I just don t think it stands up to this one I m sorry, but it s true Northanger Abbey feels like two very different stories that eventually merge into one at the end the story of feisty, level headed romance novel addict Catherine Morland and her adventures in Bath during the party season, falling in love and making new friends and escaping unpleasant suitors and the story of Catherine s post Bath vacation with her new best friend Eleanor back to Eleanor s country home, a huge creepy old place called Northanger Abbey Catherine s obsession with bloodthirsty Gothic novels leads her to see a mystery or a creepy secret in every room eventually leading her to suspect Eleanor s grumpy dad of having unceremoniously murdered his own wife, OR, possibly, of locking her up in a hidden dungeon somewhere inside the abbey , and her various misadventures and misunderstandings make for top shelf farce But then when a REAL mystery arrives on her doorstep taking us back into the world of Bath and bringing the two stories together , she realizes that she s been looking at things upside down and backwards the whole time This book has some real,heartfelt drama and romance, but mainly I like it because it s really, really funny Catherine is awesome and kind of nuts, and the supporting characters run the gamut from really likeable and charming Eleanor and her brother Henry to the excruciatingly irritating John and Isabella, who totally beat out both Mrs Bennet, Aunt Norris, and Lucy Steele in my list of Best Ever Annoying Jane Austen Characters.
I don t even know what to say This book was such a flippin blast.
coOkay, that s a little bit of a lie I know the most important thing I have to say First and foremost I M IN LOVE WITH HENRY TILNEY.
SO FUNNY, smart, handsome, owns a cute house, and dare I saywoke He s the best But let me backtrack a bit.
Northanger Abbey is Austen s satire, and she pokes fun at gothic horror books by having her heroine, Catherine, believe she s essentially in one AND SO MUCH GOOD COMES OUT OF THIS The satire is hilarious there s one moment, for example, when what Catherine believes is a spooky, ghastly scroll is really a list of the contents of a linen closet But right when it s about to stop being funny, and you re getting just the teensiest bit annoyed at Catherine s na vet , it ends She confesses to Henry, whose father she believes is a murderer, and he gently shoots her down while still being all, I love you, girl It s really great AUSTEN IS A TALENT.
That s the wonderful bit about this satire, IMO I don t alwayssss love literary satire, because it gives me secondhand embarrassment cringes But this is satire within another narrative atypical Austen storyline So it s funny and biting, while also being cute and happy and having adorable characters and a lovely ending Talk about a TOTAL win win, amiright There are also even MORE plus sides to this Austen makes a lot of sweeping generalizations about heroines and plots and books, and they are all hysterically funny and insanely accurate She also writes a few amazing defenses of fiction isn t that wild, y all While we re out here with people trying to make others feel bad for liking YA, our sistas in Austen s lifetime couldn t even read novels without judgment So crazy Call me crazy, but I d rather someone insult my intellect for having read Sarah J Maas than have to read 19th century TEXTbooks in order to be considered marriage material Bleh Total nightmare, no Let s count our blessings and chill the hell out for one freaking second But I digress Let s talkabout those characterssss They are, in turn, perfectly hate able and lovable Hang on I ll explain.
When people are all, She s a villain I love to hate I seriously never understand I don t ever love hating characters It makes reading unpleasant, usually, even villains Like Levana from The Lunar Chronicles, or whatever I just hated her I didn t enjoy hating her She got on my nerves and I was displeased whenever she showed up.
ButIsabella and her brother in this book Pretty hilarious They re super annoying Isabella uses people, is self obsessed, and lies all the time her brother is a total self serving asshole But when sweet lil Catherine is utterly ignorant to their flaws It s really funny The way Isabella s dialogue is written in particular made me laugh a lot, genuinely Do people actually laugh out loud while reading on the reg But also there are characters who are so intensely lovable Especially my husband Catherine, for one thing She could be a little irritating, because she s SO immature sometimes, but she s just, like, a good person to her core who is so kind to those around her You can t hate her At least I couldn t, and I hate most characters.
But let s talkabout bae You can t see me, but I actually just turned into a literal heart eyes emoji from the neck up Henry Tilney is a charmer from the SECOND he shows up The banter he has with Catherineunreal Austen outdoes herself Now I wanna reread their meeting scene Ugh Literally a heart eyes emoji.
And ultimately, this is just a bananas well written book A real masterpiece Some of Austen s most famous quotes are from this book, and it totally makes sense why Here are a couple fresh examplesThe person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature See what I mean I just read this book and I already wanna pick it up again.
Bottom line Charming characters, hilarity, biting satire, gorgeous quotesIt s Austen at her best But when isn t she at her best Jane Austen s novels are just about romance and na ve women There just another telling of boy meets girl in an uninspiring way with a few social issues thrown in Well, ashamed as I am to admit it, that is what I used to believe in my woefully idiotic ignorance How foolish of me Now that I ve actually bothered to read one of her novels, because I had to for university purposes, I realise how stupid I was to actually think this Jane Austen is one of, if not the, best novelists of all time If you disbelieve me, and held a similar opinion to my own, then read one of her novels and find out for yourself That being said though Catherine, the protagonist of this novel, is somewhat ignorant and na ve to the ways of the world but, she had to be Indeed, if not Austen would have been unable to achieve such an endearing comment on the absurdity of society, the role of women in that said society, and the ignorance toward the unpopular literary craft of the novel How else if not though the eyes of an innocent young girl who cannot understand the mechanisms of these aspects of the world Who when thrust into the pump room a sort of ball room for dance and socialising has virtually no idea how to behave Catherine has an immeasurable misunderstanding of the intentions of others, and a misguided view that the world is like one of her beloved books a romantic adventure with a little bit of popular gothic thrown in for excitement She cannot comprehend the reasoning behind her friend, Isabella Thorpe s, behaviour and how she is only leading her brother along she cannot understand that Henry s father is not a gothic villain, but a man in mourning with a harsh temper her vision has become obscuredCatherine s blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which naturally sprang from these words Could it be possible Could Henry s father And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions This is achieved through a narration that is a work of genius Austen has satirised the conventions of gothic literature by writing a semi gothic novel herself that is focalised through the experience of Catherine Catherine is well read, but only as far as the gothic genre allows This has clouded her interpretation of the events that occur around her, consequently, life to her has become akin to the works by authors such as Radcliffe This means that by the time that Catherine arrives at the abbey she expects it to be this place of utter darkness and dread she expects to be a gothic castle and the home to a tyrannical gothic villain However, when the veil is lifted and she realises that her life is in fact not a book and the motivations of the people in it are not what she thought them to be, the revelation of how foolish she has been dawns upon her I m not going to lie, I felt like Catherine at this point I held a ridiculous opinion that when lifted allowed me to see the work of Austen for what it was utter brilliance I love Northanger Abbey it is brilliant Jane Austen is the master of her craft her work is what she argued the novel to beOnly some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language A creepy mansion Dark and stormy nights and Jane Austen just having fun with usNow I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again Seventeen year old Catherine Morland, as innocent and na ve a heroine as Austen ever created, with no particular distinguishing characteristics except goodhearted sincerity and an overfondness for Gothic novels, is invited to stay in Bath for several weeks with kindly and wealthy neighbors She meets a new bestie, Isabella as well as Henry Tilney, a guy who s far too quick not to mention wealthy for her But he has a weakness for cute girls who totally admire him.
Their relationship strikes me as weak, probably because Austen was focusedon creating a parody by turning Gothic conventions on their heads than on creating a compelling heroine and romance Henry is a great character, but Catherine really isn t quite up to his level, despite all of Jane Austen s rationalizations though maybe that s true to life sometimes However, I comfort myself with the thought that Catherine isn t unintelligent, just young and inexperienced I have faith in Henry s ability to kindly help her learn to thinkdeeply and critically.
Austen inserts a lot of sarcastic side comments mocking Gothic plot elements, like Catherine s father being not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters and her mother instead of dying in bringing the latter sons into the world, as anybody might expect, still living on in inexplicably good health But Austen also takes the time, whilst skewering Gothic novels, to make a few pleas to readers in favor of novels generally And she creates one of her most deliciously shallow and hypocritical characters in Isabella, whose mendacious comments, along with Henry s sarcastic ones, were the biggest pleasure in this book for me.
When Catherine is invited to visit with Henry s family at the formidable Northanger Abbey, all her Gothic daydreams finally seem poised to come true A mysterious heavy chest in her bedroom, with silver handles broken perhaps prematurely by some strange violence an odd locked area of the house a man she suspects of doing away with his wife Gasp Austen makes fun of it all, and Catherine s disturbed imagination along with it Catherine repeatedly gets shot down and then makes firm although not necessarily long lasting resolutions not to let her imagination run away with her in the future But it seems likely that, in the end, she s gained some experience and wisdom.
Not to mention view spoiler Henry hide spoiler
Allen he has the fashionable gout , the most famous resort in England Mrs Allen needs an agreeable companion to talk to, she s rather silly, asks Catherine Her chief interest is clothes, still how long can you speak about fashion, before it gets tiresome The fatigued husband doesn t stay in her presence very long Arriving in town is exciting and daunting, soon people start to notice Miss Catherine Morland particularly young men, a new experience for her She grew up a tomboy playing outside with the boys, not inside with dolls Yet the last three years her homely awkwardness has vanished, a pleasant, pretty appearance she acquires that even her astonished mother, acknowledges Catherine soon forms a friendship with Isabella Thorpe a beautiful, deceitful, gold digger, her family has little, but she has at 21, time is running out for her to catch a rich husband It doesn t take long to discover that Catherine s brother James, and Isabella s brother John, are best friends, so naturally the two ladies also become too Then the brothers of the girls come to town, unexpectedly Catherine loves her plain looking older brother, and you can imagine the shock that she feels, when James and Isabella become engaged Yes, it s the first time Catherine has been out of her insulated village, of Fullerton Still true love has a rocky road to travel, when it isn t Henry Tilney a wealthy man s son, meets the charming Catherine at a dance She has eyes for him, but so does Isabella s annoying brother John, for her he s always talking about his horses However Henry s older brother Captain Frederick Tilney, arrives too, very popular Bath is for romance and starts flirting with Isabella, which she doesn t mind but James does He hasmoney than Catherine s brother The resort is famous for the miraculous waters, though most go there for the dancing, plays, card games and walking around in the Grand Pump Room and meeting the rich Showing everyone who s interested they re in town, nobody is Later Catherine is invited by General Tilney the father of Henry, to go to Northanger Abbey, his home Amazingly a real Gothic house with his son, and daughter Eleanor, another friend of Catherine s and stay a few weeks The girl with a wild imagination is thrilled, finally, all Catherine s dreams have come to pass It is only a novel or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language Well, I guess Jane Austen wrote my review of her novel in her novel That s a bit annoying, as I can t compete with her wit of course But evenannoying is the fact that I wrote my own imaginary review in my head before I started the book and as opposed to Austen s summary, mine doesn t work out at all any, now that I know the story It is dangerous to check the facts before writing your opinion for facts have the frustrating habit of changing your opinions if you dare to leave the realm of your fiction.
Like the young heroine in Northanger Abbey, I seemed to have lost grip of fiction and reality recently due to an overly greedy consumption of novels Like the young heroine, I thought I knew what to expect of characters, setting and plot before I had even ventured out to explore them, and like her, I created a massive amount of tension for myself, only to find myself in the somewhat silly situation of waking up to a reality that did not at all justify my preconceived ideas Let s say I prided myself in knowing what to expect of Jane Austen Let s say I started full of prejudices Let s say that I had to force myself to come to my senses after a roller coaster that tested my sensibilitythan I am willing to admit Let s say I thought I had a perfect review in the making, following the idea of explaining the exaggerated characters and dramatic actions with regard to Austen s time, place and gender I was going to put Northanger Abbey in its place liking it for its classic status, but dismissing it secretly as irrelevant in the modern context I was going to compare it to earlier works of Gothic fiction, and maybe even to my timeless favourite Dickens and his comically evil villains and puritan heroes But no It won t do.
She s a bloody genius, Jane Austen if one can still say that nowadays without involuntarily insulting her intelligence and judgment Exaggerated characters The Thorpes too vain, greedy, shallow and stupid Eh show me the person in high society today that is NOT equally vulgar, volatile and obvious Ridiculous naivety of the heroine Eh we have people organising Flat Earth Conferences and it isn t even fiction or satire, but plain truth.
Old fashioned family structures Eh if the eternal generation conflict was solved in the meantime, I must have missed it Can you send me the action plan, please So, if there is anything dated in Jane Austen, it must be the lovable character of her protagonist, her passionate argument for reading novels , and her linguistically convincing prose Well, for those minor defects I am willing to forgive her, in the name of classic literature She s proof that literature can always transcend the narrow boundaries of its time and place It can speak to readers all over the world, in the most various life circumstances as long as the message is honest and rings true.
Loved it Despite all my pride and prejudice, with all my sense and sensibility.
Jane Austen S First Novel Published Posthumously InTells The Story Of Catherine Morland And Her Dangerously Sweet Nature, Innocence, And Sometime Self Delusion Though Austen S Fallible Heroine Is Repeatedly Drawn Into Scrapes While Vacationing At Bath And During Her Subsequent Visit To Northanger Abbey, Catherine Eventually Triumphs, Blossoming Into A Discerning Woman Who Learns Truths About Love, Life, And The Heady Power Of Literature The Satirical Novel Pokes Fun At The Gothic Novel While Earnestly Emphasizing Caution To The Female Sex A charming early Austen novel filled with overt criticism of Mrs Radcliffe and implied criticism of Fanny Burneybut this is very gentle criticism indeed, since young Jane is obviously a huge fan of both writers Her heroine Catharine Morland is a charming naif in the Evelina mode perhaps just a little too naive, and therein lies some of the criticism who is fascinated by all things gothic and therefore misinterprets much of what she sees, manufacturing the sinister in a score of places and yet not recognizing real evil when it stares her in the face The book, while filled with good sense, is nevertheless lighthearted and very funny, and may well be the sunniest of Austen s works.
Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans Let us not desert one another, we are an injured body Although our productions have affordedextensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers And while the abilities of the nine hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens, there seems almost a general with of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them I am no novel reader I seldom look into novels Do not imagine that I often read novels It is really very well for a novel Such is the common cant And what are you reading, Miss Oh it is only a novel replies the young lady while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein Do you know why you are here Mr Keeten Keeten I don t even know where I am Stein You are before the Book Tribunal I rubbed my jaw Keeten Did Hemingway have to slug me Stein Fetching, people such as yourself, to appear before this tribunal seems to be the one thing that Hemingway does enjoy about serving on the panel.
Hemingway gave a short bark of a laugh Ernest HemingwayStein Let me introduce Charlotte Bronte and of course you ve met Mr Hemingway.
I waved at Bronte Hemingway gave me a salute I gave him a tight nod and my jaw another rub Stein You have been assigned counsel Mr F Scott Fitzgerald Keeten Yes I would like to talk to him Maybe he can explain what this is all about Where is he Stein I do believe he is under your table.
I leaned over and spied a slumped form softly snoring I grabbed a shoulder and rolled him over Gin fumes teared up my eyes.
Keeten Miss Stein I need a new counsellor Stein I m afraid that is impossible You ve told many people that Fitzgerald is your favorite writer and the rules of this tribunal is that your favorite writer represents you Keeten I d like to change that to Gore Vidal.
Bouts of laughter greet this request Only then did I realize that the seats behind me were full of dead writers I waved to Kurt Vonnegut and he gave me a wink Keeten Was something I said humorous Stein In the short time that Mr Vidal has joined us he has been requested many times, but unfortunately no one has been before us that actually considered him to be their favorite writer Hemingway You chose unwisely Fitzgerald over me what a joke that is.
Keeten I think your work is swell Hemingway and Miss Bronte, I really loved Villette.
Stein Okay, okay Mr Keeten enough with the flattering What do you think of my work Keeten ErhhhHer mannish features framed a pronounced grimace.
Stein That s okay Mr Keeten I won t force you to manufacture platitudes, very few people can really understand and appreciate my work I thought a change of subject was in order.
Keeten Why exactly am I here Stein It is regarding Jane Austen.
I felt my blood run a little cold Keeten I just finished reading Northanger Abbey.
Stein Yes we know In the past you have made some rather cutting remarks about Miss Austen.
Keeten I won t deny that I harbored some resentment, not towards Miss Austen as much as towards a survey class I was forced to take in college Stein You sir, are parsing words Hemingway interrupted Isn t it time for a drink Stein Why not Djuna Barnes walked out with a silver tray filled with shots of gin and as the glass clinked on the table in front of me Fitzgerald sprang up like a jack in the box with his hand out, fingers none too steady, reaching for a glass He slammed the shot down his throat and before I could tilt my own glass up he d already slid back beneath the table The gin hit my stomach like a mariachi band.
As Barnes walked back by me after serving the judges, looked in the prime of life like all the judges, although that was up for debate with Stein, I said you are prettier than your pictures Djuna BarnesBarnes Save it You are not even remotely my type I could feel the heat on my neck climbing up to my cheeks She flipped my chin with her finger Barnes Good luck anyway Stein If you are finished annoying Miss Barnes, Mr Keeten, can we proceed Keeten Of course.
Stein As you were saying.
Keeten I apologize to Miss Austen if any of my remarks were inappropriately expressed I can assure her that I have the utmost respect for her as a writer In fact I intend to write a very positive review about Northanger Abbey.
Stein The writer in question is not allowed to attend the proceedings, but we will express your regret for your behavior to her We have a party that we must get to Mr Keeten so we are going to wrap this up It is our intention here today to give you a warning about expressing yourself in such flippant ways about the works of the members of this novelist community in the future If we feel the need to call you back again I can assure youstrident discussion will be conveyed to you Keeten Yes ma am.
Stein Anything further to add Miss Bronte.
Bronte I think he is kind of handsome Charlotte BronteStein Irrelevant Miss Bronte and to balance the scales I must say I find him to be a rather unattractive man Mr Hemingway Hemingway Do I get to send him back Stein Sigh yes Mr Hemingway please do so.
Hemingway walked across the room towards me Before I could even speculate about how he was going to send me back his fist imploded against my jaw As I slid to the floor I heard him say I got to send you back the same way you came Tinkerbell I woke on the floor of my library in a slurry of drool My head pounding, both sides of my jaw tender to the touch Note to self do not write a negative review of Hemingway From the way my stomach feels I d say the gin ate a hole through my insides and was still burrowing deeper I pull myself up to the computer The Lovely Jane AustenThe heroine of this novel, Miss Catherine Morland, was a reader of gothic literature I know it was Jane Austen s intention to poke fun at the craze of people reading this type of novel, but since I m a fan of the genre I actually enjoyed the frequent references to the author Ann Radcliffe and the other books that were being bought, enjoyed, and discussed in English drawing rooms of the time Miss Morland has hopes of finding herself enmeshed in a romance of gothic proportions When her parents consent to letting her visit friends and she meets new friends she knows she is on the verge of a grand adventure She meets the Tilney s, and in particular meets the man of our tale, Henry Tilney, who demonstrates early on that he had the makings of being the romantic hero of the new plot evolving in the mind of Miss Morland She is invited to visit the Tilney s at the family estate and the vision that Catherine composes in her mind about Northanger Abbey is doomed for disappointment To give one example where the Abbey failed to provide the proper gothic atmosphere The windows, to which she looked with peculiar dependence, from having heard the General talk of his preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were yet less what her fancy had portrayed To be sure, the pointed arch was preserved the form of them was Gothic they might be even casements but every pane was so large, so clear, so light To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone work, for painted glass, dirt and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing.
Catherine is mortified by her own ineptness with proper behavior She is manipulated by friends, but proves to be a quick learner and shows a steely spine standing up to their overbearing behavior towards her When she is cast out she proves her mettle once again finding her own way home with quiet determination despite her inexperience with the workings of the world Yes she is silly, and maybe because of her Gothic view of the world, I liked Catherinea lot I wish the plot of the novel would have allowedof Henry Tilney as he certainly seemed like a man, a reader of novels, who I would have enjoyed taking a long walk with to discuss literature, life, and all things nice There is subtle comedy throughout this short novel and even when our heroine is unhappy I didn t feel distressed, for how could the world deny Catherine her happy ending If you have struggled with other Austen novels I can assure you this is a breezy affair, not to say that it doesn t have literary merit, for it has, if nothing else, repaired my relationship with Miss Austen and I fully intend now to reread her other works and evaluate them through attitude adjusted eyes.
I have no idea how to rate this book, because there wasn t anything in particular that I disliked, but also nothing that I enjoyed I ve come to the conclusion that Austen just isn t for me, because I never find myself even remotely interested in what s going on, and I find her novels to be quite dull but that s just me.
I have nothing negative to say about Austen or her books, but unfortunately I don t find myself able to enjoy them.
c est la vie