Book Reviews

Read-A-Thon Book #2: Northanger Abbey

“…every bend in the road was expected with solemn awe to afford a glimpse of its massy walls of grey stone, rising amidst a grove of ancient oaks, with the last beams of the sun playing in beautiful splendour on its high Gothic windows…” (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)

I just finished reading Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey and I have to say- I really enjoyed it. Jane Austen’s writing is simple yet beautiful, touching and humorous, and romantic and inspiring.

A great deal of the situations, characters and settings seemed very real to me, pulling me further into the story. For example, one of the main settings in the story takes place in Bath, England. I could easily see this historic setting as the perfect backdrop for balls, theatres and long, scenic walks. I appreciated this sense of realism she created in Northanger Abbey because it made me more invested in the story- it felt real.

I also loved how Jane Austen “broke the fourth wall”. “Breaking the fourth wall” is a term often used in theatre, film and television when a character acknowledges the audience. This can be applied to novels as well. As the narrator she would add in a line or two, directed at the reader, about how she is supposed to follow literary conventions or about the situation of her characters.

And of course I adored the story and its characters. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland leads an ordinary life in Fullerton, until her neighbours Mr. Allen and Mrs. Allen invite her on a trip to Bath.

In Bath, Catherine enjoys balls, theatre shows and other social outings. She meets many interesting people like the charming and clever Henry Tilney, Mrs. Allen’s childhood friend, Mrs. Thorpe, and her children, Isabella and John. She even runs into her older brother, James Morland, who is friends with John at Oxford.

Naturally, Catherine becomes friends with Isabella and John. However, Catherine also wants to spend time with Henry Tilney and his kind sister, Eleanor Tilney, who are also her friends. Both Isabella and John use their subtle yet cunning powers of persuasion to prevent Catherine from spending time with the Tilneys (the sly and vain John is competing with Henry for Catherine’s affections), but Catherine eventually stands her ground and gets an opportunity to spend time with them as well.

To her disappointment, Henry and Eleanor are about to leave Bath on their father, General Tilney’s order. Unexpectedly, she is offered an invitation from Henry and Eleanor’s father, General Tilney to stay with them for a few weeks at their home, called Northanger Abbey. She then makes the trip away from Bath to the seemingly mysterious Northanger Abbey…

I loved Northanger Abbey and found myself itching to find out what happened next. Even more, I loved Henry’s charm, wit and sense of humour, Eleanor’s sincerity and kindness, and Catherine’s naivety, innocence and wild imagination. She reminded me of myself when I was seventeen. I found myself smiling at the dramatic inner thoughts of Catherine as she over-analyzed every social situation and explored the mysterious Northanger Abbey.

I had wished for a little more romance between Henry and Catherine (the 2007 movie set my standards pretty high). Nonetheless, I would recommend this book for anyone who’s looking for a light-hearted and humourous Jane Austen read. I think this one might be on my favourites list!

What has your experience been like reading Jane Austen’s work?

4 thoughts on “Read-A-Thon Book #2: Northanger Abbey”

  1. Northanger Abbey is on my favorite list for sure! It’s one of my favorite Austen books. I love how light and fun it is, while also telling a lovely story. And Catherine is innocent and gullible but also so endearing.

    1. Hi, Raised A Reader! It really is light and fun, isn’t it? I found it so different from her other work like Sense and Sensibility, which seemed so intense and heavy at some points (but was also a lovely story). What other Jane Austen books have you read or would you recommend? 🙂

      1. Yes, definitely different from Sense and Sensibility. I love how she writes all kinds of different books and moods. My two favorites are Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice. I’ve also read Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion, which were both good, as well. I’m going to try and read Emma soon, which I heard many people say is their all time favorite, though! What about you?

  2. I agree! She was a very versatile writer and an interesting woman too. I’ve only read Northanger Abbey, and Sense and Sensibility sadly. I need to expose myself to more Jane Austen. I was thinking about Emma too- I think it sounds light-hearted and fun like Northanger. But I know I should read the all-time classic Pride and Prejudice too. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.