Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thoughts: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen


"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." - Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)

When I first read Northanger Abbey a couple of years ago, I though it was dreadfully boring. As a self-professed Austenite, finding an Austen novel boring is unacceptable for me. So, I decided to give Northanger Abbey another try—this time with more knowledge about Gothic novels, The Mysteries of Udolpho in particular.

Catherine Morland is a seventeen-year-old girl who loves reading Gothic novels. When her rich acquaintances take her to Bath, a new world is opened up to her—a world where her imagination is allowed to flourish. She meets and attracts the attention of Henry Tilney. General Tilney, Henry’s father, invites her to visit them at Northanger Abbey, a place where Catherine’s Gothic fantasies might turn into reality.

On my second reread, I absolutely loved Northanger Abbey. This reread reminded why Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors—her acerbic wit, her drool-worthy heroes, and, basically, her sense of humor. There’s a part in the novel where Catherine, Henry, and Henry’s sister Eleanor are taking a walk in the woods. Henry’s dialogue is so sarcastic, so pitch-perfect, I couldn’t resist laughing out loud.

Despite being a parody of Gothic novels, Northanger Abbey was oddly realistic. You can really see how Henry and Catherine fell for each other. The funny thing is, Catherine fell for Henry first, which is a first, I think, in an Austen novel—the other exception might be Mansfield Park.

Overall, Northanger Abbey was a quick but awesome novel, one I won’t hesitate to reread when I have the time. Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite Austen, but Northanger Abbey certainly climbed up the list.

Rating: 4/5

The Dueling Authors: Austen vs. Dickens is hosted by The Classics Circuit here.

14 comments:

Laurie said...

This sounds quite different from the other Austen I've read (the big three), and you've convinced me to put it on my TBR list!
Question: Did Austen write short stories? If so, could you recommend one? (If she does/you can, just hop by WhatSheRead.blogspot.com to let me know your favorite, if it's not too much trouble!)
I've been enjoying your blog these months: Thank you so much for your presence here in the blogosphere!

Zibilee said...

I am actually worried about reading this one because I am so unfamiliar with gothics and I also have never even heard about The Mystery of Udolpho! I will be reading it in any case, but hopefully it will be after I have brushed up on some of the necessary background information so that I can properly enjoy it. I am glad to hear that it climbed up from the abyss for you, and think you wrote a wonderful review!

Audra said...

I love Gothics so this one always caught my fancy -- it might be my second favorite Austen novel. So glad you enjoyed it upon reread!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I read this years ago and wasn't a huge fan. I love all of Austen's work though and I think that this one definitely deserves a re-read. I think there were tongue-in-cheek jokes about gothic mysteries that I didn't catch first time around.

Tiny Library said...

This is the Austen I really want to read as I've read a lot of gothic novels and know that her satire is supposed to be spot on. Glad you enjoyed it more the second time around!

Trisha said...

Don't you love how mood and age and so many other factors can affect your enjoyment of a book? Some find this frustrating; I like it because it means an infinite number of experiences with a book. :)

Rebecca Reid said...

I really need to read this again. I read it as a teenager and found it boring too! But now I've read most of Austen and wonder what I"ll think. I love the idea of a heroine who loves literature...a little too much!

Jillian said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I'm very curious!! Funny how Austen becomes AMAZING on second read. :-)

Alice said...

Northanger Abbey is fricking hilarious and I want to marry Henry Tilney. What's your favorite Austen?

Andi said...

Good to know that it took a little additional knowledge to get into this one. I've had it on my stacks for years, and I'll probably dive into it next. Great review!

simplerpastimes said...

I really need to reread this! I wouldn't say it was one of my favorites when I first read it, but the recent TV adaptation is one of my favorite Austen movies. It's really time for some of Austen's trademark wit...

Anastasia @ Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog said...

Yay! I'm glad you liked NA better after a second read. That's happened to me a couple of times with other books-- I always feel really accomplished afterwards, like I climbed up a huge mountain or something. :D

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I need to reread this, because I love Austen, but I ad a similar reaction to this on the first read.

rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

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