Today I have a review for one of the last Jane Austen books on my list to read; Northanger Abbey.
I previously enjoyed reading the majority of Jane Austen’s works in August (for Austen August!) however, I ran short of time to read Northanger Abbey as well as Love and Friendship and Lady Susan (these are still definitely on my TBR list!)
I gave Northanger Abbey 5 stars. I really, really enjoyed it to the point that it only took me 2 days to read. I could hardly put it down.
Northanger Abbey was the first novel of Jane Austen’s, however it was published posthumously in 1817. It tells the story of Catherine Morland, a young girl who leaves her sheltered, rural home to enter the busy, sophisticated world of Bath.
Northanger Abbey is a gothic parody, written at a time when the genre of gothic literature was gaining massively in popularity. Throughout the story, references are made to several different gothic novels of the time. Catherine Morland is very well-read, but only in terms of gothic novels. Her life in Northanger Abbey (in the second-half of the novel) begins to emulate this whilst her vision becomes clouded by all she has read. One particular moment that really stood out to me was the suspenseful sequence that Jane Austen created while Catherine Morland decides whether or not to open the old and mysterious cabinet in her room. We, the audience, expect there to be something terrible inside but what is inside ends up being harmless and amusing (I won’t spoil it here! You have to read it!).
The majority of Jane Austen’s novels feature heroines a little bit older than Catherine Morland is. I really enjoyed going on a journey with Catherine in Northanger Abbey; from naive and foolish to mature and sophisticated. I think the character progression in Northanger Abbey is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable in all of Austen’s novels (despite the book being one of the shortest!) I appreciated that Jane Austen had to make Catherine Morland naive and foolish in the beginning in order to show how absurd and crazy societal expectations were at the time and in order to write such a high-quality satirical novel as Northanger Abbey.
Regarding Catherine, I really loved her as a heroine. I found her funny and likeable. I liked that the whole story didn’t revolve around a basic and boring romance between the main characters (i.e. man and woman see each other, they fall in love, they marry). Northanger Abbey took me on a few twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting in terms of the romantic storylines. Again, I don’t want to spoil these for you! Other characters in the novel are just perfect at emulating what society was like; there are characters like the Thorpes who are vain, greedy and shallow (as a lot of people in a high-society Bath would have been…). The satirical view of society is very tongue-in-cheek and told through the medium of character’s and their development. As always, Jane Austen is an absolute genius at this ❤
Just as Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey struggles to see the divide between fiction and reality, so too has Jane Austen’s writing had the same effect on me. I was transported to the high-society of well-to-do Bath, then straight on to the wild and mysterious landscape of Northanger Abbey and then on to the quiet and unassuming rural hometown of Catherine’s.
By reading more and more of Austen’s works, I have come to the conclsuion that Jane Austen really was one of the greatest novelists in the world (I dare you to disagree haha).
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid”