I decided to reread all Jane Austen novels. This time I’ll read them in the order she wrote them. This means I have to start with Northanger Abbey; even though it was published posthumously.
I own Austen’s novels in the very, very beautiful Penguin English Library editions. My copy of Northanger Abbey has 236 pages plus a 10-page article by Susannah Carson.
“The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.”
I’m quite surprised to say so, but this novel is a true parody of Gothic Fiction. Which is probably why it is so different from her other works. Austen sounds much younger in this novel; she’s trying to find herself.
Northanger Abbey is a lighthearted, young and simple novel with a humble, charming, pure and genuine protagonist. Catherine is so much fun; she’s so innocent and naïve, she’s a bit crazy and I loved her.
John and Isabella are really, really irritating but it brought out the best in Catherine (and mrs Allan).
Reading this novel was pure joy; the kind that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside.
Finishing this one tonight!