Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland is one of ten children of a country clergyman. Although a tomboy in her childhood, by the age of 17 she is "in training for a heroine" and is excessively fond of reading Gothic novels, among which Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho is a favourite.
Catherine is invited by the Allens, her wealthier neighbours in Fullerton, to accompany them to visit the town of Bath and partake in the winter season of balls, theatre and other social delights. Although initially the excitement of Bath is dampened by her lack of acquaintances, she is soon introduced to a clever young gentleman,
Henry Tilney, with whom she dances and converses. Much to Catherine's disappointment, Henry does not reappear in the subsequent week and, not knowing whether or not he has left Bath for good, she wonders if she will ever see him again. Through Mrs Allen's old school-friend Mrs Thorpe, she meets her daughter Isabella, a vivacious and flirtatious young woman, and the two quickly become friends. Mrs Thorpe's son John is also a friend of Catherine's older brother, James, at Oxford where they are both students.
It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. In the spring of 1816, the bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist's brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum-£10-that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels.
The novel was further revised by Austen in 1816/17, with the intention of having it published. Among other changes, the lead character's name was changed from Susan to Catherine, and Austen retitled the book Catherine as a result.
Austen died in July 1817. Northanger Abbey (as the novel was now called) was brought out posthumously in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set that also featured another previously unpublished Austen novel, Persuasion. Neither novel was published under the title Jane Austen had given it; the title Northanger Abbey is presumed to have been the invention of Henry Austen, who had arranged for the book's publication.
About the Author
Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist known for her fiction set among England’s landed gentry. She was the seventh of eight children and was educated mostly at home in Hampshire. Her best-known works include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Although her novels, all of which were published anonymously, did not bring her fame during her lifetime, she is now one of the most widely read writers in the English language.
Date of Birth:December 16, 1775
Date of Death:July 18, 1817
Place of Birth:Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
Place of Death:Winchester, Hampshire, England
Education:Taught at home by her father
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By Jane Austen
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No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard—and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable independence besides two good livings—and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on—lived to have six children more—to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features—so much for her person; and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond of all boy's plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief—at least so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take. Such were her propensities—her abilities were quite as extraordinary. She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the "Beggar's Petition"; and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine was always stupid—by no means; she learnt the fable of "The Hare and Many Friends" as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother wished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it; and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine's life. Her taste for drawing was not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside of a letter from her mother or seize upon any other odd piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees, hens and chickens, all very much like one another. Writing and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable character!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.
Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances were mending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexion improved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, her eyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Her love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grew clean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimes hearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement. "Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl—she is almost pretty today," were words which caught her ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.
Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—or at least books of information—for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.
From Pope, she learnt to censure those who
"bear about the mockery of woe."
From Gray, that
"Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
"And waste its fragrance on the desert air."
From Thompson, that—
"It is a delightful task
"To teach the young idea how to shoot."
And from Shakespeare she gained a great store of information—amongst the rest, that—
"Trifles light as air,
"Are, to the jealous, confirmation strong,
"As proofs of Holy Writ."
"The poor beetle, which we tread upon,
"In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great
"As when a giant dies."
And that a young woman in love always looks—
"like Patience on a monument
"Smiling at Grief."
So far her improvement was sufficient—and in many other points she came on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude on the pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to other people's performance with very little fatigue. Her greatest deficiency was in the pencil—she had no notion of drawing—not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover's profile, that she might be detected in the design. There she fell miserably short of the true heroic height. At present she did not know her own poverty, for she had no lover to portray. She had reached the age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no—not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintance who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door—not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had no ward, and the squire of the parish no children.
But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.
Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fullerton, the village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered to Bath for the benefit of a gouty constitution—and his lady, a good-humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.CHAPTER 2
In addition to what has been already said of Catherine Morland's personal and mental endowments, when about to be launched into all the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks' residence in Bath, it may be stated, for the reader's more certain information, lest the following pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of what her character is meant to be, that her heart was affectionate; her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind—her manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty—and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is.
When the hour of departure drew near, the maternal anxiety of Mrs. Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. A thousand alarming presentiments of evil to her beloved Catherine from this terrific separation must oppress her heart with sadness, and drown her in tears for the last day or two of their being together; and advice of the most important and applicable nature must of course flow from her wise lips in their parting conference in her closet. Cautions against the violence of such noblemen and baronets as delight in forcing young ladies away to some remote farm-house, must, at such a moment, relieve the fulness of her heart. Who would not think so? But Mrs. Morland knew so little of lords and baronets, that she entertained no notion of their general mischievousness, and was wholly unsuspicious of danger to her daughter from their machinations. Her cautions were confined to the following points. "I beg, Catherine, you will always wrap yourself up very warm about the throat, when you come from the rooms at night; and I wish you would try to keep some account of the money you spend; I will give you this little book on purpose."
Sally, or rather Sarah (for what young lady of common gentility will reach the age of sixteen without altering her name as far as she can?), must from situation be at this time the intimate friend and confidante of her sister. It is remarkable, however, that she neither insisted on Catherine's writing by every post, nor exacted her promise of transmitting the character of every new acquaintance, nor a detail of every interesting conversation that Bath might produce. Everything indeed relative to this important journey was done, on the part of the Morlands, with a degree of moderation and composure, which seemed rather consistent with the common feelings of common life, than with the refined susceptibilities, the tender emotions which the first separation of a heroine from her family ought always to excite. Her father, instead of giving her an unlimited order on his banker, or even putting an hundred pounds bank-bill into her hands, gave her only ten guineas, and promised her more when she wanted it.
Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and the journey began. It was performed with suitable quietness and uneventful safety. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky overturn to introduce them to the hero. Nothing more alarming occurred than a fear, on Mrs. Allen's side, of having once left her clogs behind her at an inn, and that fortunately proved to be groundless.
They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight—her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.
They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street.
It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Allen, that the reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will hereafter tend to promote the general distress of the work, and how she will, probably, contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all the desperate wretchedness of which a last volume is capable—whether by her imprudence, vulgarity, or jealousy—whether by intercepting her letters, ruining her character, or turning her out of doors.
Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. She had neither beauty, genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible, intelligent man like Mr. Allen. In one respect she was admirably fitted to introduce a young lady into public, being as fond of going everywhere and seeing everything herself as any young lady could be. Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine's entrée into life could not take place till after three or four days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was provided with a dress of the newest fashion. Catherine too made some purchases herself, and when all these matters were arranged, the important evening came which was to usher her into the Upper Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes put on with care, and both Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she looked quite as she should do. With such encouragement, Catherine hoped at least to pass uncensured through the crowd. As for admiration, it was always very welcome when it came, but she did not depend on it.
Mrs. Allen was so long in dressing that they did not enter the ballroom till late. The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could. As for Mr. Allen, he repaired directly to the card-room, and left them to enjoy a mob by themselves. With more care for the safety of her new gown than for the comfort of her protégée, Mrs. Allen made her way through the throng of men by the door, as swiftly as the necessary caution would allow; Catherine, however, kept close at her side, and linked her arm too firmly within her friend's to be torn asunder by any common effort of a struggling assembly. But to her utter amazement she found that to proceed along the room was by no means the way to disengage themselves from the crowd; it seemed rather to increase as they went on, whereas she had imagined that when once fairly within the door, they should easily find seats and be able to watch the dances with perfect convenience. But this was far from being the case, and though by unwearied diligence they gained even the top of the room, their situation was just the same; they saw nothing of the dancers but the high feathers of some of the ladies. Still they moved on—something better was yet in view; and by a continued exertion of strength and ingenuity they found themselves at last in the passage behind the highest bench. Here there was something less of crowd than below; and hence Miss Morland had a comprehensive view of all the company beneath her, and of all the dangers of her late passage through them. It was a splendid sight, and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel herself at a ball: she longed to dance, but she had not an acquaintance in the room. Mrs. Allen did all that she could do in such a case by saying very placidly, every now and then, "I wish you could dance, my dear—I wish you could get a partner." For some time her young friend felt obliged to her for these wishes; but they were repeated so often, and proved so totally ineffectual, that Catherine grew tired at last, and would thank her no more.
They were not long able, however, to enjoy the repose of the eminence they had so laboriously gained. Everybody was shortly in motion for tea, and they must squeeze out like the rest. Catherine began to feel something of disappointment—she was tired of being continually pressed against by people, the generality of whose faces possessed nothing to interest, and with all of whom she was so wholly unacquainted that she could not relieve the irksomeness of imprisonment by the exchange of a syllable with any of her fellow captives; and when at last arrived in the tea-room, she felt yet more the awkwardness of having no party to join, no acquaintance to claim, no gentleman to assist them. They saw nothing of Mr. Allen; and after looking about them in vain for a more eligible situation, were obliged to sit down at the end of a table, at which a large party were already placed, without having anything to do there, or anybody to speak to, except each other.
Excerpted from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Copyright © 2015 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Table of ContentsContents
CHAPTER 1 3
CHAPTER 2 5
CHAPTER 3 8
CHAPTER 4 10
CHAPTER 5 12
CHAPTER 6 13
CHAPTER 7 16
CHAPTER 8 20
CHAPTER 9 23
CHAPTER 10 27
CHAPTER 11 33
CHAPTER 12 37
CHAPTER 13 39
CHAPTER 14 43
CHAPTER 15 48
CHAPTER 16 52
CHAPTER 17 56
CHAPTER 18 57
CHAPTER 19 60
CHAPTER 20 62
CHAPTER 21 66
CHAPTER 22 70
CHAPTER 23 74
CHAPTER 24 77
CHAPTER 25 81
CHAPTER 26 85
CHAPTER 27 88
CHAPTER 28 90
CHAPTER 29 94
CHAPTER 30 98
CHAPTER 31 102
What People are Saying About This
“Jane Austen is the Rosetta stone of literature.” —Anna Quindlen
"She is a prose Shakesphere."
Reading Group Guide
1. Robert Kilely, in his Introduction, says that although Northanger Abbey satirizes gothic novels, what's more significant about it is the manner in which Jane Austen bases her narrative on conversation. How is conversation used in the novel as a narrative device? How does conversation both aid and hinder the characters?
2. Jane Austen deftly shifts voices so as to allow us to see the world through Catherine's eyes and her own eyes (often through Henry Tilney). What effects does this have on the reader?
3. What gothic elements are incorporated into the novel? What are the anti-gothic elements and figures of the novel? How does Austen juxtapose Bath and the Abbey?
4. It can be argued that Henry Tilney is a foil to John Thorpe. What other characters serve as foils to each other? Does Catherine have a foil?
5. Consider the use of sarcasm in the novel. How does Henry Tilney's sarcasm force Catherine to think things through more thoroughly and expand her values and notions?
6. The novel depicts a disparity of class and wealth, most notably between the Thorpes and the Tilneys. What importance does social convention hold? Is there a certain relevance between class and behavior appertaining to the Thorpes and Tilneys? Is it ever justifiable to break with social convention and propriety?
7. One of the major elements in Northanger Abbey is reading, particularly reading novels. What are some of the differences between novels and reality that Austen is discerning? Is she convinced that novels are worthless? What is surprising about the way novels were perceived in the early nineteenth century?
8. "No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her to be a heroine," Jane Austen writes in her opening paragraph. Do you agree that Catherine is a heroine? How does she develop through the novel and what does she learn about her self and the world around her?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have been a big Jane Austen fan since I first read Pride and Prejudice as a ten year old. Since then, my love has only grown. I thought that nothing could top Pride and Prejudice, then I read Northanger Abbey. I love this book! It is funny, sweet, has good morals, endearing characters, and everything else that a good novel needs. I would recommend this to anyone who loved Pride and Prejudice or wished that Persuasion had a bit more spice. It is perfectly lovely, and a piece of work worthy of recognition. Put this in your personal library and read it again and again!
What seasoned Austen readers know is that Northanger Abbey is written almost entirely in a satirical vein. It is one of Jane Austen's finest displays of wit throughout her writing, poking fun at gothic novels and embellishing with zest. Readers who are only familiar with a few of Austen's works, like the more mainstream Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, may thus be confused by difference in tone of Austen's first novel. It is a splendid way to familiarize oneself with all of Austen's work. Five stars.
Very hard to read. Lots of extra, odd letters and punctuation thrown in. I can't figure out how they got it so wrong. I finally gave up on reading it.
This book, as even Austen herself would surely admit, does not particularly align with her other novels. It certailny resembles them in regards to the general plot (of woman meets man, something/someone comes between woman and man, eventually woman and man are together) but, as is also the custom with all of Austen's works, bears striking distinction. Northanger Abbey is a book about books, or more specifically the Gothic novels or other fantastic fiction. Perhaps to certain eyes characters in it may seem flat and consequently unappealing. But it is only because Austen had written this as a parody of sorts, making the novel seem as though written for those accustomed to reading Gothic novels themselves, though really for people who expect OTHERS would take everything in the book seriously. She wants her readers to share her own humors with her, and even points out her intentions by reminding her readers: that THESE chracters are characters, and only that. Personally, I should recommend it to any appreciative of both Gothic novels themselves and Austen's playful approach to dealing with people who think every time a candle goes out in the night, a knife follows with it.
There is a problem, and I hope B&N fixes it soon. The nookbook download is not of Northanger Abbey but of Penguin's edition of Cicero's Selected Writings...
It was not converted well. Lots of symbols and misspelled words. Pretty useless for reading.
Northanger Abbey is a fun book to read. It has very colorful characters and when reading it i could see them come to life in my head. Catherine Morland is an interesting and humorous character. She has an imagination that makes for great reading. I recommend this book to anyone who wants an entertaining read
I love this novel because jane austen wrote it and also because it makes fun of the gothic books that were written during that time period. Catherine started out very ditzy and childish, but by the end she had pretty much grown up. I loved warching her character develop, plus Mr. Tilney is one of my favorite heroes!
One of Jane Austen's lesser known novels; but still a very good read. The heroine is a bit more fanciful than other Austen characters; but it's interesting to see her discuss/read novels that were popular during that time. Also, the hero doesn't really resist falling in love with her. In fact, the fact that she admits that she favors him makes him like her all the more. This combined with family intrigues, the adventure of discovering a new place (Bath), and Catherine's imagination running away from her at times makes for a fun, slighty mysterious read. Enjoy!
This is not Austen`s best novel, but it is sweet and delightful, and witty as ever. It is not my favourite book by Austen, and I suppose I might have enjoyed it more, had I read it when I was younger. The story is about a young and rather immature girl, who reads too many romantic and ghost stories. On a visit to Bath, she befriends the Tilneys. Father Tilney is very overbearing and strict, his oldest son is a scoundrel, but his two other kids, the charming, funny and intelligent Henry and his lovely sister make up for the other two. Catherine, our young heroine receives an invitation to the Tilney house, hich is rather ancient. She suspects that there are dark secrets lurking behind the family facade ...but are there really or is it simply her imagination? You have to read it to find out. It is actually a very funny story. You don`t feel the same love and understanding for the heroine, as you do for Liz Bennett, but Austen intended it that way. Like all her novels, it is a coming of age story, where the main character learns more about herself than she ever expected. Recommended.
This is actually one of Austen's first works, she kept it for fifteen years, polishing it. It is her lightest work but it is still very good. Our heroine is Catherine, she is a rather silly young girl who has read too many gothic romances. "The Mysteries of Udolpho" in particular has turned her silly head. She seems to see a gothic mystery everywhere she looks. Catherine soon learns that the world is not all melodrama and eventually matures and marries a very sensible man. What keeps Catherine likable is her capacity to learn from her mistakes. She is certainly the least mature of Austen's heroines but she is never boring. This is a marvelous book to start with if you want to get into Jane Austen, it does not have as many characters or subplots as her other works and it is very breezy.
Who knew a vacation trip could turn into such an important event for one girl's life. From the moment the heroine is introduced, up to the very end she is delightful, naïve and fun. The men who come in and out of the tale are a little shady, self centered and of course cause more harm to the poor girl than good in some cases. A delightful visit into another Jane Austen book. I love the interactions between all of the characters, large and small they each bring light, laughter and fun to the tale. The settings shifting through out the book are detailed, fitting and absolutely fabulous. I really want to visit a real abbey some day just to see.it is also thrilling to have a heroine who is balanced between to smart for her own good, and so dumb every step is an accident. The personalities of the other girls in the book bring out the unique qualities of the heroine and show case her in a brilliant light. A very good short read.
I loved Catherine and her obsession with gothic novels. I love gothics, too, and it seemed like this was Austen's way of taking a dig at the pulp reading that was so popular in her day. Despite that, I still enjoyed this immensely.
This is my favorite Jane Austen book. Not certain why, I just love to read this book. I love a nice rainy day, a quiet house and a cup of tea. I sit and read this book all afternoon.
You know what's funny? How Austen manages to parody one style of book, while managing to write her book in another typical style that seems equally deserving of parody due to the overreactions it can create in readers' heads. I expected so much more from this book, thinking it a parody of "gothic fiction" kind of similar to what Lewis' "The Monk" was--I mainly expected it to still retain a plot semi-similar to popular works of the genre, with added sarcastic remarks and subtle jabs against the style itself, while--owing to who the author is--I expected it to have a "good" outcome as usual. While it does have the remarks and jabs, it is essentially a love story, no "gothic" elements at all except what is clearly in the main character's own head--thoughts which no one today would seriously entertain for long, and it's not even that comical to see the "heroine" of the story believing it. I think I'd get more from this book if I thought more about the "era" it was written in, when women really were more openly seen as inferior to men; when a thoughtless and carefree upbringing like Catherine's might have been more easily believed; and maybe when some foolish people did perhaps entertain ideas of "gothic fiction" being fully real and plausible. But I read it essentially for pleasure, and Catherine's ignorance annoyed me. Austen's sarcasm about how a female should act was sometimes too in-your-face and other times rather subtle, leading me to wonder if every point was meant to be funny, or if some points were meant in truth. The comical hints at some type of typical abduction, shady character, or what-have-you, lead me to expect one thing, and continually turn pages only to find another. In the end I just thought.... "oh, it's a romance?"
Surprisingly funny for Austen! I first read this one for a Gothic Novels class - fantastic class by the way - and really liked it. It's not my favorite of hers, but definitely worth reading. I enjoyed the way she defended her craft against critics of the novel genre.
This book is a quick read that is quite enjoyable. If you loved "Pride and Prejudice", you'll find Northanger Abbey to be in the same mold. Jane Austen brings the characters alive in this short novel.
Not my favorite Austen novel. The first half of the book is rather slow, a bit dry. Luckily for the reader, the second half picks up and moves along nicely. Catherine, the MC, is a silly girl - a bit of a drama queen with a tendency to let her imagination run wild. Austen pokes fun at the novel in this story, and there are moments of humor that gave me a chuckle. Rated 3.5/5.
Catherine Morland, seventeen and naive, travels to Bath as a companion to neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. There she meets new friends and travels with one family, the Tilneys, to their home, Northanger Abbey. While there, Catherine lets her imagination run wild. She eventually learns the truth and finds love. I love Jane Austen.
Though published posthumously, Northanger Abbey is the earliest of Austen's six major novels to be composed and an excellent and accessible introduction to her work. The remarkably funny opening sentence -- no one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine -- sets the stage for what is both a parody and an homage to the gothic novel. Morland is no beautiful heroine and she encounters no murderous villains or supernatural mysteries. Yet her marriage to Henry Tilney is barely less fanciful. Ordinary life is revealed to be adventure enough without the need for fantastic elements to spice them. Morland is contrasted with the ultimately deceitful Isabella Thorpe. Yet the novel is somewhat ambigous as to whether this is because of the superiority of her character or chance. Thorpe professes her love for James Morland but betrays him when she learns she will have to wait two years and that their income will be modest. This disappointment coupled with her fanciful delusions, fostered by her reading habits, make it impossible for Isabella to resist the temptations of the dashing Frederick. But Morland --- who shares the love of the same books as Isabella -- is betrothed only after seeing Tilney's parsonage and knowing she will be secure. And the obnoxious John Thorpe offers little temptation. Would Morland have fared better if she had been in Thorpe's place. Morland fate is happy and her choices sound, it seems, because she is the heroine and must be favored by fortune. A sobering thought from a sober novel.
I believe this is the only Jane Austen book that I had not read, and read repeatedly. I'm not sure how I overlooked it. It has much in common with her other books: a deserving young woman and her exploits in society who eventually gets the honorable man whom she loves. We hear much more of the narrator's voice in this book than any of the others. Austen's sarcasm and wit are rather delicious. I also enjoyed Catherine's development from a complete innocent, easily led by those with more worldly experience and selfish designs, to a somewhat more discerning person occasionally capable of forming her own opinions. The happy ending was satisfying.
This is abook about a woman. She is Catherine. She came to Bath with Mr and Mrs Allen. When she went to balls, she met a girl. She is Isabella. She became her friend. And there She met a man. He is Henry who is destined to marry her. This book is easy to read. So everyone can read easy.
At seventeen, Catherine Morland reads books. She especially enjoys gothic novels like Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho which contain castles with secret passages, mysterious rooms and evil inhabitants. Miss Morland takes these romantic thoughts with her to Bath where she spends several weeks with her neighbors, the Allens. It is there that she meets Isabella and the braggart, foul mouthed, deceptive John Thorpe and both love Catherine immensely, or do they really? Catherine also befriends Henry and his sister Eleanor Tilney. Catherine loves Henry from the first sight of him. She is ecstatic to be invited to their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry fuels her romantic thoughts on the trip to the Abbey in what seems like a mockery of her love of novels. I so looked forward to reading my beautiful edition of Northanger Abbey but I was just as let down by the Abbey as Catherine. We both expected something that never transpired. There was little romance and hardly any cat and mouse games which I have become accustomed to in an Austen novel. As usual, her trademark injustices of class distinctions are present . The exception to any romantic liaison is John Thorpe who simply loves John Thorpe. I have never met a character which I detest more than this man. His gaul and audacity make me cringe.I never knew for certain Henry's feelings for Catherine as I found the story to lack passion and intensity with a conclusion that is hurried and is simply a review of events by the narrator. A tidy way to wrap things up. It is as if Austen was ready to finish this story and move on to the next. Disappointed that the object of the title did not present itself until Chapter 20! With all do respect, this novel was Austen's first but published post-humously by her brother.I recommend it to lovers of Austen though not enthusiastically.
Definitely no Pride & Prejudice! too pompous and dragged.
Please don't be angry Austen fans but I'm afraid I will never be able to join your ranks. I liked Pride & Prejudice but I couldn't even finish Persuasion. I can see why fans like Northanger Abbey. Austen got in some pretty cutting comments on social mores and gothic literature. Unfortunately, the humor was not enough to draw me into the story.