Sometimes I think about the fact that by my age Jane Austen had already written Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I normally then have a bit of a crisis as to what am I doing with my life. Anyway, as previously established on Bernie and Books, I love Jane Austen and I have kind of started a new little challenge for myself to read all her published works. Next on the Jane Austen list and what with needing a bit of a break from the top 100 after On the Road, I started on Northanger Abbey.
Whereas with every previous Austen I had read, I had never seen an adaptation of Northanger Abbey and it was a refreshing experience to go into the novel blind. Catherine Morland is one of 10 children of a clergyman. Her life is no where near as exciting as the heroines in her favourite Gothic Novels. When family friends invite Catherine to Bath the usual Jane Austen romantic conflict happens. The best bit is when Catherine’s friends from Bath invite her to stay at their home Northanger Abbey and its Gothic nature fires Catherine’s imagination resulting in ‘misunderstandings of the heart’.
One of my favourite things about Austen’s writing is the satire and let me tell you she is on point with Northanger Abbey. I think to understand a lot of it you have to be familiar with the conventions of Gothic Literature so perhaps read some of Catherine Morland’s favourite books before you start it. If you can’t be bothered with that, this book offers just as much enjoyment from the misunderstandings, romantic conflicts and comic characters as Emma, S&s or P&P.
I really enjoyed the setting of Bath as it made a change from the grand country houses we normally see in Austen’s work. Admittedly the last portion of the book takes place in a grand country house but it was really interesting to see a different aspect of Austen’s world. I must admit I was bit confused when I started reading it because, as with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin I felt a bit like “this book needed a different title”.
I love the ending of this book so much. Normally with Austen there is a happily ever after so I don’t think I am giving too much away if I say that this book is very similar although not the same. Right at the end when you least expected I was completely in shock and then wetting myself laughing. There is the biggest curve ball and it works perfectly. Perhaps this book should have been called Incorrect Assumptions or something like that because that really is the predominant theme.
In terms of where it sits with the other Jane Austen I have read I would say I like it a lot more than Emma, a bit more than Pride and Prejudice but it sits in a comfortable second after Sense and Sensibility.
Would recommend to: give it a go if you’re new to Jane Austen.