Book reviews

Northanger Abbey book review

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Northanger Abbey

Author: Jane Austen

Published: 1817

Time period: late 1700s, early 1800s

Setting: Bath, England

Rate: 5/5 stars!

          Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. She wrote novels about romance and society in the late 1700s and early 1800s, which was also the time period she lived in. Her stories focused on girls her age who went through life experiencing things similar to what Jane experienced in her own life. The thoughts and feelings of her characters reflected the way Jane herself dealt with her situations.

            All of Jane Austen’s novels are very unique, and Northanger Abbey is no exception. Because it is written in the old English language, is not an easy, quick read. It takes time and sometimes a thesaurus to decipher all the words, but in the end, the story is totally worth it!

            It really didn’t take me very long at all to read this book, because this Jane’s shortest novel. If you are looking to start reading some of her books, this is the perfect one to start with! It is entertaining the entire time, the protagonist is very young (17 I think), and it is short enough so that you will not get bored towards the end.

            Have you ever read any Gothic-style novels? Gothic fiction combines fiction, horror, death, and sometimes romance. Some classics in this category would include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

            Jane Austen has never written any true Gothic fiction, but Northanger Abbey comes pretty close, and some people do classify it as a Gothic novel. While it doesn’t have any gruesome deaths, there are times of suspense and mystery that will keep you guessing at the antagonist’s real character. Northanger Abbey, where the main character goes to stay with her friends, contains dark, forbidden corridors and secrets that the main character is scared to unveil.

            You thought this was just a classic romance novel, huh? Think again!

            Now onto the book.

             Northanger Abbey centers around a girl named Catherine Morland. She was born to a large, poor family, who lived in a small town called Fullerton where her father was the pastor of a church. Catherine was a young, naïve girl who was a little bit sheltered by her parents. But she loved to read, especially mystery stories and Gothic fiction novels that she thought very thrilling and exciting compared to her own life.

           Now, the Morlands had some neighbors who traveled to Bath, a big city in England where all the wealthy people would travel to and have parties and such. When Catherine was seventeen, these neighbors, the Allens, invited her to accompany them to their yearly trip to Bath.

            This was an amazing chance for Catherine to see more of the world than her little town, so she went with the Allens to Bath. And let me tell you – she had the time of her life.

            Of course, there were some complications. The Allens made some friends, the Thorpes. And while Isabella Thorpe was a good friend to Catherine at first, this friendship came with some complications. Wherever Isabella was, her brother, John, was also. John Thorpe was an arrogant, conceited man who claimed to love Catherine and really got in the way of her enjoying Bath.

            After the Thorpes, we have the Tilneys! Eleanor Tilney and her brother, Henry Tilney, became great friends with Catherine while in Bath. Eleanor was the girlfriend Catherine had always needed, and Henry was the man she greatly admired and who treated her like an equal individual. I love the Tilney siblings so much – they are some of my favorite characters!

            It was the Tilneys who lived in the mysterious Northanger Abbey. They invited Catherine to come and stay with them for a while before the left Bath. So, Catherine found herself standing in the dark, foreboding abbey that would be her home for the next few weeks.

            Catherine had several adventures in the abbey that kept me intrigued the entire time. She discovered that Eleanor and Henry’s father, General Tilney, may not be who he seemed. The abbey was full of secrets that Catherine wished to unfold but also wished to keep hidden.

            One of the things that I LOVE about Jane Austen’s novels is that there are always times where Jane seems to be making fun of her society, while trying to teach a lesson. In Northanger Abbey, Jane sort of made fun of the stereotype that society had towards girls and women.

            Back in the time where women were not supposed to be at all intellectual or be well read, Jane wrote about a character who was totally opposite. Just like Jane Austen herself, Catherine enjoyed reading books, especially thrillers. When one of Catherine’s love interests early on in the book mentioned how much he despised a girl who reads, she immediately knew he wasn’t for her. And that was the normal role of girls. To buy clothes, do their makeup and hair, and talk about handsome men. Except for Catherine. And that’s one of the main reasons why I love her as a character!

            “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” – Henry Tilney. Northanger Abbey.

            I loved this novel, and it is now one of my favorite classic novels and probably my second favorite novel by Jane Austen. As I mentioned before, Northanger Abbey is Jane’s shortest and most entertaining/fast-paced novel, so I recommend this one as the first Jane Austen you read! Of course, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so if you want to know what happens to Catherine in the mysterious abbey, I would highly suggest you read this book!

I hope you enjoyed my bookish babblings!

-Rebekah

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