A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen's "Gothic parody." Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.
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.
Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is a lighthearted, yet unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it. Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
Secretly, I much prefer "Northanger Abbey" and "Mansfield Park" to anything else written by Jane Austen, even "Pride and Prejudice," which we're all supposed to claim as our favorite because it is one of the Greatest Books Ever Written In the English Language. I don't DISLIKE "Pride and Prejudice," but I just don't think it stands up to this one. I'm sorry, but it's true.
"Northanger Abbey" feels like two very different stories that eventually merge into one at the end: the story of feisty, level-headed romance-novel-addict Catherine Morland and her adventures in Bath during the party season, falling in love and making new friends and escaping unpleasant suitors; and the story of Catherine's post-Bath vacation with her new best friend Eleanor back to Eleanor's country home, a huge creepy old place called Northanger Abbey. Catherine's obsession with bloodthirsty Gothic novels leads her to see a mystery or a creepy secret in every room (eventually leading her to suspect Eleanor's grumpy dad of having unceremoniously murdered his own wife, OR, possibly, of locking her up in a hidden dungeon somewhere inside the abbey), and her various misadventures and misunderstandings make for top-shelf farce. But then when a REAL mystery arrives on her doorstep (taking us back into the world of Bath and bringing the two stories together), she realizes that she's been looking at things upside-down and backwards the whole time.
This book has some real,heartfelt drama and romance, but mainly I like it because it's really, really funny. Catherine is awesome and kind of nuts, and the supporting characters run the gamut from really likeable and charming (Eleanor and her brother Henry) to the excruciatingly irritating John and Isabella, who totally beat out both Mrs. Bennet, Aunt Norris, and Lucy Steele in my list of Best-Ever Annoying Jane Austen Characters.
Okay, that’s a little bit of a lie. I know the most important thing I have to say. First and foremost: I’M IN LOVE WITH HENRY TILNEY.
SO FUNNY, smart, handsome, owns a cute house, and dare I say...surprisingly non bigoted?! He’s the best. But let me backtrack a bit.
Northanger Abbey is Austen’s satire, and she pokes fun at gothic horror books by having her heroine, Catherine, believe she’s essentially in one. AND SO MUCH GOOD COMES OUT OF THIS. The satire is hilarious - there’s one moment, for example, when what Catherine believes is a ~spooky, ghastly scroll~ is really a list of the contents of a linen closet.
But right when it’s about to stop being funny, and you’re getting just the teensiest bit annoyed at Catherine’s naïveté, it ends! She confesses to Henry, whose father she believes is a murderer, and he gently shoots her down while still being all, “I love you, girl.” It’s really great. AUSTEN IS A TALENT.
That’s the wonderful bit about this satire, IMO. I don’t alwayssss love literary satire, because it gives me secondhand-embarrassment cringes. But this is satire within another narrative - a more typical Austen storyline. So it’s funny and biting, while also being cute and happy and having adorable characters and a lovely ending! Talk about a TOTAL win-win, amiright?
There are also even MORE plus sides to this. Austen makes a lot of sweeping generalizations about “heroines” and plots and books, and they are all hysterically funny and insanely accurate. She also writes a few amazing defenses of fiction - isn’t that wild? While we’re out here with people trying to make others feel bad for liking YA, our brethren in Austen’s lifetime couldn’t even read novels without judgment. Call me crazy, but I’d rather someone insult my intellect for having read Sarah J. Maas than have to read 19th century TEXTBOOKS in order to be considered ~marriage material~. Bleh. Total nightmare, no? Let’s count our blessings and chill the hell out for one freaking second.
But I digress. Let’s talk more about those characterssss. They are, in turn, perfectly hate-able and lovable. Hang on. I’ll explain.
When people are all, “She’s a villain I love to hate!” I seriously never understand. I don’t ever love hating characters. It makes reading unpleasant, usually, even villains. Like Levana from The Lunar Chronicles, or whatever. I just hated her. I didn’t enjoy hating her. She got on my nerves and I was displeased whenever she showed up.
But...Isabella and her brother in this book? Pretty hilarious. They’re super annoying - Isabella uses people, is self-obsessed, and lies all the time; her brother is a total self-serving asshole. But when sweet lil Catherine is utterly ignorant to their flaws? It’s really funny. The way Isabella’s dialogue is written in particular made me laugh a lot, genuinely. Do people actually laugh out loud while reading on the reg?
But also there are characters who are so intensely lovable! (Especially my husband.) Catherine, for one thing. She could be a little irritating, because she’s SO immature sometimes, but she’s just, like, a good person to her core who is so kind to those around her. You can’t hate her. At least I couldn’t, and I hate most characters.
But let’s talk more about bae. You can’t see me, but I actually just turned into a heart eyes emoji from the neck up. Henry Tilney is a charmer from the SECOND he shows up. The banter he has with Catherine...unreal. Austen outdoes herself. Now I wanna reread their meeting scene. Ugh.
And ultimately, this is just a bananas well-written book. A real masterpiece. Some of Austen’s most famous quotes are from this book, and it totally makes sense why. Here are a couple fresh examples:
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
See what I mean? I just read this book and I already wanna pick it up again.
Bottom line: Charming characters, hilarity, biting satire, gorgeous quotes...It’s Austen at her best. But when isn’t she at her best?
Jane Austen’s novels are just about romance and naïve women. There just another telling of boy meets girl in an uninspiring way with a few social issues thrown in. Well, ashamed as I am to admit it, that is what I used to believe in my woefully idiotic ignorance. How foolish of me. Now that I’ve actually bothered to read one of her novels, because I had to for university purposes, I realise how stupid I was to actually think this. Jane Austen is one of, if not the, best novelists of all time. If you disbelieve me, and held a similar opinion to my own, then read one of her novels and find out for yourself.
That being said though Catherine, the protagonist of this novel, is somewhat ignorant and naïve to the ways of the world; but, she had to be. Indeed, if not Austen would have been unable to achieve such an endearing comment on the absurdity of society, the role of women in that said society, and the ignorance toward the unpopular literary craft of the novel. How else if not though the eyes of an innocent young girl who cannot understand the mechanisms of these aspects of the world? Who when thrust into the pump room (a sort of ball room for dance and socialising) has virtually no idea how to behave.
Catherine has an immeasurable misunderstanding of the intentions of others, and a misguided view that the world is like one of her beloved books: a romantic adventure with a little bit of popular gothic thrown in for excitement. She cannot comprehend the reasoning behind her friend, Isabella Thorpe’s, behaviour and how she is only leading her brother along; she cannot understand that Henry’s father is not a gothic villain, but a man in mourning with a harsh temper: her vision has become obscured.
"Catherine's blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which naturally sprang from these words. Could it be possible? - Could Henry's father? - And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions!"
This is achieved through a narration that is a work of genius. Austen has satirised the conventions of gothic literature by writing a semi-gothic novel herself that is focalised through the experience of Catherine. Catherine is well read, but only as far as the gothic genre allows. This has clouded her interpretation of the events that occur around her, consequently, life to her has become akin to the works by authors such as Radcliffe.
This means that by the time that Catherine arrives at the abbey she expects it to be this place of utter darkness and dread; she expects to be a gothic castle and the home to a tyrannical gothic villain. However, when the veil is lifted and she realises that her life is in fact not a book and the motivations of the people in it are not what she thought them to be, the revelation of how foolish she has been dawns upon her. I’m not going to lie, I felt like Catherine at this point; I held a ridiculous opinion that when lifted allowed me to see the work of Austen for what it was: utter brilliance.
I love Northanger Abbey; it is brilliant. Jane Austen is the master of her craft; her work is what she argued the novel to be:
“Only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”
"Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again."
Seventeen year old Catherine Morland, as innocent and naïve a heroine as Austen ever created, with no particular distinguishing characteristics except goodhearted sincerity and an overfondness for Gothic novels, is invited to stay in Bath for several weeks with kindly and wealthy neighbors. She meets a new bestie, Isabella ...
... as well as Henry Tilney, a guy who's far too quick―not to mention wealthy―for her. But he has a weakness for cute girls who totally admire him.
Their relationship strikes me as weak, probably because Austen was focused more on creating a parody by turning Gothic conventions on their heads than on creating a compelling heroine and romance. Henry is a great character, but Catherine really isn't quite up to his level, despite all of Jane Austen's rationalizations (though maybe that's true to life sometimes). However, I comfort myself with the thought that Catherine isn't unintelligent, just young and inexperienced. I have faith in Henry's ability to kindly help her learn to think more deeply and critically.
Austen inserts a lot of sarcastic side comments mocking Gothic plot elements, like Catherine's father being "not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters" and her mother "instead of dying in bringing the latter [sons] into the world, as anybody might expect," still living on in inexplicably good health. But Austen also takes the time, whilst skewering Gothic novels, to make a few pleas to readers in favor of novels generally. And she creates one of her most deliciously shallow and hypocritical characters in Isabella, whose mendacious comments, along with Henry's sarcastic ones, were the biggest pleasure in this book for me.
When Catherine is invited to visit with Henry's family at the formidable Northanger Abbey, all her Gothic daydreams finally seem poised to come true. A mysterious heavy chest in her bedroom, with silver handles "broken perhaps prematurely by some strange violence"; an odd locked area of the house; a man she suspects of doing away with his wife. Gasp! Austen makes fun of it all, and Catherine's "disturbed imagination" along with it. Catherine repeatedly gets shot down and then makes firm although not necessarily long-lasting resolutions not to let her imagination run away with her in the future. But it seems likely that, in the end, she's gained some experience and wisdom.
Not to mention
Good fun! The 2007 BBC TV movie with Felicity Jones and JJ Feild takes a few liberties with the book's plot, but I still recommend it highly.
Random trivia: Watership Down uses the ending lines from Northanger Abbey as one of its final chapter heading quotes, in what is probably my favorite use ever of a literary quote in an entirely different yet completely fitting context.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Elizabeth may be the most beloved, & Emma may be the hated, and (of course) Elinor is the most sensible, but I personally think Catherine is the most relatable.
We can't all be as witty and perceptive as Lizzie, and we hopefully aren't as meddling and silly as Emma. But Catherine? Well, she's somewhere in the middle of normal. She's not always as clever as she wishes, she's not the wealthiest heiress in the room, and she's not always sure of what she's doing. She's just...every girl who's ever gone to the big city and gotten a little dazzled by the wrong friends, overwhelmed by their imagination, and fallen in love with a handsome boy with a good sense of humor. Also, she loves a good gothic novel.
Catherine seemed kind of silly and ignorant at first glance, but as the book goes on you realize that it's just that she's young and trusting. As the story progresses, you see her slowly come into herself, find her voice, and learn how to stand up to the characters that would lead her to do the wrong thing.
And then there's Northanger Abby. Which, all things considered, wasn't all that interesting. There were a few funny moments when she first arrived and tried her hand at becoming a gothic heroine, but I hoped there would be more to it than that. <--lotta buildup, not a lotta payoff!
And Henry? He's the male version of Catherine. He's not some dashing Superman, he's just a nice normal guy who does the right thing. I was maybe happier for these two lovebirds when they beat the odds than I am for a lot of literary couples because they were just so damn regular.
I read this 10 years ago and decided to listen to it on audiobook this time around. Loved it! Wanda McCaddon was the narrator and she was absolutely wonderful.
"The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
This is my third Austen novel: Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility being the first two, and when I reviewed the first two, I felt that I did not do justice to the author, mainly because I thought myself not nearly qualified to review them. And now that I'm finished with Northanger Abbey, I have to confess, I still cannot shake that feeling off. But still, when one enjoys a book - a lot, it's hard not to say something - though that something might not measure up to the standards of the author's typical audience.
"To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid."
Being a little familiar with two of Austen's novels prior to this, I did expect Northanger Abbey to share some similarities - in the the style of writing, protagonist's way of seeing the world and how the reader is allowed to empathize in quite an interesting way - and they were there. However, to me, Northanger Abbey seemed like a comedy for the majority of the book. True, the beginning and the ending chapters did not share this, but still, most middle chapters appeared to be written with the chief aim of making the reader laugh, more than anything. And in my case, it did so quite well.
"man only can be aware of the insensibility of man towards a new gown."
Again, I don't believe I'm qualified enough to comment on Austen's writing skills, but cannot help mentioning how beautifully narrated everything is. It's the same exulting feeling I got while reading Pride and Prejudice, and, though Northanger Abbey might not be as well written or detailed as the former, I loved it almost the same. I'm gonna let this one be kind of a incomplete review, and one I'm someday going to re try (and hoping I'd be somewhat better by that time to better appreciate everything). But for now, I'll be content in saying I like this one better than Sense and Sensibility, but not quite as much as Pride and Prejudice.
"To be guided by second-hand conjecture is pitiful."
"It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language."
Well, I guess Jane Austen wrote my review of her novel - in her novel. That's a bit annoying, as I can't compete with her wit of course. But even more annoying is the fact that I wrote my own imaginary review in my head before I started the book - and as opposed to Austen's summary, mine doesn't work out at all anymore, now that I know the story. It is dangerous to check the facts before writing your opinion - for facts have the frustrating habit of changing your opinions - if you dare to leave the realm of your fiction.
Like the young heroine in Northanger Abbey, I seemed to have lost grip of fiction and reality recently - due to an overly greedy consumption of novels!
Like the young heroine, I thought I knew what to expect of characters, setting and plot before I had even ventured out to explore them, and like her, I created a massive amount of tension for myself, only to find myself in the somewhat silly situation of waking up to a reality that did not at all justify my preconceived ideas.
Let's say I prided myself in "knowing" what to expect of Jane Austen. Let's say I started full of prejudices. Let's say that I had to force myself to come to my senses after a roller coaster that tested my sensibility more than I am willing to admit. Let's say I thought I had a perfect review in the making, following the idea of explaining the exaggerated characters and dramatic actions with regard to Austen's time, place and gender. I was going to put Northanger Abbey in its place - liking it for its classic status, but dismissing it (secretly) as irrelevant in the modern context. I was going to compare it to earlier works of Gothic fiction, and maybe even to my timeless favourite Dickens and his comically evil villains and puritan heroes.
But no. It won't do.
She's a bloody genius, - Jane Austen (if one can still say that nowadays without involuntarily insulting her intelligence and judgment)!
Exaggerated characters? The Thorpes too vain, greedy, shallow and stupid? Eh - show me the person in high society today that is NOT equally vulgar, volatile and obvious!
Ridiculous naivety of the heroine? Eh - we have people organising Flat Earth Conferences (and it isn't even fiction or satire, but plain truth).
Old-fashioned family structures? Eh - if the eternal generation conflict was solved in the meantime, I must have missed it! Can you send me the action plan, please?
So, if there is anything "dated" in Jane Austen, it must be the lovable character of her protagonist, her passionate argument for reading (novels), and her linguistically convincing prose. Well, for those minor defects I am willing to forgive her, in the name of classic literature.
She's proof that literature can always transcend the narrow boundaries of its time and place. It can speak to readers all over the world, in the most various life circumstances - as long as the message is honest and rings true.
Loved it. Despite all my pride and prejudice, with all my sense and sensibility.
Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen's novels, to be completed for publication, in 1803. However, it was not published until after her death in 1817, along with another novel of hers, Persuasion.
Northanger Abbey is a satire of Gothic novels, which were quite popular at the time, in 1798–99. This coming-of-age story revolves around Catherine Morland, a young and naïve "heroine," who entertains the reader on her journey to a better understanding of the world and those around her.
In the course of the novel, she discovers that she differs from those other women who crave wealth or social acceptance, as instead she wishes only to have happiness supported by genuine morality.
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. She is soon introduced to a clever young gentleman, Henry Tilney, with whom she dances and converses.
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.
The Thorpes are not happy about Catherine's friendship with the Tilneys, as they correctly perceive Henry as a rival for Catherine's affections, though Catherine is not at all interested in the crude John Thorpe.
Catherine tries to maintain her friendships with both the Thorpes and the Tilneys, though John Thorpe continuously tries to sabotage her relationship with the Tilneys. This leads to several misunderstandings, which put Catherine in the awkward position of having to explain herself to the Tilneys. ...
عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «کاترین (کلیسای نورت هنگر)»؛ «صومعه شمالی»؛ «صومعه نورت هنگر»؛ «نورثنگر ابی»؛ نویسنده: جین آستین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه دسامبر سال1985میلادی
عنوان: کاترین (کلیسای نورت هنگر)؛ اثر: جین آستین؛ مترجم: منوچهر آرام؛ تهران؛ کوشش، سال1363، در348ص؛ چاپ دیگر با عنوان کاترین: تهران، پر، سال1372؛ در288ص؛ چاپ سوم زمستان سال1372؛ چاپ دیگر سال1388 در320ص؛ شابک9789648007466؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م
عنوان: صومعه شمالی؛ اثر: جین آستین؛ مترجم: وحید منوچهری واحد؛ تهران؛ جامی، سال1389، در255ص؛ چاپ دوم سال1392؛ شابک9786001760181؛
عنوان: نورثنگر ابی؛ اثر: جین آستین؛ مترجم: رضا رضایی؛ تهران؛ نشر نی، سال1387، در280ص؛ شابک9789643129934؛ چاپ دوم سال1388؛ چاپ چهارم سال1392؛
نخستین اثر «جین آستین» است؛ ایشان، این کتاب را در سال1803میلادی، به یک کتابفروشی، به نام «کرازبی و شرکا»، به مبلغ ده پوند فروختند؛ اما «کرازبی و شرکا»، کتاب را منتشر نکردند؛ در سال1816میلادی، ناشر، همان کتاب را، به همان مبلغ، به برادر «جین آستین» برگرداند؛ کتاب، پس از درگذشت نویسنده، در روزهای پایانی ماه دسامبر سال1817میلادی، منتشر، و در عنوانش، سال1818میلادی نگاشته شد
آغاز داستان، از برگردان جناب آقای «منوچهر آرام»: (از مشاهده ی «کاترین مورلند»، هیچکس گمان نمیبرد، که خصوصیات یک زن قهرمان را، با خود همراه داشته باشد؛ موقعیت او در زندگی، شخصیت پدر و مادر، ویژگیهای فردی، و تمایلات باطنی اش، تماما تضادی را، با ظاهر او آشکار میساختند؛ پدر او، وابسته به کلیسا، سرشناس، و نسبتا متمول، و مرد محترمی به شمار میرفته، گرچه چندان جذابیتی در او، مشاهده نمیگردید؛ ولی در عین حال، با نام «ریچارد»، مورد توجه همگان قرار داشت؛ او با برخورداری از دو سرچشمه ی امرار معاش زندگی، از استقلال کافی برخوردار بود، و دست کم عادت نداشت، که محدودیتی در برابر دخترهای خود، ایجاد نماید؛ مادر «کاترین»، زنی سرشار از احساسات درونی، خوش اخلاق، و برخوردار از دیگر صفات نیکو، در کمال صحت، و تندرستی بود، و پیش از آنکه «ک��ترین» متولد شود، سه پسر به دنیا آورده بود…؛)؛ پایان نقل
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 26/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Catherine Morland is your typical seventeen -year- old -girl, of the turn of the century (19th, that is). She reads too much, an illness that is sadly terminal, Gothic books are her passion and the rage of the era . Any ancient home that is eerie , ominous or sinister the young lady would enjoy seeing, if there were any in the area. She lives in a quiet English village, (too quiet) where everyone knows each other, which keeps the populous from misadventures. Her parents have ten children and surprisingly, her mother is alive and healthy. Miss Morland's father is a well to do clergyman, but with all those kids, nobody would know especially Catherine. Mrs. Allen a wealthy neighbor is going on a six -week vacation to Bath, with Mr.Allen ( he has the fashionable gout ), the most famous resort in England. Mrs. Allen needs an agreeable companion to talk to, she's rather silly, asks Catherine. Her chief interest is clothes, still how long can you speak about fashion, before it gets tiresome? The fatigued husband doesn't stay in her presence very long. Arriving in town is exciting and daunting, soon people start to notice Miss Catherine Morland particularly young men, a new experience for her. She grew up a tomboy playing outside with the boys, not inside with dolls. Yet the last three years her homely awkwardness has vanished, a pleasant, pretty appearance she acquires that even her astonished mother, acknowledges. Catherine soon forms a friendship with Isabella Thorpe a beautiful, deceitful, gold digger, her family has little, but she has ... at 21, time is running out for her to catch a rich husband. It doesn't take long to discover that Catherine's brother James, and Isabella's brother John, are best friends, so naturally the two ladies also become too. Then the brothers of the girls come to town, unexpectedly. Catherine loves her plain looking older brother, and you can imagine the shock that she feels, when James and Isabella become engaged! Yes, it's the first time Catherine has been out of her insulated village, of Fullerton. Still true love has a rocky road to travel, when it isn't. Henry Tilney a wealthy man's son, meets the charming Catherine at a dance. She has eyes for him, but so does Isabella's annoying brother John, for her (he's always talking about his horses). However Henry's older brother Captain Frederick Tilney, arrives too, very popular Bath is for romance and starts flirting with Isabella, which she doesn't mind but James does. He has more money than Catherine's brother. The resort is famous for the miraculous waters, though most go there for the dancing, plays, card games and walking around in the Grand Pump Room and meeting the rich... Showing everyone who's interested they're in town, nobody is... Later Catherine is invited by General Tilney the father of Henry, to go to Northanger Abbey, his home. Amazingly a real Gothic house with his son, and daughter Eleanor, another friend of Catherine 's and stay a few weeks. The girl with a wild imagination is thrilled, finally, all Catherine's dreams have come to pass ...
A charming early Austen novel filled with overt criticism of Mrs. Radcliffe and implied criticism of Fanny Burney . . . but this is very gentle criticism indeed, since young Jane is obviously a huge fan of both writers.
Her heroine Catharine Morland is a charming naif in the Evelina mode--perhaps just a little too naive, and therein lies some of the criticism--who is fascinated by all things gothic and therefore misinterprets much of what she sees, manufacturing the sinister in a score of places and yet not recognizing real evil when it stares her in the face.
The book, while filled with good sense, is nevertheless lighthearted and very funny, and may well be the sunniest of Austen's works.
Northanger Abbey is the shortest of Jane Austen's six major novels, and has a special place in many readers' hearts. In many ways it is not the tightly constructed witty sort of story we expect from this author, yet its spontaneity and rough edges prove to be part of its charm. Started when she was very young, it should perhaps more properly be classed as part of her juvenilia. What lifts it above the other earlier works, however, is the skill she demonstrates for writing a parody of all the gothic romantic novels which were so popular at the time. And this aspect is twinned with another of Jane Austen's concerns, a satirical observation of human nature within a narrow band of society; a comedy of manners.
There are many literary allusions, which focus on the gothic genre. At the time Jane Austen was writing, novels - especially gothic novels of this type - were looked down upon by many people, particularly those of the upper classes. It is likely that a young writer would therefore feel that she needed a strong position from which to defend her craft against any critics who might in future disparage her work. The characters in Northanger Abbey itself constantly refer both to "Mrs Radcliffe", and her novels, such as "The Mysteries of Udolpho" and "The Italian" by name. At one point, where Catherine, the heroine, is chatting to her friend, she asks Isabella for suggestions. Her friend replies,
"I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. "Castle of Wolfenbach", "Clermont", "Mysterious Warnings", "Necromancer of the Black Forest", "Midnight Bell", "Orphan of the Rhine", and "Horrid Mysteries". Those will last us some time."
And Catherine insists,
"Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?"
As an interesting aside, although for many years these were assumed to be merely invented titles by Jane Austen, it has since come to light that they are actual gothic novels, by different authors. They have subsequently been republished as "The Northanger Horrid Novels Collection".
This particular sort of comedy is lacking in Jane Austen's subsequent novels, which perhaps are a little more cautious in their wit and irony, being intended for a wider audience. Northanger Abbey was meant mainly as family entertainment, which is why Austen mischievously includes so many literary references, which she expected her relatives to pick up and recognise. Jane Austen also addresses the reader directly throughout the novel, and sometimes voices her own opinions quite forcefully, forgetting the story for a moment. But perhaps she had an eye to the future, considering that attack is the best form of defence, and writing this way quite deliberately in anticipation of any critical assessment. As these passages burst upon us, we are provided with a little insight into Austen's opinions at the time. Famously, very little remains extant, to show us her opinions, due to her instructions to her sister Cassandra to burn all her letters after her death.
Originally Northanger Abbey was entitled "Susan" and written around 1798-99. It was the first of her novels to be submitted for publication, in 1803. However, it was not in fact published until 1817-18, after further revision by the author, including changing the main character's name from "Susan" to "Catherine". Jane Austen died in July 1817. The two novels Northanger Abbey and "Persuasion" (her final novel) were thus both published posthumously, comprising the first two volumes of a four-volume set. Interestingly, neither title was her own invention, but probably that of her brother, Henry, who had been instrumental in their publication.
As well as being a Gothic parody, and a comedy of manners, Northanger Abbey is a coming of age novel, another favourite theme from Jane Austen. The first sentence,
"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine"
sets the very droll, tongue in cheek tone for the writing. We are chattily introduced to the young and naïve Catherine, the novel's unlikely heroine. Catherine is not particularly pretty or feminine, and one of ten children of a country clergyman. However, by the age of 17, we are told that she is "in training for a heroine", having all the attributes considered desirable in a young girl at the time. The reader enjoys Catherine's youthful enthusiasm and also how impressionable she is. She has crazes, such as being excessively fond of reading Gothic novels - the more "horrid" she claims with glee, the better. She takes everything at face value, at the start of the novel being unable to see any deviousness, or any baser motives. Catherine is not very perceptive, not ever able to interpret what may lie behind certain actions if it is negative. She is innocent - a naïve - and in this, has a lot of charm and attraction for the reader.
We follow Catherine's progress, as she is invited by some wealthier neighbours in Fullerton, the Allens, to accompany them to visit the fashionable town of Bath. There she is introduced to society over the winter season, through attending balls and the theatre. So although it is constantly referred to, there is in fact little gothic feel in the whole first half of the novel. It is much more similar to Jane Austen's later novels, both in its setting, and its preoccupations. It is concerned with young people and their feelings; how they mature, and how their marriage prospects improve as a consequence. In this aspect, all Jane Austen's novels are very similar, and all of them have reassuringly happy endings. Jane Austen is always keen to entertain her readers!
Catherine's amiability and good character is further demonstrated through her making friends, in Bath, with a confident older girl, Isabella Thorpe, the daughter of Mrs Allen's old school-friend. The reader can see straightaway that Isabella is far more savvy and ambitious than Catherine, and possibly manipulating her new friend. Isabella has a brother, John whom Catherine is delighted to find is also a friend of her older brother, James. Both young men are fellow students at Oxford University. However she (and the reader) takes an instant dislike to John, finding him pompous, brash, boastful and overbearing. In the meantime she has met a witty and clever young gentleman, Henry Tilney, and enjoyed his company and conversation. The reader can deduce that, at 17, she is well on the way to falling in love with this intelligent and polite, slightly older and more experienced gentleman.
The novel has several social situations which, although very much of their time, reveal essential aspects of human nature which are timeless. The difficulties facing Catherine are difficulties and situations common to all teenagers. There is embarrassment, a feeling of gaucheness and several occasions where the peer pressure is very strong, such as when James, Isabella and John try to persuade her to join them when she had made a former promise for another engagement. Catherine also has to learn how to stay polite and resolute when she is bullied by John Thorpe. And when she eventually returns home to her parents, uncomprehending of why she has been treated in such a shameful way, the reader is treated to the common enough spectacle of a moody, sulky teenager.
For the second half of the novel the setting has switched to Northanger Abbey itself, as Catherine has received an invitation to stay there. The tone becomes slightly darker, and the viewpoint switches to be almost entirely from Catherine's perspective, using free indirect narration. Everything is presented from Catherine's point of view, which leads to some hilarious moments, due to her romantic notions of what an ancient abbey should be like. The reader has been well prepared for this, through conversations between Catherine and Henry Tilney. Here she is very excited about the prospect of a visit to the abbey,
"You have formed a very favourable idea of the abbey." "To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?"
Henry Tilney continues to tease her, although Catherine revels in the descriptions, not realising that this is what he is doing,
"And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as "what one reads about" may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry? ... "Will not your mind misgive you when you find yourself in this gloomy chamber - too lofty and extensive for you, with only the feeble rays of a single lamp to take in its size - its walls hung with tapestry exhibiting figures as large as life, and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even a funereal appearance? Will not your heart sink within you?"
Catherine waits impatiently for her visit, whereas the reader has been privy to broad hints that the abbey may not be at all as she expects. Sure enough, our innocent heroine's expectations increase on the journey,
"As they drew near the end of their journey, her impatience for a sight of the abbey ... returned in full force, and every bend in the road was expected with solemn awe to afford a glimpse of its massy walls of grey stone, rising amidst a grove of ancient oaks, with the last beams of the sun playing in beautiful splendour on its high Gothic windows."
But as the reader expects, the exterior of the building comes as a bit of a let-down,
"She knew not that she had any right to be surprised, but there was a something in this mode of approach which she certainly had not expected. To pass between lodges of a modern appearance, to find herself with such ease in the very precincts of the abbey, and driven so rapidly along a smooth, level road of fine gravel, without obstacle, alarm, or solemnity of any kind, struck her as odd and inconsistent ...
The windows, to which she looked with peculiar dependence, from having heard the general talk of his preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were yet less what her fancy had portrayed. To be sure, the pointed arch was preserved - the form of them was Gothic - they might be even casements - but every pane was so large, so clear, so light! To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone-work, for painted glass, dirt, and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing."
All the descriptions of Bath society, both in Northanger Abbey and Austen's other novels, are drawn from her own experience. One of the interesting aspects of Northanger Abbey, however, is that passages such as these seem to indicate she incorporates her reading experience as well as her real-life experience; it is just as much a product of the Gothic novels that she herself read. One of the highlights of the novel is where Henry Tilney teases Catherine about the "horrid" contents of such novels. Typically there would be a crumbling old building, possibly an abbey, once used to house nuns or monks. The abbey would then become abandoned and derelict, and later bought by an evil lord or baron. Dastardly deeds would occur in the ancient edifice, once the lord or baron took possession, and the once holy nature of the abbey would become an ironic feature in these Gothic novels.
Northanger Abbey is a dreadful disappointment for Catherine, who had imagined herself as the heroine of a Gothic novel. Living out her imaginative fantasies, she was hoping to be thrilled by mystery, horror, and sinister and macabre deeds from an earlier time. She had found Bath to be a pleasant tourist town, interesting for her to visit, but in Catherine's mind, the Abbey would inevitably be a place of new heightened experiences. At every point where the Abbey turns out to be conventional and normal, Catherine remembers the abbeys from her favourite gothic novels, deliberately frightening herself to complete her thrilling anticipations,
"The night was stormy; the wind had been rising at intervals the whole afternoon; and by the time the party broke up, it blew and rained violently. Catherine, as she crossed the hall, listened to the tempest with sensations of awe; and, when she heard it rage round a corner of the ancient building and close with sudden fury a distant door, felt for the first time that she was really in an abbey."
Catherine still longs for the abbey to conform to her imagined ideal, and one of the funniest scenes in the book is At this point Catherine begins to see how ludicrous and immature her fantasies have been and begins to be rather ashamed of herself. Here is the start of this episode,
"she was struck by the appearance of a high, old-fashioned black cabinet, which, though in a situation conspicuous enough, had never caught her notice before. Henry’s words, his description of the ebony cabinet which was to escape her observation at first, immediately rushed across her; and though there could be nothing really in it, there was something whimsical, it was certainly a very remarkable coincidence! She took her candle and looked closely at the cabinet ...
It was some time however before she could unfasten the door, the same difficulty occurring in the management of this inner lock as of the outer; but at length it did open; and not vain, as hitherto, was her search; her quick eyes directly fell on a roll of paper pushed back into the further part of the cavity, apparently for concealment, and her feelings at that moment were indescribable. Her heart fluttered, her knees trembled, and her cheeks grew pale. She seized, with an unsteady hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations this striking exemplification of what Henry had foretold, resolved instantly to peruse every line before she attempted to rest."
This parody is not only entertaining, as the reader enjoys the heightened drama, and the exaggerated language which would be a typical feature of the gothic novels of the day. We also hold in our minds the strong suspicion that what Catherine is to discover may be quite ordinary and unremarkable, and are eager for the heroine to be thwarted and become crestfallen - yet there is just a tiny possibility remaining in our minds that there is indeed something "most horrid". The skill of Jane Austen's narration lies in showing the gap between how things would be in the ideal life of a fictional heroine, and how things actually are in reality for the innocent naïve Catherine, and the consequent absurdity.
Here is the culmination of the ironic humour in this episode, when Catherine is plunged into darkness,
"Catherine, for a few moments, was motionless with horror. It was done completely; not a remnant of light in the wick could give hope to the rekindling breath. Darkness impenetrable and immovable filled the room. A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, a sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear. Human nature could support no more. A cold sweat stood on her forehead, the manuscript fell from her hand, and groping her way to the bed, she jumped hastily in, and sought some suspension of agony by creeping far underneath the clothes."
For Catherine fantasies are all; life is exciting, and people are seen as wholly good or wholly bad. She does not realise, as the reader does, that General Tilney is an outright snob, constantly anxiously comparing his home and gardens with those of Mr. Allen. These parts, and the depiction of General Tilney's character (which, oddly, is very similar to the character of Mr. Elliot, the father of the heroine Anne in Jane Austen's final novel, "Persuasion") is one of the most amusing parts to the reader. General Tilney is always so very pleased to find that his belongings are larger or more impressive than those of Mr. Allen. Of course, the justification for this, is that he wants his children to marry into rich and wealthy families. The people Jane Austen identifies with and writes about are a very narrow band of the gentry. Tradesmen, and anyone who works for a living, are to be looked down on. The aristocracy are often to be poked fun at. Jane Austen's heroes and heroines are frequently from good families, but have fallen on hard times. They are almost invariably impoverished gentlefolk.
Catherine still seems very naïve in her behaviour, however. She has no idea of the love interests surrounding her, not seeming to notice It is only when she begins to perceive such thoughts as ridiculous, that Catherine begins to mature into a young woman.
Northanger Abbey is an enjoyable read even today, well over 200 years after it was written. The characters are recognisable types even now, as human nature does not change, only the mores of the society they are in. And there are some memorably entertaining minor characters in this novel. Some critics say that the hero, Henry Tilney, is too much of a bully, and behaves in a patronising way to Catherine. He frequently points out her mistakes and tries to mould her into thinking the way he does. It could be argued that this was very much a prevalent view of the time, although readers now may have a problem accepting such a relationship as something to be wished for.
Yet even here, Jane Austen show that her ideas were more advanced than many of her contemporaries,
"The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance."
So although the author accepts that such a disparity in a romantic relationship - or ultimately marriage - was to be expected, she does not praise stupidity in women. Jane Austen maintains that men do not look for stupidity in women, only ignorance, because some men enjoy instructing women. In this particular novel, the reader is led to assume that Henry enjoys Catherine's ignorance, her impressionable and youthful mind, because it gives him a chance to teach her. A modern reader will of course take exception to such a message; the idea that this is in any way to be desired. But a modern reader can also appreciate the subtle distinction between ignorance and stupidity - and also that Austen's eye for these matters is always both perceptive and deeply sarcastic. She writes with a waspish wit, about what she knows. Yes, it is a narrow band of society and culture, within a very specific time-frame, but she sometimes manages to dissociate herself from its constraints, and always excels in what she does.
2020 view: “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Austins' mockery cum satire of Gothic romances with the well informed and rather narky mostly third party omniscient narrator, who also talks directly to the reader(!), made me smile... and sometimes say 'burn'! Well written as ever, with the social commentary being added by the narrator as well as the storytelling, from the main protagonist Catherine Morland's point of view. As I thought when I first read this, it needed a second read for me to truly appreciate this coming of age, of the avid Gothic romance believer (Catherine) with her time, thoughts and experiences in Bath and then on to Northanger Abbey. It is with a happy heart that I that I can now add 3 more points to this read - 8 out of 12
2008 view Austins' mockery/satire of Gothic romances left me a bit cold to be honest. Yes, as ever, wonderfully written, but the social commentary overrode the storytelling in my opinion. Although knowing me, it will probably take a second read to appreciate this coming of age take of avid Gothic romance believer Catherine Morland's time and experiences in Bath and then on Northanger Abbey. Until my reread, I will have the utter shame of awarding this book a Two Star, 5 out of 12.
NOVELS. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another, we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens,--there seems almost a general with of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. “I am no novel reader--I seldom look into novels--Do not imagine that I often read novels--It is really very well for a novel.’--Such is the common cant.--”And what are you reading, Miss--?’ “Oh! it is only a novel!’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame.
Gertrude Stein: Do you know why you are here Mr. Keeten? Keeten: I don’t even know where I am. Stein: You are before the Book Tribunal. I rubbed my jaw. Keeten: Did Hemingway have to slug me? Stein: Fetching, people such as yourself, to appear before this tribunal seems to be the one thing that Hemingway does enjoy about serving on the panel. Hemingway gave a short bark of a laugh.
Stein: Let me introduce Charlotte Bronte and of course you’ve met Mr. Hemingway. I waved at Bronte. Hemingway gave me a salute. I gave him a tight nod and my jaw another rub. Stein: You have been assigned counsel. Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Keeten: Yes I would like to talk to him. Maybe he can explain what this is all about. Where is he? Stein: I do believe he is under your table. I leaned over and spied a slumped form softly snoring. I grabbed a shoulder and rolled him over. Gin fumes teared up my eyes. Keeten: Miss Stein I need a new counsellor. Stein: I’m afraid that is impossible. You’ve told many people that Fitzgerald is your favorite writer and the rules of this tribunal is that your favorite writer represents you. Keeten: I’d like to change that to Gore Vidal. Bouts of laughter greet this request. Only then did I realize that the seats behind me were full of dead writers. I waved to Kurt Vonnegut and he gave me a wink. Keeten: Was something I said humorous? Stein: In the short time that Mr. Vidal has joined us he has been requested many times, but unfortunately no one has been before us that actually considered him to be their favorite writer. Hemingway: You chose unwisely. Fitzgerald over me what a joke that is. Keeten: I think your work is swell Hemingway and Miss Bronte, I really loved Villette. Stein: Okay, okay Mr. Keeten enough with the flattering. What do you think of my work? Keeten: Erhhh Her mannish features framed a pronounced grimace. Stein: That’s okay Mr. Keeten I won’t force you to manufacture platitudes, very few people can really understand and appreciate my work. I thought a change of subject was in order. Keeten: Why exactly am I here? Stein: It is regarding Jane Austen. I felt my blood run a little cold. Keeten: I just finished reading Northanger Abbey. Stein: Yes we know. In the past you have made some rather cutting remarks about Miss Austen. Keeten: I won’t deny that I harbored some resentment, not towards Miss Austen as much as towards a survey class I was forced to take in college. Stein: You sir, are parsing words. Hemingway interrupted. Isn’t it time for a drink? Stein: Why not? Djuna Barnes walked out with a silver tray filled with shots of gin and as the glass clinked on the table in front of me Fitzgerald sprang up like a jack in the box with his hand out, fingers none too steady, reaching for a glass. He slammed the shot down his throat and before I could tilt my own glass up he’d already slid back beneath the table. The gin hit my stomach like a mariachi band. As Barnes walked back by me after serving the judges, looked in the prime of life like all the judges, although that was up for debate with Stein, I said you are prettier than your pictures.
Barnes: Save it. You are not even remotely my type. I could feel the heat on my neck climbing up to my cheeks. She flipped my chin with her finger. Barnes: Good luck anyway. Stein: If you are finished annoying Miss Barnes, Mr. Keeten, can we proceed? Keeten: Of course. Stein: As you were saying. Keeten: I apologize to Miss Austen if any of my remarks were inappropriately expressed. I can assure her that I have the utmost respect for her as a writer. In fact I intend to write a very positive review about Northanger Abbey. Stein: The writer in question is not allowed to attend the proceedings, but we will express your regret for your behavior to her. We have a party that we must get to Mr. Keeten so we are going to wrap this up. It is our intention here today to give you a warning about expressing yourself in such flippant ways about the works of the members of this novelist community in the future. If we feel the need to call you back again I can assure you more strident discussion will be conveyed to you. Keeten: Yes ma’am. Stein: Anything further to add Miss Bronte. Bronte: I think he is kind of handsome.
Stein: Irrelevant Miss Bronte and to balance the scales I must say I find him to be a rather unattractive man. Mr. Hemingway? Hemingway: Do I get to send him back? Stein: *Sigh* yes Mr. Hemingway please do so. Hemingway walked across the room towards me. Before I could even speculate about how he was going to send me back his fist imploded against my jaw. As I slid to the floor I heard him say. “I got to send you back the same way you came Tinkerbell.” I woke on the floor of my library in a slurry of drool. My head pounding, both sides of my jaw tender to the touch. Note to self do not write a negative review of Hemingway. From the way my stomach feels I’d say the gin ate a hole through my insides and was still burrowing deeper. I pull myself up to the computer.
The Lovely Jane Austen
The heroine of this novel, Miss Catherine Morland, was a reader of gothic literature. I know it was Jane Austen’s intention to poke fun at the craze of people reading this type of novel, but since I’m a fan of the genre I actually enjoyed the frequent references to the author Ann Radcliffe and the other books that were being bought, enjoyed, and discussed in English drawing rooms of the time. Miss Morland has hopes of finding herself enmeshed in a romance of gothic proportions. When her parents consent to letting her visit friends and she meets new friends she knows she is on the verge of a grand adventure. She meets the Tilney’s, and in particular meets the man of our tale, Henry Tilney, who demonstrates early on that he had the makings of being the romantic hero of the new plot evolving in the mind of Miss Morland. She is invited to visit the Tilney’s at the family estate and the vision that Catherine composes in her mind about Northanger Abbey is doomed for disappointment. To give one example where the Abbey failed to provide the proper gothic atmosphere:
The windows, to which she looked with peculiar dependence, from having heard the General talk of his preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were yet less what her fancy had portrayed. To be sure, the pointed arch was preserved--the form of them was Gothic--they might be even casements--but every pane was so large, so clear, so light! To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone-work, for painted glass, dirt and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing.
Catherine is mortified by her own ineptness with proper behavior. She is manipulated by friends, but proves to be a quick learner and shows a steely spine standing up to their overbearing behavior towards her. When she is cast out she proves her mettle once again finding her own way home with quiet determination despite her inexperience with the workings of the world. Yes she is silly, and maybe because of her Gothic view of the world, I liked Catherine...a lot. I wish the plot of the novel would have allowed more of Henry Tilney as he certainly seemed like a man, a reader of novels, who I would have enjoyed taking a long walk with to discuss literature, life, and all things nice. There is subtle comedy throughout this short novel and even when our heroine is unhappy I didn’t feel distressed, for how could the world deny Catherine her happy ending? If you have struggled with other Austen novels I can assure you this is a breezy affair, not to say that it doesn’t have literary merit, for it has, if nothing else, repaired my relationship with Miss Austen and I fully intend now to reread her other works and evaluate them through attitude adjusted eyes.
Northanger Abbey is a charming story that revolves around a young, innocent, and naive "heroine" (to use Austen's word), Catherine Morland. True to Austen's famous quotation that "If adventures will not befall a young Lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad", the story progresses with Catherine taking an adventurous journey from her home in Fullerton to Bath and then to a Gothic Abbey in Gloucestershire. In her journey, she comes to understand the people and world around her, of what is important in life, and finally find true love and happiness.
More than Austen's other books, Northanger Abbey can be treated as Romance. The lightness, vibrancy, youthful exuberance, and elegance of the setting of Bath in the Regency period I believe brought foremost the romantic element in the story. And the prominence that is given to the sweet love story of Catherine and Henry Tilney is most charming. :)
Marriage and money are always a key theme in Jane Austen's books. And it is here so too. The eagerness to make monetarily advantageous matches by the young men and women for themselves as well as by parents for their children is cleverly and satirically portrayed. The Regency society's consideration of money as the necessity for true happiness in marriage always met with the critical hand of Austen. And her critical social commentary on the matter is always fascinating to read.
Apart from the popular key theme, there is also a Gothic element that touches the storyline in bringing up the Gothic Northanger Abbey - the residence of the Tilneys. The Gothic mysteries that were popular at the time, especially those written by Ann Radcliffe, create in the mind of our young heroine wild imaginations which lead to an uncomfortable confrontation with Henry Tilney. This episode made me reflect on whether Jane Austen was being satirical of the popular Gothic horror mysteries or being appreciative of them. In the manner the consequences of Catherine's imagination were portrayed, I was inclined to believe in the former.
Austen's heroine, Catherine, and hero, Henry are yet another two unforgettable characters. With each Jane Austen book, I'm adding more loving characters to the list of my fictitious friends. :) I loved Catherine. Her innocent naivety combined with the steady righteous mind made her so adorable. Although I don't care about her Gothic horror fancies, I share a love for old castles and abbeys with her. :) Henry! The witty, sarcastic yet strong, steady, and affectionate Henry too is loveable. I enjoyed their story very much, especially the chapters of Catherine's pining after Henry which is so well written by Austen. However, their romance was initiated by the heroine, Catherine and this is a novel case. In Austen's words, "his (Henry's) affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought" is what makes Henry attach himself to Catherine. Interesting!
The rest of the characters were chosen from a lot of friendly, kind, vain, and villainous. Here, however, more than the good characters, my attention was grabbed by a couple of vain and the villainous introduced by Austen. General Tilney heads the way with his pride and cruelty followed closely by the Thorpe sister and brother with their greed. And captain Tilney closes the trail with his vain importance.
The writing is light, spirited, and satirical. Being the first written work by Jane Austen, however, one can detect an amateurish touch. Also, this novel stands a little apart from her later, more successful works, with its Gothic elements and more romance. I liked the difference and enjoyed the satire, which is the common thread of all her novels. On the whole, it is a beautiful work in itself, for, after all, it is Jane Austen, who penned it, and nothing less can come out from her store.
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)
The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label.
Book #24: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (1818)
The story in a nutshell: Although not published until after her death in 1818 (but more on that in a bit), Northanger Abbey was actually the first book written by infamous "chick-lit forerunner" Jane Austen, with most scholars agreeing that she originally penned it in 1798 when barely out of her teens; so it makes sense, then, that the novel centers around the 17-year-old Catherine Morland, and of all the issues important to a typical late teen. A delightful yet melodramatic young woman, Catherine has a way of naturally charming almost everyone she meets, even while being a hopeless devotee of trashy "gothic novels" (think beach-read for the Georgian Era), and of letting them unduly influence her already fanciful and curious mind. When middle-aged friends of the Morlands, then, invite the sheltered rural-living Catherine to join them for six weeks in the cosmopolitan resort town of Bath, she can't help but to be thrilled; and indeed, the bulk of this novel's prose is devoted to capturing the ins-and-outs of youth culture in such a period, the subtle and ultra-complicated flirtation rituals that took place each evening among such communal settings as recital halls and the boardwalk.
Things get even more interesting, though, when one of the friends she makes in Bath invites Catherine to continue her holiday by joining her family at their country home, an old Medieval religious fortress called Northanger Abbey that they've converted into a contemporary living space, with Catherine's goth-filled head going nuts over visions of crumbling cobwebby back hallways and dark family secrets. But alas, the abbey turns out to be quite modern and well-maintained, and all of Catherine's attempts to dream up spooky conspiracy theories are met with perfectly blasé rational explanations; that forces her instead to have to pay attention to the messy romantic entanglements going on between her friends, as well as the constant wooing by her own various would-be suitors that she is constantly trying to brush off. Add a mysterious Napoleonic ship captain, some misunderstandings over money, a couple of messy public breakups; and by the end, we leave our hero a little wiser about the world if not a little more jaded, understanding now as a young adult that it's the consistent behavior of a person through good times and bad that determines their character, not their endowment or war record or any other surface-level statistic you can mention.
The argument for it being a classic: Fans of Northanger Abbey argue that it is Austen distilled into its most essential form -- laser-precise observations about the human condition and the fallacies of so-called "civilized society," but without the obsessive preoccupation over landing a man that marks so much of her later and more well-known work. And that's important, they say, because we should actually be celebrating Austen for the perceptive insights into the human psyche she was capable of, not for the bonnet-wearing eyelash-fluttering romantic elements that seem to so dominate any discussion about her anymore. The reason Austen continues to be so popular, they argue, is precisely because her stories are so timeless at their core; although ostensibly dealing with the fussy aristocratic issues of the day, in reality they say things about the way young women see the world that are still exactly and utterly true of young women 200 years later. It's easy to lose sight of this within the epic frippery of such later masterpieces as Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, fans argue; Northanger Abbey cuts through all this filler, leaving a slim and artistically muscular volume that ironically stands the test of time much better than her bigger projects.
The argument against: Of course, let's not forget that there's a reason Austen's later work is so much better known and loved, say this book's critics -- and that's because those books are simply better, according to any criteria you wish to name, the result of an older and wiser woman with not only better writing skills but a much more complex outlook on the world. Although there's not much debate anymore over whether this is a historically important and well-done story, many critics argue that Northanger Abbey simply doesn't rise to the level of "classic," as is the similar case with so many other first novels by authors who eventually become famous.
My verdict: Okay, I admit it; after years of making fun of people for their obsessive Austen fandom, now that I've finally read my first novel of hers myself, I have to confess that I'm awfully impressed, and can easily see why people still go so crazy for her work in the first place. Because I gotta tell you, it's positively freaky how much like a modern 17-year-old girl in the early 2000s that Catherine actually sounds like here, of just how many of the details Austen chose to focus on turn out to be universal observations about teenage female personas in general, and not simply observations about that particular age's popular culture and societal norms. I love, for example, how Catherine simply accepts in this quiet way the realization of how much more important it is in the eyes of men to appear smart in public than in the eyes of women; how gold-digging for a husband is simply wrong no matter what the circumstances; that you understand a lot more about a person when observing them in a bad mood than a good one. I love that Catherine automatically assumes the craziest explanation for any situations that occur in her life, because she's a bored teen and this is what bored teens do to entertain themselves. I love how she is constantly worrying about saying the wrong thing in front of others; how she is constantly running off in embarrassment over various impolitic confessions blurted out during enjoyable conversations; how the people older than her accept all this from her with a charmed sense of bemusement, while her fellow teenage girls react with catty bitchiness. I love how their entire social circles revolve around these tiny, barely perceptible actions, stuff completely inconsequential to grown-ups but so important to the young; how entire romantic relationships can be started simply by two people glancing at each other across a room for a little too long, entire friendships destroyed simply because of not sitting at a certain table during a public meal. Sheesh, if that's not a teenage girl's life in a nutshell, I don't know what is.
In fact, I'll go so far as to say this; that at least here in Northanger Abbey, Austen turns out to be a much smarter, much more bitter author than I was expecting, given that her most diehard fans concentrate so much on the historical-finery and antiquated-courtship elements of it all. And indeed, if I wanted to be really controversial, I'd argue that if Austen were alive and writing in our modern times, she wouldn't write about relationships at all, but was instead forced to during her own times because of this being the only stuff female authors could get published back then. I mean, don't get me wrong, this book contains an unbelievable amount of the same tropes as so-called modern "chick-lit," which is why so many people call her the forerunner of the genre*; but if you pay attention, you'll see that Catherine herself is really not that interested in the subject at all, other than to the extent that it's expected of her by the rest of society, and indeed you could argue that Austen's bigger point here is to examine the growing dark maturity and evermore complex understanding of the world that all young women go through, and the sometimes ugly experiences that must occur for this to happen. It's for all these reasons that I confidently label Northanger Abbey today a classic, a surprisingly still-relevant tale that even to this day is almost impossible not to be thoroughly charmed by.
Is it a classic? Yes
*And speaking of chick-lit, no review of Northanger Abbey is complete without an acknowledgment of its absolutely most delightful aspect, an examination of what at the time was the first-ever rise in popularity of the "novel" format, especially as it manifested itself in the form of trashy supernatural romantic thrillers designed specifically for middle-class women. Let's not forget, before the late 1700s, full-length fictional stories barely even existed; when people sat down to read a book back then, it was mostly essays or poems or plays they were picking up, with full-length made-up narrative stories treated by the intelligentsia with the same disdain we currently treat, say, first-person-shooter videogames. It was during this same period, though, that women suddenly became literate in the millions for the first time in history; and these women all needed something to read, which is what led to the rise of "gothic" literature in the first place, a combination of supernatural thriller and over-the-top romance that was generally perceived at the time as "silly woman stuff." This novel is just as enjoyable and important for its examination of all these issues as it is for the usual Austenesque stuff; and this is yet another reason to call Austen a forerunner of modern so-called chick-lit, in that all these issues are still being debated in the publishing industry to this day.
The Jane Austen binge continues. I must admit that I hit a wall with this one. Sense and Sensibility moved along so merrily and with great suspense, while Northanger Abbey had a few moments where I thought, "Oh gosh, do I really have to pick this book up again?"
After I finished the novel I started doing more research including reading the introduction by crime writer Val McDermid (I make it a policy never to read introductions as I they often include spoilers), and realized that this was the first novel Austen wrote.
From that lens it all makes sense. The novel has the feeling of being with someone who is trying on various outfits. Austen plays around with the gothic and supernatural, a la Women in White or Frankenstein, with varying degrees of success. Yet her sparkling Austen wit is simmering beneath the surface. This makes for a tone that is a bit uneven: mysterious characters, romantic comedy scenes, moral digression.
You also see the origins of Austen's house fixation (she really likes nice houses); Her overwrought and romanticized description of Northanger Abbey was one of the sections of the book where I needed a breather. There is also a really interesting moral condemnation of romanticism, which I think was Austen's illustration of her female protagonist evolving from a girl to woman. It's a transition that she handles as a first-time novelist, successfully in many areas, but also a bit heavy-handed in others.
However, it's all good work, because you see the foundations of her later beloved characters in these experiments. Isabella, the annoying female who is slippery and selfish speaks more in monologues than Austen's later works has so much meat to her and reincarnates into many of Austen's beloved later characters. Her sketch of the rake is suitable annoying but still a bit unrefined. And as for Mr. Tilney, the love interest, the tension is not quite there, but you have all her other books to look forward to.
I understand this novel is a satire. I also understand that this book was published posthumously and so right now, Jane Austin may very well be rolling in her grave saying "Oh God, I can't believe they published Northanger Abbey." I understand I am one of very few people who feel this way. However, I do feel this way.
You can't just write a book about incredibly irritating characters who are flustered by very trivial situations and then say "oh no, but it's a satire about books that have incredibly irritating characters who are flustered by very trivial situations."
That's fantastic. But satire or no, I am still reading a book about incredibly irritating characters who are flustered by very trivial situations! It's similar to people liking things ironically. The irony is irrelevant. You still like the thing.
Look, it didn't escape me. I saw the satire. I particularly enjoyed Mrs. Allen and Isabella. I didn't even mind Catherine. She was quite sweet, really. But for me it was just all a little tedious. And I imagined Henry to be eons older than Catherine. He treated her like a little sister more than anything, but maybe that's what flirting was like in 1817.
However, I'm incredibly excited to read Pride and Prejudice again. I wrote a nasty one star review when I was about 17 and I've been waiting almost ten years to revisit it. I have an idea that Northanger Abbey is actually much worse than P&P and so if I've given this two stars I might even give P&P three! How very thrilling.
Everyone seems to leave poor Northanger Abbey to read last out of all of Austen’s novels. Why is this? For me, I still have Emma to go – I really don’t like the sound of Emma as a character (and yes I have been a little influenced by the movie and mini series adaptations).
Perhaps it is because being the first full length novel of Austen’s, Northanger is the least developed or mature example of her writing – I think she peaked with Persuasion, and certainly Sense and Sensibility, with Pride and Prejudice being the most popular overall simply for being a brilliant romance if nothing else.
Northanger is a much simpler story, and to be honest the beginning and even the middle seems to drag quite a bit – so many promenades and carriage rides and insipid gossip and worrying about what the neighbours will think…It really picks up speed and sparks interest in the last third, once Catherine is finally installed at the Abbey.
What I do think is underrated about this novel is Mr Tilney as our male hero. For once he is likeable and reliable from the outset. He may not be dark and brooding like Darcy or adventurous and scorned like Wentworth, but he is admirably honest, intelligent, rational and most importantly just downright pleasant. What Catherine enjoys most is his simple company and good conversation. Do we always need the melodrama, the hot and heavy over the top interludes accompanied by tears and tantrums and general emotional turmoil?
This is actually one of the few examples of where rather than the love interest between the two main characters causing all the heartache, it is the love interest between minor characters (Isabelle and James and then Captain Tilney) and the despair women inflict upon women (Catherine’s disappointment in Isabelle’s true character) that is the main focus. This is quite interesting, because in reality, it is often women who are women’s worst enemy, not men!
With only one Austen to go (Emma), it’s a little disheartening to know that the discovery of Austen is coming to an end and that while rereading is immensely pleasurable and nostalgic, nothing compares to the virgin reading of a really great book. Then again, can we ever have too much of Captain Wentworth or Mr Darcy (my two favourites) or even the naughty Henry Crawford? These are surely men who have aged well!
Northanger Abbey is so underrated. The heroine of this book is into sports and shenanigans growing up and doesn't learn anything in school and have any accomplishments or interests until she has a growth spurt, gets hot, reads so many gothic novels that she almost ruins her relationship with her love interest because she convinces herself his house is haunted and does an inappropriate ghost hunt.
She is the queen 👑 but let's be real every Jane Austen heroine is a queen and every Jane Austen hero is destined to end up in my "i-love-him" shelf. I have said it time and again that Jane Austen is one of, if not the best, author out there.
“Northanger Abbey” is, in part, a satire of Gothic novels. Catherine Morland, our protagonist, has yet to establish a clear dividing line between the imagined world and the real. Catherine isn’t actually delusional; she doesn’t go tilting at windmills. But because she sees the world through the prism of Gothic novels, her understanding is often wildly off the mark.
The action begins in the hothouse atmosphere of Bath. Encouraged by her new friend, the shallow Isabella Thorpe, Catherine consumes Gothic novels with much more eagerness than she takes the waters. She finds better friends in the Tilneys: lovely Eleanor and her brother, Henry, a charming young clergyman. Their father, the General, is a dour widower. Invited to their family home, the abbey of the novel’s title, Catherine finds herself surrounded by the familiar elements of Gothic romance — a rambling building, forbidden rooms, secret compartments, hidden portraits — and conjures a mystery from them. She imagines that the circumstances of Mrs. Tilney’s death must have been as gothic as her surroundings. But of course it turns out she was wrong and she risks losing Henry's affection. Mortified by her error, she realizes that she must learn to distinguish between shades of gray. She must, in short, grow up.
Dear Jane Austen, how just how did you come up with this? And as for Mr. Henry Tilney (and Mr. Darcy):
woman man. No really why must you do this to me? Catherine confesses to Mr. Tilney and he shoots her down saying "I love you" where just where do i find such a man?
And Catherine is such a good person down to her core it made me cry and it made me feel bad for you know ... being bad.
Oh and Henry Tilney gahhhhhhhhhhh lkgfjgufgiohljhgdfhg hearts hearts everywhere he is so nice. It's men like this guy that make me question why i even bother rooting for the villain.
Just know that this woman can do no wrong. There's a reason behind the fact that I, one of the most cynical people in the world, who hates nearly everything, who pokes fun at others favorites, has Jane Austen on the top of her favorite authors list. And what is the reason? Austen introduces me to ... myself in her books - and i am pretty well dressed. She reminds us everyone is flawed—even our beloved heroines—but they, and we, can change....
Catherine Morland is the very antithesis of the expected heroine. And yet, in this fun, Gothic parody, Austen makes her just that!
Catherine has a preoccupation with the female Gothic genre that influences how she views the world around her. There is much to unpack and explore, in the characters of her new Bath acquaintances, and an opportunity to do so is soon provided, when she is invited to journey to the Abbey home of her new friends, the Tilneys. But will Mrs Radcliffe let her stay there be as restful and joyous as she is anticipating...
This felt very much like a novel of two halves, with the former dominated by a depiction of fashionable life in bath, complete with an understanding garnered of the correct etiquette and conduct of the young people of that day and place in society. The latter portion was set within the walls of the Abbey and it was here that the Gothic elements begun to reveal themselves.
This novel was just pure, tongue-in-cheek, escapist fun! It retained such a light-hearted tone throughout and provided a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience throughout, which was exactly what I desired during these trying times.
What would be considered a romantic Rom Com in today’s Reading world, Northanger Abbey is more a fanciful, whimsical read that really didn't do anything for me. I am more a fan of the Bronte sisters as feel their novels are more intense and atmospheric whereas Austen tends to be more lighthearted and romantic in my opinion.
I came across this on Audible Original narrated by Emma Thompson and stuck for something to listen to on a car journey I figured I would give it a try. Unfortunately this was in performance style and was like listening to a play which doesn’t work for me, however I stuck with it to the end as it wasn't the worst book I ever listened to but this may have been down to Emma Thomson’s performance as on of the narrator.
A coming of age story about 17 year old Catherine Moreland who on a trip to Bath meets and falls in love with Henry Tilley a handson young clergyman. . I understand that this was one of her first novels and she may not have intended on having it published. It’s a satire of the popular gothic fiction of Austen’s day.
Another Classic crossed off my TBR list but not a book for my favourites shelf.
I really really REALLY enjoyed this. I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. The only thing that was a bit of a challenge for me was the writing style. It was hard for me to get used to it. What helped me was reading it along with an audio book. It really helped me stay on track with the story.
I don't know about all of you all, but I keep work in progress reviews on my computer, saved in word documents. I recently went through my file, feeling a bit of nostalgia looking through some of the ones I never finished (some for very good reasons as they were dreadful and shall never see the light of day again). I then stumbled upon my review for this book. Unlike the others it was completely finished (although it had a few errors that I've since corrected). Reading it I remembered why I never posted it and decided that it needed to be corrected ASAP.
As you can see above, I gave the novel 1 star and clearly did not like it. My opinion has not changed and indeed looking at it I smiled as I still agree completely with Tim from 2017. Why didn't I post it? Well, I've mentioned in a few of my reviews that I struggle with depression and anxiety. 2017 was an extremely bad year for it. I clearly remember thinking at the time that I couldn't post it because "It's Jane Austen. You can't dislike Jane Austen novels. You're not allowed to not like them. If you dislike it, people will hate you. Don't do this."
Yes, it was a very bad time for Tim's brain.
Well, fortunately the Tim of today is at least slightly more well adjusted (not much mind you…) and I frankly I liked this one. Guess I'll just post it now before my brain kicks into panic mode again. ______________
Northanger Abbey is Austen's parody of the gothic… at least it is for maybe the first twenty pages and the last twenty, other than that it's a below standard romantic comedy. Don't be fooled by the gothic name drops and intriguing start; this is your standard fill-in-the-blanks framework filled with misunderstandings, parental disapproval and "oh dear me I made a mistake that was so bloody stupid that everyone had to know where this was going, but I need sympathy because I'm the lead and because this is a Jane Austin novel I must be endearing." Seriously, this is one of the most annoying main characters I've ever read. I'm frequently willing to suspend disbelief but the stupidity of her actions made me question how I'm supposed to identify or even tolerate her.
As I mentioned it's known for the gothic parody parts, and some of them are amusing (though frustrating because of our lead's annoying actions). She honestly comes off like a parent's worst fears, just substitute gothic novels for video games and a "oh dear, our child has been brainwashed by the media and will act on it." Well, that's silly. Even children understand the difference between reality and fiction and… oh nevermind, there she goes looking for proof of the sinister. Obviously not genre savvy or you would know this is the wrong sort of book to find a madwoman in the attic.
Had the book contained more gothic elements rather than starting with them, forgetting about them for almost two hundred pages before running back to them like you didn't make a narrative mistake, it would have possibly been more entertaining. Instead it feels like it a bad mishmash that has no clue what it wants to be.
I would now like to clarify that somewhere in the flinty pits of my petrified heart I wanted to like this book. I think that's why this review is so actively angry. I majored in English, I wrote several pages on the Gothics and frankly a parody of them by such a well loved author sounded amazing. Yes, I went into it expecting something that it wasn't… usually I'd say that's on me… but this time it really does feel like the only reason this book is remembered (other than because of who the author is) is because of the gothic parody aspect. That's all that's mentioned… and there's just not much of this. If you go into it expecting a parody, you'll likely be disappointed (as I very much am). If you're going in expecting a standard Jane Austen novel (on what had to be an off period of writing for her) perhaps you'll like it. I sure as hell did not. 1/5 stars
There you go past Tim! It's posted! Feel relived... ... ... ... Please don't hate me.
Northanger Abbey wasn't a casual pick for me, but a much-awaited pick for the first-written novel of Jane Austen from my most-admired Regency Era. Naivety, lies, ignorance, innocence, parental tyranny, filial disobedience, all intricately and cleanly knitted into and around "Northanger Abbey".
For me the ignorance and innocence of our naïve and pretty heroine Catherine, speaks aloud about our then young Jane Austen. Usually, the first-ever novels of writers speaks volumes about their own persona.
Be it Isabelle's vivacity and proclivity towards lies, or the self-conceit of Mr. Tilney to the delicate-woven love between Catherine and Henry, it is a perfect gothic yet-not-so gothic but sheer-love mystery.
I patiently waited to know more about Henry and his pursuits, but Jane Austen dabbled more into introducing Catherine into the gothic setup of our favorite Northanger Abbey. NB- I was highly moved with the short yet warm role of Mrs. and Mr. Morland which balanced the parental tyranny of the plot with parental freedom and affection.
Northanger Abbey tells the tale of Catherine Morland who leaves her sheltered, rural life for a few weeks to visit the busy, sophisticated world of Bath.
I thought this book ended a little quickly.
I would like to have known what happened to Isabella and James Morland, Catherine's brother. I was intrigued by Isabella and wanted to learn what her true intentions were, but the ending left me hanging.
The book also shows how you shouldn't take how characters behave in books as the sole basis for how people behave and act in real life. I'm referring to the behaviour of one of the characters in this book and not to readers of this book.
This is one of the lesser regarded Austens. It has nowhere near the fan club that the Holy Trinity of Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Sense and Sensibility) has. It's one of her first books and it's true, the prose and development of characters is not as mature. The book is more of a homage/satire of Gothic lit, mixed with the comedy of manners style that she would be famous for later.
But I LOVE this book. Seriously, this book is so wonderful. The voice on this book. In later books, Jane Austen tempered her personal voice to become more moderate, fading behind the prose and the characters. She does not do that here. The narrator's voice is the best character in the book. It's bright, witty, and vicious, vicious, vicious. She will cheerfully embroil her ridiculous main character in ridiculous situations, and proceed to torture her. That's the majority of the book, making fun of Gothic novels that were popular at the time, as well as silly silly teenage girls. It's hard not to recognize yourself at some age in the main character. But it's viciousness with love. It's actually kind of trippy, all the things she convinces herself of, all the visions and fantasies she's capable of. It would make a great post-modernist movie.
This main character is adorable, if inconsequential and silly. The hero has his witty moments, and I rather enjoyed him. There are a lot of lessons on love here that are less idealistic than her other novels. Much less of a grand passion, much more practical. But I kind of love that. These characters get together on a very unequal basis, but one you see happen all the time in life. They complete each other, however differently that might be.
I am actually grinning as I write this review of it, remembering how much I loved it.
لا يمكنني أن ابدأ المراجعة دون أن أعترف بحبي وتحيزى لعزيزتى جين أوستن . فلقد اعربت من قبل عن حبي لها وعن إعجابي برواياتها وببساطة اسلوبها لكن حتى الآن ستظل كبرياء وهوى هى روايتى المفضلة لها . لكن هذا لا يقلل من شأن باقي رواياتها ولا من جمال هذه الرواية التى سعدت بإضافتها مؤخرا الى مكتبتى فور معرفتي بتوفر ترجمتها فكانت من الروايات التي حرصت على شرائها في المعرض ٢٠٢٢ .
رواية عشت معها ومع شخصياتها كما عشت مع باقي شخصيات روايات جين اوستن. اعجبنى دفاعها على لسان شخصياتها عن الروايات وعن أهميتها.مثل النقاش الذي دار بين كاثرين وهنري - لكنك لا تقرأ الروايات ابدأ، على ما أعتقد ؟ - لم لا ؟ - لأنها ليست ذكية بما يكفي بالنسبة إليك، إن الرجال يقرءون نوعية أفضل من الكتب. -لابد وأن يكون الشخص الذي لا يستمتع برواية جيدة، سواء كان رجلا أو امرأة، غبياً بشكل لا يُطاق."
" على الرغم من ان اعمالنا وفرت متعة أشمل واصدق من تلك التي توفرها أى جماعات أدبية أخرى في العالم، إلا أن أى شكل أدبي آخر لم يلق الاستنكار بالقدر ذاته. يكاد عدد أعدائنا يداني عدد قرائنا ، إما بدافع من التكبر أو الجهل أو مسايرة الصيحات الرائجة "
نتعرف على كاثرين مولاند في لمحات صغيرة وسريعة من طفولتها حتى بلوغها السابعة عشر من عمرها دون ان تمر بمغامرات ذات بال او تلتقي شابا يمكنه ان يثير مشاعرها او تثير إعجاب أحد . وتمر حياتها حتى ذلك الحين مع أسرتها في هدوء حتى تتاح لها فرصة السفر إلى باث بصحبة السيد والسيدة ألين . وتصحبها السيدة ألين إلى الحفلات ومضخات المياة المعدنية، وفي احدى الحفلات تلتقي كاثرين بهنري تيلني لينشأ بينهما إعجاب . ثم يختفي عنها لفترة .
وفي هذه الاثناء تلتقي هناك السيدة ألين بصديقة قديمة لها هى السيدة ثورب وتتعرف على ابنائها ليتصادف أن تكون العائلة على معرفة بأخيها جيمز وتنشأ علاقة صداقة بين كاثرين وايزابيل وهى الابنة الكبرى . ليذهبا في نزهات سويا ويحضران حفلات الرقص يصاحبهم جيمز مولاند و جون ثورب اخو ايزابيل ويقضوا كثير من الاوقات سويا .
ثم تعود كاثرين للقاء بالسيد تيلني وأخته إليانور ويحدث تقارب بينهم . وتدعوها إليانور لزيارتهم في منزلهم بدير نورثانجر . وكانت كاثرين شغوفة بالمباني القديمة والقلاع والاديرة فأثارت هذه الدعوة حماستها .
وبسبب حبها للروايات والاجواء الغامضة التى تحيط بالقصور والأماكن القديمة . كان لديها رغبة في استكشاف كل مكان ولديها فضول لمعرفة كل شئ، ولأنها كانت صاحبة خيال عالى صور لها عقلها الكثير من الأشياء وجعلها في رغبة شديدة لاستكشاف الكثير من الاماكن حتى لو لم يكن مصرح لها بذلك والبحث ورائها . واساءت الظن ببعض الشخصيات وبعض التصورات وهيئ لها خيالها كثير من سوء الظن . " هل يمكن نسيان سخافة فضولها ومخاوفها على الإطلاق "
فمالذى حدث بين كاثرين وايزابيل وهل ستستمر صداقتهم ؟ وماهى الأحداث التى حدثت أثناء تواجدها في باث ؟ وكيف تطورت العلاقة بين كاثرين وآل تيلني ليعرضوا عليها الذهاب معهم ؟ وماذا حدث في دير نورثانجر ؟ وماذا حدث مع كاثرين ؟ وماهى ظنونها ! وماهى الاكتشافات والاشياء التى وجدتها وعرفتها هناك؟ وكيف كانت علاقة كاثرين بأصدقائها هناك؟ ومامصير قصص الحب والإعجاب التي نشأت خلال الرواية ؟؟
رواية خفيفة ولطيفة كعادة جين أوستن استمتعت بصحبتها كالعادة .كما انها أول رواية مكتملة لها رغم انها لم تنشر إلا بعد وفاتها . ومن الطبيعى ان لا تكون الرواية الاولى بقوة باقي رواياتها بعد ذلك لكن ذلك لا يمنع ان الرواية بسيطة وجميلة وهادئة . وهذا ماكنت احتاجه في هذا التوقيت .