Fiction/Classic, written 1798-99, published posthumously in 1817
Feedbooks ebook (read on iPhone), 256 p.
Jane Austen’s first novel, Northanger Abbey – published posthumously in 1817 – tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen’s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. [Modern Library Classics]I read this on my new iPhone and it was a truly wonderful way to pass the time while stuck in trains commuting. This was actually a re-read for me as I first read Northanger Abbey, along with all of her other novels, during my Austen phase in my teens, but I hadn’t read it since, and had never seen any adaptation of it to refresh my memory, so I had largely forgotten the storyline. This was quite nice though, as it was almost like reading it again for the first time. And what fun it was! I loved spending time in Bath (I really regret that we never got a chance to visit while we were in England), and getting to know the characters with all their foibles. For the love story, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion are still my favourites but Mr Henry Tilney is definitely one of my favourite of Austen’s leading men. However for a bibliophile, some of the most enjoyable parts of the story are when the characters talk about their love of reading, and Jane Austen’s ‘Defense of the Novel’.
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 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 wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the perfomances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.Her writing is always witty and clever, but Austen outdoes herself in Northanger Abbey. The satirical element is distinctly amusing, yet playful, never condescending. I chuckled several times while reading, as she poked fun at the gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe and others. I read The Mysteries of Udolpho back during my Austen phase as well, and like with Northanger Abbey, I have forgotten many of the details. Reading Northanger Abbey has definitely made me want to read Udolpho again though, and some of the other classic gothic novels that I haven’t read yet.
“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. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; 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. (From chapter 5)
Catherine to Isabella on reading The Mysteries of Udolpho:
“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.” (From chapter 6)
Catherine to Henry:
“But you never read novels, I dare say?”
“Because they are not clever enough for you – gentlemen read better books.”
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days – my hair standing on end the whole time.” (From chapter 14)
I got the recent ITV adaptation of Northanger Abbey on DVD earlier this year, so after finishing the book, I finally watched it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the visualization of her dreams and gothic fantasies worked really well, and that the actors did a great job, especially for the characters of Catherine and Henry. Plus it stayed reasonably close to the original, and most importantly remained true to the mood of the book. My only real complaint is that I wish it were longer. I’ll definitely be watching it again.
Read Northanger Abbey online (courtesy of Project Gutenberg)
Subscribe to Northanger Abbey (via DailyLit)
Listen to Northanger Abbey (courtesy of LibriVox)
Buy this book at: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | BookDepository.co.uk | BookDepository.com
My Rating: 4/5
(#58 for 2009, Everything Austen Challenge)
Also reviewed by:
things mean a lot
Melody's Reading Corner
Trish's Reading Nook
Life and Time of a "New" New-Yorker
Reading Upside Down
You Can Never Have Too Many Books
The Book Book
English Major's Junk Food
A Striped Armchair (the TV adaptation)
If I've missed yours, let me know and I'll link to it here.
The small print: I downloaded this book for free online. I purchased the DVD for my personal collection. Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover) or The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively. Purchases made via these links earn me a small commission. For more information visit my About Page.