Monday, May 16, 2011

Northanger Abbey

The first of Austen's novels to be sold, though not published until 1817, after the death of the Authoress. It is a very witty satire on the Gothic novels which were so popular of her time.

It is the coming of age story of Catherine Morland who at the young age of 17 is given the chance to visit Bath with her family's friends the Allen's. Catherine has nothing of the heroine about her. She comes from an averages family, has average intelligence and is "nearly pretty." Little does she suspect the friends she will make in Bath, both charming and duplicitous. With her head filled with the stories of Mrs. Radcliffe she secures an invitation to visit Northanger Abbey with her friends the Tilney's. Her Gothic notions almost lead to her doom but she is saved by good sense of friends.

I read this book for a class I am taking and fell in love with the writing. As this is her first novel, Austen had not quite yet found her narrative style but it is still peppered with all of the wit and humor that can be found in her works. A thing that I did really like about the narrator was how she spoke directly to the audience at times and in turn became almost a character in and of itself.

Catherine, too, is a heroine I was deeply enchanted by. She is average and extremely naive. Her naiveté is nearly her undoing on several accounts and yet we see her grow and learn how to read people.

This is fairly short for an Austen novel and I recommend it for anyone who is interested in the genre and wanting to have a good laugh.

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