Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

For the first fifteen years of her life, Catherine is nothing very special...  She isn't pretty or highly accepted by society.  But when she grows older, her parents finally see hope in Catherine's future, and let her go to Bath with their family friends the Allens.  While there, Catherine reads a great deal of romantic, adventurous, and horrific novels, and discusses them with her new-found friend, Isabella Thorpe.  When she meets Henry Tilney, Catherine quickly falls in love with him.  And when he and his sister ask Catherine to visit their home, Northanger Abbey, Catherine's fantasies (because of the novels she reads) quickly alarm her.  What is really going on behind the Abbey walls?


That synopsis is not what this book is about.  I had to write something, but this is not a correct representation of the book.  It's what you'll read all over the place when you inquire about Northanger Abbey's contents.  Unfortunately, it's not the whole truth.  Yes, the book contains some of this.  Catherine does go to Bath with the Allens, she does fall in love with Henry, and she does begin to question the happenings of the Abbey and the Tilney family.  But would you like to know about how much of the book this takes up?  Maybe half.  And the mystery itself is only a quarter of the story.

I'm so disappointed.  I was expecting, by the description on the back of my Barnes and Noble copy (and everything else I'd read about it), that this would be a gothic novel full of mysteries and enchanting (or not so enchanting) secrets.  Not so.  The first "Volume" was consisted of their time in Bath, Catherine and Isabella's friendship, and possible suitors (other than Henry) for both of them.  Henry is introduced but not much happens between him and Catherine until a bit later.

Catherine, Henry, and Isabella were developed well, as were Mr. Thorpe, Isabella's brother, and Eleanor Tilney, Henry's sister.  Catherine and Henry were absolutely adorable together, honestly.  I could totally picture them together.  I guess character development is not the issue here.  Execution of story and too much fluff are, however.  There was so much that happened in the book that I totally could have skipped over and I still would have understood the story perfectly.  I honestly didn't feel that there was much point to this book, except to lengthen the time in which Catherine and Henry fall in love.

Favorite character:  Henry, definitely.

Favorite aspect:  Henry's interactions with everyone he knew, especially his sister and Catherine.  I also liked his brother's part in the story, but I won't spoil that for you if you want to read it.

Summed up with one word: pointless...  Sorry, all you Northanger Abbey fans.  It just didn't do it for me. :/


  1. I am so sorry you got misled by the synopsis! Austen wasn't writing a Gothic novel; she was writing a send-up of Gothic novels. You wouldn't necessarily have liked it if you'd had the right expectations--it is the lightest and fluffiest of her finished novels--but at least you'd have had a better chance, or else the ability to make the informed choice not to bother reading it.

    Having read a few late Georgian/early Regency Gothics, I enjoyed it. :)

  2. Aw, I'm so sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this! I was surprised at how much time was spent in the beginning following Catherine around Bath. That part was very much "Jane Austen" and I can see why it would be frustrating for you going into it expecting a full on Gothic book.

  3. Ugh...well, it definitely makes sense when you think of it like that... Hmmm...I wonder how much more I would have enjoyed it if I had seen it like this before. Thanks for the input ladies! I'll definitely try to read it again sometime in the future and see if it's easier to get through...

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