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Northanger Abbey Paperback – Apr 29 2003
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Though Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's earliest novels, it was not published until after her death--well after she'd established her reputation with works such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. Of all her novels, this one is the most explicitly literary in that it is primarily concerned with books and with readers. In it, Austen skewers the novelistic excesses of her day made popular in such 18th-century Gothic potboilers as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers all figure into Northanger Abbey, but with a decidedly satirical twist. Consider Austen's introduction of her heroine: we are told on the very first page that "no one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine." The author goes on to explain that Miss Morland's father is a clergyman with "a considerable independence, besides two good livings--and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters." Furthermore, her mother does not die giving birth to her, and Catherine herself, far from engaging in "the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush" vastly prefers playing cricket with her brothers to any girlish pastimes.
Catherine grows up to be a passably pretty girl and is invited to spend a few weeks in Bath with a family friend. While there she meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, who invite her to visit their family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Austen amuses herself and us as Catherine, a great reader of Gothic romances, allows her imagination to run wild, finding dreadful portents in the most wonderfully prosaic events. But Austen is after something more than mere parody; she uses her rapier wit to mock not only the essential silliness of "horrid" novels, but to expose the even more horrid workings of polite society, for nothing Catherine imagines could possibly rival the hypocrisy she experiences at the hands of her supposed friends. In many respects Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen's novels, yet at its core is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage, 19th-century British style. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
A resurgence of interest in Austen, combined with a vivacious reading by British actress Amanda Root, makes this a timely audio selection. Usually considered Austen's earliest completed novel, this posthumously published work is a delightful parody of gothic novels. Heroine Catherine Moreland is introduced to the social whirl of Bath by a new friend, Isabella Thorpe. Alas, Catherine is disappointed by this disloyal lass and departs to spend time at the ancestral home of her true friend, Eleanor Tilney, and Eleanor's charming brother Henry. Meanwhile, Isabella's brother John, whose romantic overtures have been rejected by Catherine, is almost successful in his schemes to cause the Tilneys to reject our heroine. An excellent acquisition for public libraries.
Linda Bredengerd, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Of all her heroines, I find that Jane Austen draws more of her own family situation to depict Catherine that she actually did for the others: daughter of a clergyman, numerous family, tight family relationships... As it was her first novel, I also find it to be the weakest of her work, as you can almost feel the author questioning herself as to what makes a great novel: what subjects, what character traits, what heroine or gentleman? The story in itself is also pretty simple as it is imitates a little bit the structure of Vaudeville theater, with the misunderstandings regarding Catherine’s financial status, her acquaintance with John Thorpe or her brother’s engagement to Isabella. The author also pays tribute to her admiration for Ann Radcliffe by making one of her novels Catherine’s favorite books and putting a little Gothic spin to the story when it comes to the description of Northanger Abbey. All in all, this first novel remains a well-plotted hodgepodge as well as an entertaining light story.
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The story begins with Catherine joining a friend of the family, Mrs. Allen, for a vacation at her home in Bath. Her days are filled with socializing, taking walks and especially spending time at the 'Pump- room', where she meets the rather hard-edged Henry Tilney. Catherine's simple, yet direct and opinionated responses and approaches in conversation lead her to distancing Henry for a while.
Realizing that she has feelings for him, Catherine begins to wish she could see Henry again and does everything possible for that to happen. Meanwhile she befriends Isabella Thorpe who shares her passion for books and poetry. As the two become inseparable, Catherine feels close enough to Isabella to tell her all about her feelings for Henry Tilney'
In fulfilling her dreams of being with Henry, Catherine's journey evolves through a fiasco of events revealing true personalities, feelings and deceptions. Other important characters that help bring this about involve John Thorpe, Isabella's brother, who is full of mischief and schemes. As well, Catherine's brother James, is one who has a love-story of his own to mourn over as his sister begins to put all pieces of the puzzle together. Just to add to life's intricacies, Henry and Catherine become at odds about a dilemma, caused mainly by Catherine's imagination. The couple's difficulties do not stop there as problems get compounded by family misunderstandings.
Confusion of events? You bet.Read more ›
"Northanger Abbey" is a good first novel but it is by no means Jane Austen's best, and Catherine is not as interesting a heroine as Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Watson or Elinor Dashwood; she's a somewhat shallow, undeveloped young lady who lacks their depth and their intelligence. But she's a likeable heroine; unlike Fanny Price, Catherine doesn't try to be perfect nor judge others for failing to be so, and unlike Emma Watson, she's not meddling in everyone else's business.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Miss Austin must be in violent rotation in her grave.
Her heroin has become an American speaking nitwit. Read more
To put things in perspective, I would happily give Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, or Emma a 5 of 5.
This book is not in the same class. Read more
I really liked this book. I found it too short and quick to end. But overall I enjoy all of Austen's books. I would have loved if this was drawn out a little longer though. Read morePublished 7 months ago by kat kazakoff
Well I haven't read the book completely yet, however I just want to comment on the "Contains Real Page Numbers." It does not reveal the page numbers on Kindle (PC Version). Read morePublished 12 months ago by Clarence Kwok
A parody of the Gothic tradition, Northanger Abbey is, in my opinion, Austen's worst novel: the heroine is insipid, and what happens to her seems contrived and overdone. Read morePublished on March 12 2012 by Millerfan
This wasn,t my type of book. Maybe I might like this book the second time I read it.Published on Nov. 17 2009 by Gladys E. Webel
I'm surprised at some of the negative reviews on here saying the book is boring, the dialogue annoying, and the plot lacking. I'd say they've missed the point of this book. Read morePublished on June 12 2008 by Robyn L.
I have recently wanted to read Jane Austen again for some time. I had previously read two of her other novels (Pride and Prejudice and Emma) but that was a very long time ago. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2007 by Nicola Mansfield