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Northanger Abbey [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Jane Austen , Juliet Stevenson , Nicolas Soames
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1996 9626340762 978-9626340769 abridged edition
Northanger Abbey is the earliest of Jane Austen's great comedies of female enlightenment and combines literary burlesque - making fun of the excesses of the Gothic novel - with larger moral, philosophical, and social issues: the folly of letting literature get in the way of life, the inexcusability of not thinking for oneself, and the painful difficulties (especially for women) involved in growing up. Lady Susan and The Watsons are early compositions that reflect many of the qualities of Northanger Abbey. The first is an epistolary novel centring on the intrigues of the villainous Lady Susan; the second is an unfinished example of Jane Austen's most characteristic form - a story where the heroine is outstanding for her sense and goodness, virtues notably lacking in the other characters, who are here part of an altogether bleaker vision. Sanditon, too, is tragically incomplete, and it signals the achievement of a new depth and breadth of comic insight on the part of its author.

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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

Austen is the hot property of the entertainment world with new feature film versions of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility on the silver screen and Pride and Prejudice hitting the TV airwaves on PBS. Such high visibility will inevitably draw renewed interest in the original source materials. These new Modern Library editions offer quality hardcovers at affordable prices.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To read apart from the others! June 30 2013
By Ladybug TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Even though, this novel was the last to be published, this is actually the first complete novel that Jane Austen ever wrote. Here she depicts the life of Catherine Morland, the daughter of a clergyman and who comes from a large family, who is neither immensely rich nor highly intelligent and her stay in Bath with some family friends, where she encounters love in the person of Henry Tilney. But although his father seems at first to approve the match, a misunderstanding comes to change his mind, misunderstanding that must be clarified in order for Catherine to achieve marital bliss.

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining! Oct. 20 2009
The heroine in this novel is Catherine Morland, who is just an average girl with straightforward manners and not an ounce of pretension; yet, she has an outrageously vivid imagination. This is cleverly and Austen-intended, I believe, to purposely deviate from the conventional heroines of the times.

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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 8 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i LOVE JANE Austens books
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2.0 out of 5 stars Least Favorite June 19 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To start off; I'm a HUGE Jane Austen fan. But this book, written before the turn of the 19th century is Jane at her very worst, probably because it was one of her first. The heroine...if I want to call her a typically silly 17 year old girl, who is much too fanciful for my rather elderly tastes. I was very impatient with her and couldn't wait to finish this mercifully short book. I felt like smacking Catherine Morland upside the head and telling her to grow up. But then, to put it in context of more than two hundred years; things were different then and there was not the knowledge or sophistication of our present day. I still do, however, love the flow of language and the now lost attitudes of those times.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading March 12 2012
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. And yet Austen's talent is still apparent here, for the language still sparkles with wit and with the occasional gem of observation. I read it so that I could say that I'd read all of Austen's novels, and I'm glad I did. I'll reread it in the years to come.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, Excellent Story June 12 2008
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. It does have a good plot, but it's more realistic than the usual story. Yes, it may be more commonplace, but I found it refreshing. The story focuses on conversation and people and Catherine, which I enjoyed because it was so skillfully done. The characters rang so true, Henry Tilney made me laugh out loud, Catherine was sweet and funny and the ending was wonderful. I loved this book! It's my second favourite Austen book next to Emma.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Northanger Abbey (book)
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating
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 more
Published on Oct. 22 2007 by Nicola Mansfield
2.0 out of 5 stars just not good
Many of the references Austen made in Northanger Abbey were meant to be satirical towards the gothic writing style prevalent in her time. Read more
Published on April 10 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A clever send-up of Gothic fantasy
One of Jane Austen's best attributes as a writer is her rapier wit and sense of humor, which especially shows itself in her earlier novels, "Pride and Prejudice" and... Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by JLind555
1.0 out of 5 stars ZZZ ZZZZZ ZZZZZZ ZZZZZZZZ
That's right, this book will put you to sleep. This has to be one of the most excruciating novels I have ever read. There is hardly any conflict in the plot. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2004 by steve
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Better Than Expected
This book was a hard one for me to start. Not in the tradional sense of being a difficult begining. Truthfully I thouroughly enjoyed the book from the start. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2004 by Lawrence G Coatney
4.0 out of 5 stars Wishbone
When I was a kid, I loved to watch Wishbone, the terrier that used Classic Literature as a kind to life. One episode centered around Northanger Abbey. It was my favorite episode. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2003
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