Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons Paperback – Dec 8 2010
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About the Author
One of England s most beloved authors, Jane Austen wrote such classic novels as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Published anonymously during her life, Austen s work was renowned for its realism, humour, and commentary on English social rites and society at the time. Austen s writing was supported by her family, particularly by her brother, Henry, and sister, Cassandra, who is believed to have destroyed, at Austen s request, her personal correspondence after Austen s death in 1817. Austen s authorship was revealed by her nephew in A Memoir of Jane Austen, published in 1869, and the literary value of her work has since been recognized by scholars around the world.
Nazarian left the former Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, a refugee at the age of eight, and arrived in the U.S. a month before her 10th birthday. She is an active member of Science Fiction Writers of America.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Through the pages of Vera Nazarian's Northanger Abbey Angels and Dragons, we learn that our heroine, Catherine Morland, possesses great metaphysical powers that enable her to see, hear, and talk to angels. In addition, we discover that John and Isabella Thorpe are strange nephilim creatures that inspire the whole town of Bath to search for secret hidden treasure. The clues of which they claim could be found encrypted in Mrs. Radcliffe's novels. Add to that mysterious dragons flying in the sky and ghosts dwelling in furniture and you have a supernaturally twisted version of Northanger Abbey that's quite diverting.
What an amusing and charming monster mash-up! I found Northanger Abbey Angels and Dragons to be a reverent and well-crafted homage to Jane Austen's original. I loved Catherine's little hosts of angels; the poor dears had the difficult task of trying to keep Catherine out of danger. In addition, I found it hilarious that the odious John Thorpe was akin to a repulsive ogre that rattles about hidden treasures and encrypted clues all the time. Moreover, I thought it quite apropos that his sister, Isabella Thorpe, is a nephilim with a truly cold heart, that chills everyone that comes within her vicinity. And what about Henry Tileny, you say? What type of supernatural creature is he? What metaphysical powers does he have??? I'm afraid I can't disclose that here, if you really want to know, you must read Northanger Abbey Angels and Dragons to find out!
As you can see this is more of a mash-up of comedy and absurdity rather than violence and mayhem. Ms. Nazarian pokes fun at Northanger Abbey, her readers, and her own novel. By just reading the back cover of this book, readers can see evidence of Ms. Nazarian's subtle sense of humor and playful tone. Besides making you laugh, this tale will warm your heart. The ending is beautifully and surprisingly romantic.
Now the question remains: would I read another monster mash-up in the future? Most assuredly! Especially if it is a comical mash-up or parody! And especially if it is written by Vera Nazarian! I'm looking forward to the next installment in her Jane Austen Supernatural series, which is titled Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret. (I wonder what his secret could be...)
The author's additions are in keeping with Austen's tone and word usage, so the text doesn't jolt you out of reading. Characters remained mostly as they were, even taking into consideration of Vera Nazarian's alterations; the depictions of the Thorne siblings were spot on to how I had thought of them when reading Austen's original novel. Austen's touch with poking fun at societal propriety remains intact, and is not exaggreated for additional comdic effect. There is also no gore or violence involved - which is much more in keeping with Austen's books**.
However, on the downside: appearances of the angels felt repetitive, and the additions to the plot made it a bit over-complicated. The footnotes were largely meant to be funny, but just as often fell flat; linking every mention of gay to Oscar Wilde was irritating, for example, as well as being temporally inaccurate. The footnotes also tended to tell you want a thing wasn't meant to convey, rather than what it was, which rankled. I think that this was an odd choice of Austen's novels to adapt, mostly because Auster herself had, in a way, already done so herself with the inclusion of Mrs. Radcliffe's Udolfo.
Overall rating: between 3.5 and 4 stars - Fans of the Austen-with-a-twist genre, but not delighted by the inclusion of the undead may well enjoy this more than its monster-ridden cousins.
Review copy supplied by the author as part of LibraryThing's Member Giveaway program.
* most notably the Quirk Classics' infamous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series.
**For all the soldiers running around in Austen's novels, there really is an astounding lack of blood and violence.
Northanger Abbey lends itself readily to this treatment, since Miss Austen herself originally wrote it to skewer the then-current fascination with gothic novels among fashionable young women. Ms. Nazarian adds another layer that skewers the current fascination with Dan Brown and his imitators who spin yarns of sinister conspiracies and secret codes buried in famous works of art and literature.
And she even manages to slip in some deeply metaphysical discussion about the nature of life and love.
What's not to love?
The writing style stays true to the book, and while I did wonder how the plot could be followed, it was actually followed quite faithfully, except for the additions which blended in with the book.
The only thing that kept this book from getting 5 stars were the footnotes, which felt a bit patronizing at times (and really, why are there so many references to Oscar Wilde?)
Disclosure: I got this book for free from the LibraryThing Member Giveaway. I was asked to write a review, but all opinions here are mine and mine alone.