In Northanger Abbey we meet Catherine, an optimistic young girl who likes novels. She goes with her parent’s friends to Bath where she makes new acquaintances and meets Henry Tilney to whom she becomes attached. However Catherine is at once too naive in her friendships as well as a bit too imaginative. Stories are made up and they create stumble blocks for Catherine’s true happiness; marriage to Mr. Tilney.
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
This book is absolutely hilarious. Through Catherine’s naivety Austen pokes fun at the gothic genre while never throwing her heroine under the bus. Catherine’s love interest as well is charming and consistent in his attentions. He engages Catherine’s flights of fancy and gently brings her down to the ground when she needs it. SO CUTE.
“I assure you. I have no notion of treating men with such respect. That is the way to spoil them.”
Austen’s main focus seems not so much to be the telling of a story, but rather musings of the novel and its role in society. Almost as if she’s convincing herself that novels are important and worthy of her time. Northanger Abbey is Austen’s first book and while it is still entertaining and light it doesn’t quite hold up to her later works.
“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”
We see hints of intrigue and scathing dialogue, but the narrator is too far removed from the plot to fully deliver its impact, the ending is tied in a neat bow, but it is done off stage and the happiness at the young lover’s reunion is a mere aside rather than the joyous spectacle that Austen, later, is so adept at. I’m glad Austen convinced herself to be a writer. Northanger Abbey is fun and quirky and a great place to start.
“The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
CBR10Bingo: This old thing. Published in 1818. Honestly this was just an excuse to read more Jane Austen.