Before now, the only novel by Jane Austen I had read was Pride and Prejudice back in high school, and to be honest I remember the film adaptations of it more than the actual reading of the novel. So in approaching Northanger Abbey, there was a bit of an adjustment for me in getting into the language and writing style of Austen, but after a bit of a curve and effort to get going at first, it became smoother sailing. I can understand why some people might find this novel perhaps a little slow in that a lot of the fun and development occurs through a great deal of dialogue and personal relations between characters, but I found it to be a very fun book, with a lot of wit in its writing and depiction of characters!
Northanger Abbey focuses on a young woman named Catherine, who is one of ten children. We follow her as she travels to the city of Bath with a couple of her neighbours to take in the social life and balls, where she then meets some new friends and finds a potential love-interest. This trip then also includes a period of travel to the infamous Northanger Abbey, where Catherine’s imagination about the place runs amok, and she finds herself in some embarrassing situations.
Catherine herself as the heroine of the story is lively and fun, though a bit naïve in her young age, which leads her into a few misunderstandings with her new friends and acquaintances. But we see her grow as a character throughout the story, and come to learn the ways of both people and the realities of the world: Catherine’s naivety is never truly seen as a damning fault (though it is sometimes lightly poked fun at), but a marker of her character in most often wanting to see the best in people rather than assume any negative thing about them without having proof or reason to. And how can I laugh at that when it’s such a lovely way of trying to see things, and honestly her imagination running wild at times is very relatable so I get that too! Her rapport with one of her new close friends, Eleanor Tilney, as well as the man of her fancy, Henry Tilney, is lively and very enjoyable. This is truly a funny book, and you can see why Catherine and Henry make a great pair.
While I was sometimes a little lost as to the conventions of the age, and as I mentioned had a bit of an adjustment getting into the writing style of the novel, this was not a huge deterrent from continuing on with the story. Though I will say that at times the pacing for me was a little all over the place, but this may have also been due to my attention span at any given moment of reading.
The only major negative I had with this novel was in how the conclusion occurs all of a sudden, lurching the story to a stop in a way that wraps everything up within just a couple of pages: everything within this part occurs as a quick recounting of what has happened off the page, in order to neatly conclude everything that really could have enriched the conclusion of the story and even the development of the characters at the end. Ultimately, however, I enjoyed the reading of this novel despite the ending which caught me a little off guard, and will hopefully get into a few more of Austen’s novels in the future!
CBR10 Bingo Square: This Old Thing