Northanger Abbey is a hilarious parody of 18th century gothic novels. The heroine, 17-year old Catherine, has been reading far too many “horrid” gothic novels and would love to encounter some gothic-style terror — but the superficial world of Bath proves hazardous enough.
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Look back in Northanger
English. Her major novels critique the landed gentry and difficulties faced by women in the late 18th century with irony, humour and a style that sustains her popularity 200 years on. I should disclose at this point that I am an unabashed Austen fan, which was a bone of contention with my late father, a Walter Scott man through and through, back in the day. I concede that Emma is probably Ms Austen's best book, but I prefer Pride and Prejudice. (I like Miss Bennet better than Miss Woodhouse. Sue me.)
Northanger Abbey was Ms Austen's first completed adult novel. She submitted it to a publisher in 1803. He agreed to publish it, but didn't until after she'd died. 17-year-old Catherine Moreland, one of 10 children of a country clergyman (there are plenty of them in Austen novels), was a tomboy but knows she has to clean up her act if she's to be a "heroine," by which she means snag a bloke of means and social standing. She accompanies some wealthier neighbours to Bath for "the season," reads a lot of Gothic novels, becomes besties with a pretty little rich girl, whose cad of a bro is at Oxford with her bro, falls for a young clergyman (today it'd be a sports star or a rapper), whose family home is the titular abbey, yada, yada. Much soap opera television style intrigue occurs.
The hangover from Ms Austen's "juvenilia" (the stuff she wrote for her family when she was younger) is apparent compared with her later work (P&P, Emma, Mansfield Park), which makes this funnier IMHO. The parody of Gothic fiction of the period is priceless (and educational if you're interested). Ms Austen's use of language is, as always, sublime, and explains why her work has aged better than her contemporaries and, indeed, than many a 19th century author who followed her.
Not the author's finest work perhaps, but "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
Love this book
The shows do not do this novel justice my favourite of her books now and a must read
There's not much to say about this book. It's really boring.