Friday, April 22, 2011

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”  Catherine Morland was a young lady who was influenced by the novels that she had read, particularly The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe.  Where there ghosts in that tower, did the General kill his wife or is she simply locked up in the tower?  Henry Tilney did not discourage these flights of fancy; he actually stoked the fires while approaching his family home.

Having read several other books by Jane Austen, this reader could tell that this was one of the first written by Jane Austen.  She was greatly influenced and ridiculed Anne Radcliffe by poking fun of Gothic romances, as evidenced by her writing style of Northanger Abbey.  It was also apparent that this was one of her first novels as the romance and courtship in this story were not as well drawn as it was in her later novels.  I was left wanting to see more of the feelings from her gentleman.  There was a lot of mockery and harsh words from many of the men in this novel.  John Thorpe with his forceful ways of guilting Catherine in to doing things she did not want to do, or simply by telling others what to do, in spite of the desires of the person.  Henry Tilney with his fidelity in a simple country dance, and how one dances is a sign of how one lives.  General Tilney seemed at one moment all politeness then turned scornful upon hearing half-truths.

There was quite a bit of humour in this story, namely the imaginings of Catherine and how she let them take over her.  This short novel could have been better drawn out to show more of the feelings of Henry Tilney.  Throughout the book, I didn’t think that he cared for Catherine; I actually thought that the General was courting Catherine more than Henry was.  I did enjoy how Jane Austen captured Catherine’s spirit, she acted as any seventeen year old girl would, who had read too many novels.  It was also nice to see how much Jane Austen’s writing improved over the years by having this initial baseline set.  I would highly recommend that this be a first to read to any young lady who wants to start with Jane Austen, as it not only is the first that should be read, but I think that it will speak to younger girls in the character of Catherine, as she is truly captured in her youthful fancies. 

4 Stars
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