Thursday, July 23, 2009
Book Review: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
This is my first read for the Everything Austen Challenge. I picked it because it was Austen’s earliest major work and I had never read it before. It kind of gave me a glimpse of Austen’s earlier writing style and her perceptions of the times.
The heroine in this novel is Catherine Morland, who is just an average girl with straightforward manners and not an ounce of pretension; yet, she has an outrageously vivid imagination. This is cleverly and Austen-intended, I believe, to purposely deviate from the conventional heroines of the times.
The story begins with Catherine joining a friend of the family, Mrs. Allen, for a vacation at her home in Bath. Her days are filled with socializing, taking walks and especially spending time at the ‘Pump- room’, where she meets the rather hard-edged Henry Tilney. Catherine’s simple, yet direct and opinionated responses and approaches in conversation lead her to distancing Henry for a while.
Realizing that she has feelings for him, Catherine begins to wish she could see Henry again and does everything possible for that to happen. Meanwhile she befriends Isabella Thorpe who shares her passion for books and poetry. As the two become inseparable, Catherine feels close enough to Isabella to tell her all about her feelings for Henry Tilney…
In fulfilling her dreams of being with Henry, Catherine’s journey evolves through a fiasco of events revealing true personalities, feelings and deceptions. Other important characters that help bring this about involve John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother, who is full of mischief and schemes. As well, Catherine’s brother James, is one who has a love-story of his own to mourn over as his sister begins to put all pieces of the puzzle together. Just to add to life’s intricacies, Henry and Catherine become at odds about a dilemma, caused mainly by Catherine’s imagination. The couple’s difficulties do not stop there as problems get compounded by family misunderstandings.
Confusion of events? You bet. This story is filled with the ups-and downs of young love, anxious situations and very comical moments. Catherine was a girl before her times, which makes situations heartening as well as endearing and perfectly understandable. I gasped, laughed and truly enjoyed this Jane Austen novel. It’s the perfect introduction to the author’s subsequent masterpieces.
Posted by Lucy at 8:16 AM