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BOOK REVIEW: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey is a different work produced by Jane Austen, not so typical Austen novel I would say, and many times referred as a ‘Gothic Parody’. I haven’t read Jane Austen in years. Last book I remember reading of hers is Mansfield Park that I consider her best work.

Most of the events described in this book take place in Bath, England and later in Northanger Abbey, an estate. Catherine Morland is this novel’s young heroine who has little experience outside her own country village until she is invited to Bath with family friends, Mr. & Mrs. Allen. In Bath she befriends two families, the Thorpes and the Tilneys.

While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers and especially a fan Ann Radcliffe’s books immerses herself in the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion and let it mingle with her mind with terrible suspicions. She arouse some questions to satisfy her own appetite of imagination such as what is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful omens in the most prosaic events until Henry persuades her to see the danger in confusing life with art.

The plot having potential, failed me this time. The first half of the novel was not at all interesting, until the heroine of the book  abide inside the walls of Northanger Abbey. To  reach such a point in the book and find out rest of the story, I had to force myself to read it. Once the events of Abbey are ajar by the author the book becomes a bit interesting. The characters span are short. There are signs of usual Austen blended characters such as Mrs. Allen, and Isabella but rest of the characters fail to resemble her creation. Thought this is not the point I disagree with the author. I welcome and appreciate, always, every writer’s experimentation. What works and what not is not the concern. However, the concern of a reader on reading a book is that it should be satisfying. And this one, I have to say is not the one for me. It is a plain tale and certainly a parody.

2 out of 5

6 Replies to “BOOK REVIEW: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen”

  • It’s a shame you didn’t really like it. It’s one of my favourite Austen books although Catherine is one of my least favourite characters. She frustrates me. I do love Henry though and I quite like the more light hearted style to it.

  • I agree with both of you that Catherine is very annoying, but this is one of my favorite Austen books, so I’m disappointed it didn’t fulfill your Austeny needs. I think this book is hysterical and love the different approach to it than her other books.

  • I do enjoy this one, but I agree it’s her least typical work and not as good as her others. I think it was published after her death, though it was written when she was young, so she never went back to rewrite it like she did Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

    I so agree with you that Mansfield Park is her best book!

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