Pishposh! Don’t be so overdramatic and tell me the end…

Who wrote this book and when?
Jane Austen – her first novel to be written but not the first to be published – this was published posthumously in December 1817.

Has there been a film version?
A BBC TV miniseries in 1986 (surprise, surprise…)

Who are the important characters?
Catherine Morland – a 17 year old girl who comes from a comfortable family, she is described as not exceedingly pretty, a tomboy, and very much into romantic Gothic novels of the era; she has a very vivid imagination
Henry Tilney – a clergyman from Northanger Abbey, very witty and loves to tease people
Eleanor Tilney – Henry’s sister, somewhat withdrawn but very sweet
General Tilney – Henry, Eleanor and Phillip’s father, extremely strict and somewhat selfish
Isabella Thorpe – a vain, selfish young woman obsessed with fashion, being admired, and men
James Morland – Catherine’s older brother
John Thorpe – Isabella’s vain brother

What’s it about?
Catherine Morland is a somewhat sheltered and imaginative girl who is given a trip to Bath with some family friends. She has her eyes opened to the world of having friends outside the family and immediately falls in with vivacious and outgoing Isabella Thorpe and her brother. Catherine also meets the intriguing Henry Tilney and begins to be attracted to him. Then, Isabella becomes engaged to Catherine’s brother and everything seems it couldn’t be more perfect. Right?

Why is this book a classic?
It’s a Jane Austen novel, need I say more?

Do you recommend I read this book?
Ehhhh, only if you’re interested in reading every novel Jane Austen ever wrote. If you just want a taste of her, I’d probably recommend something else.

Why did this book make your list?
It’s a Jane Austen novel I had never read.

Has it won any awards?
No – pre literary award era.

Favorite quotes:
“This civility was duly returned; and they parted – on Miss Tilney’s side with some knowledge of her new acquaintance’s feelings, and on Catherine’s, without the smallest consciousness of having explained them.” – p 67

Anything else?
This was Jane Austen’s first book. She sold it to a publisher, who put it on a back shelf for many years before selling it back to Jane’s brother, who published it after her death. And it’s true – I chose that book cover image just because it made me laugh hysterically. What the heck is it all about?!?!?!?

Personal thoughts:
This was a very big letdown. I, for the most part, enjoy reading Jane Austen novels. Sometimes more when I haven’t watched the movie version of them (since almost if not all of them have been made into movies). “Northanger Abbey,” however, was almost boring. I already knew what the book was most likely about (not so rich woman, meets interesting men, Austen novel…YOU figure it out), but the book took so long in getting around to developing some semblance of a plot that I began to doubt even my own intuition. And if you’re anything like me, you hate it when you think you’ve got something figured out and whatever it is you’re figuring takes so darn long to resolve that there’s not joy in the end – just annoyance. That’s what “Northanger Abbey” was to me. Granted, it was a premiere novel, but I still believe Austen could have done much better in so many areas: character development, plot development, plot diversity, and even conclusion.

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