Merry Wanderer of the Night + novel

Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

is all about my favorite kind of novel: the gothic romance. What makes this novel special though is that it pokes fun at the gothic romance but is still enjoyable for a gothic lover like myself. Our heroine is 17 year-old Catherine Morland, lover of great gothic thrillers. She is visiting Bath with friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen, which is where she makes friends with Isabella Thorpe and finds the two love interests of the novel, Henry Tilney and John Thorpe. The Tilney family invites Catherine to stay with them at their home, Northanger Abbey. Catherine expects Northanger Abbey to be like the great ancient and dark abbeys in the books she reads. She is easily persuaded by Henry Tilney that the home actually does inhabit all the creepiness she expects. She convinces herself that General Tilney had a hand in his wife's death and searches her room and the rest of the abbey for any clue that will tell her the truth. She spends sleepless nights wondering and letting her fears get the best of her. Of course there is a wild storm outside to accompany all of this. Henry makes Catherine realize that she is ridiculous, and that life and art do not always inspire each other. Gothic novels are meant to be thrilling because they are a diversion from life.

This novel is definitely a coming of age story, which I enjoyed a great deal. It's very different from the other novels I have read by Austen because it mainly about Catherine and not the other characters, although they do move along her story. Catherine is so naive and I felt myself cringing at some of her thoughts. She is completely oblivious to the fact that John Thorpe is courting her and to Isabella Thorpe's bitchy motives. The novel is written in such a way that you can see all the stupid things Catherine thinks but it is obvious that she doesn't know they are stupid. It's not all her fault though, obviously she is young and John Thorpe does not help matters. He plays with the Tilney's minds and leads them to think very different things about Catherine than are actually true.

I liked this one. I felt like it dealt a great deal with perception, which is a common theme in many of Austen's novels. My favorite part was the way the ride home from Northanger Abbey looks so different from the ride there because she realizes that everything she saw on the way there was a working of her imagination. I sympathized with Catherine when she began to realize that everything she thought about the world is... wrong. Don't you hate that? The novel ended a little too tidy for me, but that is a common complaint with Austen.

Pub. Date: February 2008 (Reissue)
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 256pp

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Northanger Abbey + novel