An ordinary young woman with no particular beauty, intellect or talents, no money and no sad backstory doesn’t have a lot going for her. But when family friends ask her to stay in Bath with them for several weeks, her life is about to become much more exciting. As Catherine makes new friends, attends balls and falls in love, she realizes that people are not all as genuine as she is. A Jane Austen novel with the clear-cut writing style and relatable characters we all love, yet markedly different from the others.
I read this book for my own personal pleasure and was not required to write a review. Therefore, all comments and opinions are entirely my own.
In mid-June I attended my first JASP (Jane Austen Summer Program), which has been hosted an hour away from where I live for the past 6 years. The theme this summer was Northanger Abbey and Frankenstein as 2018 is the 200th anniversary of each novel. I had read 5 of Jane Austen’s 7 novels and I’ll admit, I wasn’t eager to start reading Northanger Abbey. I had heard from many Jane Austen fans that this was their least favorite Austen novel and I had put off reading it for years because of that.
Boy, was I in for a surprise. I read it in about a week and stayed up until 1 am finishing the last few chapters. I love classics with a passion, but I never read them that quickly or with that much anticipation. It is now easily one of my favorite Austen novels.
For a long time, I thought Northanger Abbey was a gothic novel like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. But in fact, it’s completely the opposite. It’s a satire of gothic novels. Honestly, this novel had some of Austen’s most witty and sarcastic narration I’ve ever read and I couldn’t stop snickering.
While the pace is slower in Northanger Abbey than in other novels Austen has written, I loved all the details to social interaction. For about a year and a half I’ve been swing dancing and because of that, I understand dancing terms and etiquette now, when I hadn’t before. Many of Catherine’s frustrations, embarrassments or triumphs when it comes to making friends or getting the handsome man to dance with her, I now completely understand and relate to.
Catherine is not like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice or Elinor from Sense and Sensibility when it comes to her level of intellect. But she has common sense and a pure heart. She may not be able to deeply discuss books with me, but she’d know when someone was treating me badly and have conviction enough to do something about it. And that’s what I love about her.
In the same line of thought, that’s also what I loved about her relationship with Henry Tilney. He was smarter and more mature than her, but instead of lording it over her, he used it to guide her in the right direction. Sometimes, he had to confront her, so she’d change. I think that’s what true love is all about. Loving someone for who they are, but also loving them enough to want them to be the best person they can be.
I give Northanger Abbey 5 out of 5 stars. Jane Austen’s version of a coming-of-age story, it’s perfect for all ages who are ready for a classic dripping in sarcasm and satire.
Valerie Cotnoir graduated from homeschooling in 2016. She is currently studying for a BA in History through online courses with Lumerit Education while working part time at the preschool at her church. Valerie was born in Montreal, Canada, but lived for fourteen years in Plano, Texas before moving with her family to the Raleigh area in North Carolina. She is the oldest of four and has two sisters and one brother. She’s been writing since she could hold a pencil and reading books just as long. She loves having deep conversations about theology, books and movies with friends and family. Her favorite memory verse is and has been for many years John 16:33:
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”