Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen

Meh.  I wasn't that impressed with this one.  According to Wikipedia, this was Jane Austen's first completed novel, so I guess it makes sense that it's not her best.

Back of the Book:  Actually, I read this in ebook format, so there was no back.  But if there WERE a back, it would probably say something similar to the description on LibraryThing:

Catherine, at seventeen, is an insatiable reader of 'horrid' novels full of villainous monks, secret corridors and blameless heroines. So, when, during an eventful visit to Bath, she is invited to the Tilneys' family home, Northanger Abbey, her cup is full. The quizzical Henry Tilney embarrasses her by guessing at her vivid speculations and she fears that she has lost his good opinion for ever. Just as she begins to hope again, his father inexplicably banishes her...In a lively novel, portraying social life in fashionable Bath and the terrors of an imposing country house, Jane Austen exposes the dangers of an over-active imagination, of mistaken ideals and of bad faith. But while Catherine's youthful blunders are treated with reconciling good humour, hypocrisy, avarice and social climbing are unmercifully delineated in this joyously incisive love story.

Unfortunately, Catherine doesn't actually get to Northanger Abbey until about 2/3 of the way through the book.  So, the subplot of Catherine thinking the Abbey is a house from one of her novels is really minimal.  Most of the book takes place in Bath, where Catherine was invited by Mr. and Mrs. Allen so that she could experience something of the world.

Mrs. Allen meets up with one of her old friends and Catherine befriends her daughter, Isabella.  At first, I really liked Catherine and Isabella's friendship.  They were all teenagery, trading books and gossiping about their crushes; pretty much the way I live my life now.  But I HATE when you have one of those friends that thinks you shouldn't have other friends. Isabella and her brother, John, are the worst kind of selfish.  Even though it looked super dramatic when Catherine ran all the way down the street and forced herself into the Tilney's house to tell them that she COULD hang out with them the next day (contrary to what John had told them), I didn't blame her.  Although, I would have tied the whole situation up by punching John in the face afterwards.  And then maybe getting a restraining order.

Catherine gets invited to stay with Henry and Eleanor Tilney at Northanger Abbey by their dad because he was under the impression that Catherine came from a lot of money.  And a lot of money = a good daughter-in-law.  Catherine gets this wild idea that the Tilneys' mother didn't really die of a mysterious illness, and that she is instead being kept locked in a room in a secret wing of the house by General Tilney.  There's not a lot of evidence that supports her theory, besides the fact that the General doesn't want anybody visiting his wife's old rooms.  Well, neither would I, but Catherine thinks that means he never loved his wife, so...

It all ends well of course, because it's Jane Austen.  But I just never really felt the love between Catherine and Henry Tilney.  I mean, her crush on him is obvious from the beginning, but I never got the same vibe from him.  All-in-all, not that bad, but probably not worth a reread.

Read more reviews on this book at LibraryThing.

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