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Oct 24

Book Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Book Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Published by Random House on 2008
Genres: classics, fiction
Pages: 241
Source: Giveaway prize
Goodreads

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY P.D. JAMES The Vintage Classics Austen series is designed by the writer and illustrator Leanne Shapton and introduced by some of our finest contemporary writers and Austen fans: Alexander McCall Smith, Lynne Truss, Amanda Vickery, Francesca Segal, P.D. James and Andrew Motion. 'Jane Austen is a genius, and Northanger Abbey is hugely underrated' Martin Amis Catherine Morland is a young girl with a very active imagination. Her naivety and love of sensational novels lead her to approach the fashionable social scene in Bath and her stay at nearby Northanger Abbey with preconceptions that have embarrassing and entertaining consequences.

Reading Northanger Abbey reminded me of just how clever and humorous Austen can be in her writing, especially as this novel seemed to be her most openly satirical. I love the way she uses the simple naïveté of Catherine Morland to highlight the hypocrisy, arrogance and ridiculousness of other characters.

As is frequently the case, in Northanger Abbey Austen draws attention to the role money plays in determining “appropriate” relationships and the importance of observing social customs. No surprises regarding the themes of love, marriage, family obligations, social expectations and the contrasts between the appearance and reality of respectability.

I particularly enjoyed the way Austen entered the narrative at times, generally to poke a stick at the opinions of the day regarding novels and novelists. You’ve got to admire someone who is willing to spit in the eye of her critics.

To me, Northanger Abbey is proof that it is possible to relax and enjoy reading classic novels, to find humour and light-hearted entertainment in contrast to the general image of wordy, weighty tomes that impart solid and meaningful insights about the human condition. Reading this has definitely rekindled my love of the classics.

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