When Catherine Morland, a country clergyman's daughter, is invited to spend a season in Bath with the fashionable high society, little does she imagine the delights and perils that await her. Captivated and disconcerted by what she finds, and introduced to the joys of "Gothic novels" by her new friend, Isabella, Catherine longs for mystery and romance. When she is invited to stay with the beguiling Henry Tilney and his family at Northanger Abbey, she expects mystery and intrigue at every turn. However, the truth turns out to be even stranger than fiction.
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This was a fun, light-hearted romp, but not one of Austen's best works. It had her characteristic humor, and I love the way she delivers both approbation and condemnation in such wry, genteel turns of phrase. Austen's world is a Regency fairyland where nothing truly violent or horrific ever happens, which makes Catherine Morland, the 17-year-old heroine of Northanger Abbey all the more endearing. Catherine reads lots of gothic novels, and would like nothing better than to be trapped in a haunted house, discover that the local baronet is hiding his mad wife in an attic, find a mysterious orphan on her doorstep, uncover a wicked poisoning plot, etc. Sadly, no such dramatic events occur during her stay in Bath, but she does make friends with the Allens, the Thorpes, and the Tilneys, leading to a typical Austen comedy of manners with misunderstandings, deceptions, attachments, broken engagements, etc.
Catherine is a sweet former tomboy who still has a vivid imagination and a taste for adventure. She grows up over the course of her little adventure, making friends, figuring out that not everyone can be taken at face value, and that she shouldn't try to fit real people into the plots of gothic novels. Also, Austen has a lot of fun name-checking fellow authors, honoring some and making fun of others, and defending the novel as a legitimate work of art.
However, the ending was rushed and had none of the humor or wit of the first part, like Austen had a fun time writing about her overly-imaginative heroine and her adventures for the first part of the book, and then said, "Oh, well, I guess I'd better write the happy ending now." So all misunderstandings are cleared up and Catherine is suitably settled in the last chapter, mostly through a lot of exposition. So, an enjoyable but a lightweight book without the depth of some of Austen's other works.
Oh, Catherine Morland. I have such an affection for the silly, melodramatic girl. I feel like she is the original fangirl. Her obsession with fictional characters and worlds causes her so much embarrassment in real life. It's really cringe-worthy but also completely endearing. I'm surprised Northanger Abbey hasn't really had a modern adaptation yet, because it lends itself to it really well. Catherine feels like a normal 17-year-old. I adore Henry Tilney too. I love his sense of humour and lively spirits. I really like how Austen satirises novels and fiction while honouring them at the same time. It's a really, really fun book - as all of Austen's are!
"fabric artist and quilter"
I was warned that it wasn't her best, and they were right, it wasn't her best but it wasn't as bad as I half expected. The story was full of her usual insights, however the heroines weren't quite good enough to make fully fledged heroines, but the men were right from the moment they entered the book you knew were going to be bounders and were, but the pathos and general wit was lacking and Catherine Moreland just needed a bit more instruction for her to be up there with the Fannys and the like - it would have taken an episode of "Extreme Make Over" to turn her into an Elizabeth or Emma and that was never going to happen!
Juliet Stevenson does an impeccable job narrating the novel and I know that that if she read "Pig Farmers guide to breeding: piglet upbringing (including possible parasitical infestations)'" I am sure that it would be a hit - I would listen to it intently!
I've done them all now - I wish that Jane had been a prolific as Dickens or Trollope but that said it is quality not the quantity and what delights we have of her and Juliet together. A match made in heaven and here at Audible! I don't love them all equally but I do love them all.
I like to listen to classic literature while I'm on the treadmill at the gym. The deep meaningful thoughts drown out the inane pop music.
Oh yes! And I have recommended it to my daughters to show them how important it is to avoid frivolously minded girlfriends.
Juliet Stevenson is my favorite female reader. I am in awe of her ability to portray such different characters in rapid succession. She brings a life and color to the characters that truly does enhance the experience of a book.
This may be my favorite Jane Austen novel, and the narrator is perfect. My only complaint is that once I downloaded the file and put it in iTunes, the audio quality wasn't nearly what it was in the sample on this website. I downloaded Audio Format 4. I had the same issue with Persuasion, also read by Juliet Stevenson, but I did not have this problem with Pride and Prejudice or Emma, both read by different narrators, which I downloaded about a year ago. This makes me think that the problem is with this file and not with my computer.
I found Northanger Abbey to be very boring and not at all like Jane Austen's other works. I would have rated this book a one star, but I have to give credit to Juliet Stevenson, who did an excellent job reading this dull and lifeless book. I would definitely listen to her read again!!!
This isnt the most entertaining Austin story out there. The tale is pretty drawn out and the romance and suspence are very subdued compared to her other works. I did enjoy the story but found myself frequently checking my MP3 player to see how much was left.
I wouldn't say it is better than the print version. It's the same great story, just delivered by a different medium. For example, if you currently loathe the thought of reading a print book, because you are a uni student who is exhausted by the idea of reading anything other than a Facebook status, and cannot bear physically destroying your eyeballs for a second longer... an audiobook is a glorious option. You can enjoy the things that you love, books and stories, whilst closing your tired and weary eyes, or while cleaning the house which you have neglected for another term paper, or while going for a long walk because procrastinating is the secret skill of students.
It is not better, it is different.
Equally pleasurable in its own unique way.
Other Jane Austen books... you either like them, or you don't. Comparing them to other books is not going to make an individual appreciate the glory that is Northanger Abbey.
I was actually surprised by how much I came to love Juliet Stevenson's performance. One of the things I loathe most about Jane Austen audiobooks is that they are narrated by hordes of dreary old women with affected accents. They are often ghastly.
For example, there is cinematic representation of Mrs Bennett, which is as expected, over the top - as a reader, I do not appreciate the screeching in an affected accent through my headphones.
I do appreciate differentiating between characters with different voices and accents, usually, but somehow in an Austen book, it's usually audiobook destroying (please see above example).
I will never understand why Austen novels are narrated by dying old women, when they are stories about vivacious young women.
However, at first I did not appreciate Juliet Stevenson, because as usual I thought her voice much to mature, but after two chapters she had gained my love and admiration, forever. She captures the wit an cynicism perfectly, even if she is a little bit middle aged, (respectable, not dying). She is properly perfect at narrating Jane Austen's most hilariously hilarious novel. You could literally visualise every raised eyebrow simply from the tone of her voice. JULIET STEVENSON IS A TRULY MAGICAL HUMAN BEING.
Jane Austen, taking the Mickey.
Northanger Abbey is the best Jane Austen novel.
I am a fiber artist and teacher. I love moderate action, plot twists, diverse characters and much romance.
This is a great book for lovers of romance novels, and Jane Austen in particular. According to Wikipedia (I know) this was her first novel, but was not published until after her death. The heroine is even more normal than other Austen heroines, so that's fun. The best part (aside from the story) is that the narrator/novelist has a voice and speaks at length about her views on novels/novelists/readers.
The narrator was solid, and non-aggravating, though occasionally her Exclamatory Catherine voice startled me rather more than I thought necessary.
Overall a very enjoyable listen.
I was educated into oblivion but have overcome it and am having a wonderful life
Very fun - Jane Austen writing about the sweetest fan of Gothic tales yet who is the perfect antiGothic heroine.
Northanger Abbey complements the oh-so-tragic tales of such figures as Heathcliffe and Kathy. However, it oh-so-not such a tale. Only Austen's narrative can make one chuckle at the difference.
Stevenson's portrayals are easily understood, well formed, and never condescending.
Very fun novel. I enjoyed talking to friends about this book and hearing what they'd thought when they'd read it.
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