There is Catherine's hilarious liaison with a paragon of bad manners and boastfulness; her disastrous friendship with an unforgettably crass coquette; and a whirl of cotillion dances with their timeless mortifications. A visit to ancient Northanger Abbey, the ancestral home of the novel's handsome hero, excites the irrepressible Catherine's hopes of romance amid gothic horrors. But what awaits her there is a drama of a different kind, in this most youthfully exuberant and broadly comic of Jane Austen's works.
©1818 Public Domain; (P)1995 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
In the movie "The Jane Austen Book Club" Riggs says that Northanger Abby is a book about writing books. The young authoress Jane Austen stretches her wings and tries to find her way through the air. At first, I thought that she was taking a shot at the famous author of the day Mrs. Anne Radcliff. Now, I think that in Northanger Abby, Miss Austen was paying her respects.
This a fun book and has become my favorite Austen book with the qualification, my favorite Austen book is usually the one I am reading. Northanger Abby is great when one doesn't want to be bothered with any deep thoughts. Austen's leading ladies are quite different from one another but are very strong women with definite guiding principles and boundaries which they will never cross. I can easily imagine falling in love with any of them (except Lady Susan) and being very happy.
Catherine Moreland is no clever witty Elizabeth Bennett, self controlled Elinor Dashwood, long suffering Anne Elliot or rich beautiful Emma Woodhouse. Nope, Catherine is "almost pretty", naive, not overly well educated, not at all clever but she is sincere, straight forward and I easily understand why Henry got swept away by her. A man cannot resist a decent looking woman with good sense who is in love with him. (That's an Austen paraphrase.)
One observation, Catherine Moreland is a naive unworldly girl but she "ain't" the only one. Pay attention to the very worldly John and Isabella Thorpe and General Tillme. Just as Miss Bingley never had a shot at Mr. Darcy(even without a Elizabeth Bennett), John Thorpe never had a shot at Catherine but was self deluded into thinking she was his for the asking. Isabella was so interested in the bird in the bush that she let slip the bird in the hand and lost both. John and Isabella Thorpe are case studies in how to do everything wrong while trying to captivate a member of the opposite sex. This book is a feel good tonic.
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