In Northanger Abbey, a young woman's penchant for sensational Gothic novels leads to misunderstandings in the matters of the heart. Austen's first, this is considered by many to be among her most charming novels.
Public Domain (P)2012 Trout Lake Media
I'm new to Audible, but this was the best I have heard so far.
Ms. Agliotta's voice adds an innocent quality to the point of view of the narrator.
The book itself has all the charm and wit of Jane Austen's famous writing. This is a delightful narration of the book. I found myself rooting for the young Katherine Moorehead throughout, wanting her to see the flaws in those around her in order to make her way through the world. After all, as Austen shows us once again, the superficial have lovely manners, also!
Jane Austen is great!
The narrator has no idea about the right pronunciation of places in England. She had no emotional involvment with the story. Very poor rendering.
It was not my taste, but it is a very excellent audio book. For me, it is last place among my likes.
I would have liked more of a climax woth what happens with the characters and events.
The scene when the main character is lied to and wronged.
Elegancy is overrated.
I love the narrator!
I am a reader of books.
In Northanger Abbey, the Gothic setting is in the very title of the novel. As Catherine approaches Northanger, “her impatience for a sight of the abbey... returned in full force... with solemn awe to afford a glimpse of its massy walls of grey stone, rising amidst a grove of ancient oaks, with its... high gothic windows.” However, Catherine’s expectations are met with disappointment as the abbey comes into view and she realizes that the Abbey has been modernized. This “struck her as odd and inconsistent.” Even the Gothic windows, which Catherine had heard were preserved, are not what she had expected. “To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone-work, for painted glass, dirt, and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing.” Her expectations from the fiction she has read of what Gothic architecture is contradicts the reality.
Catherine is repeatedly let down by her expectations. They are so wild and extravagant, like in the Gothic Romance she reads, that the stark difference between her expectations and reality is comical. This is Austen’s parody of Gothic tropes and it exemplifies her theme, the dangers of fantastical literature and their power of suggestion. Another Gothic convention is horror.
Instead of horror there are only mystery and suspense, the narrative precursors of horror. Henry teases Catherine on their way to Northanger Abbey, emphasizing her reading as he asks, “And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce?” He sarcastically continues to lead her on, drawing very well from the Gothic tropes that he knows Catherine is fond of reading, “We shall not have to explore our way into a hall dimly lighted by the expiring embers of a wood fire... gloomy passages... an apartment never used since some cousin or kin died in it... only the feeble rays of a single lamp... its walls hung with tapestry exhibiting figures as large as life, and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even a funereal appearance... Will not your heart sink within you?” Henry continues to josh Catherine and by the end of it Catherine humorously both asks him to stop and continue. “Oh! No, no -- do not say so. Well, go on.” Contradicting herself with an insatiably morbid curiosity.
In another example, fueled by her wild imagination and a thunderstorm, Catherine arrives in her room at Northanger Abbey suspecting the worst. However, all of her irrational fears are dashed by practical reasons. She anxiously inspects a chest in one corner, only to find a collection of old hats; there are frightening creaks and groans, but they are simply explained by the weather; and, after discovering papers within a cabinet that she expects to be a secretly hidden manuscript, she finds that it is merely a list of laundry and washing bills most likely left there by a maidservant.
In Northanger Abbey, there never is a horrifying reveal, but this is to the point. Instead of horrifying reveals, Austen rather creates moments of mystery and suspense that only hint at a horrifying reveal. In parody of the Gothic trope, these horrifying reveals comically fail to occur. The effect of this exemplifies Austen’s theme of how, instead of formulating rational reasonings, Catherine’s obsession with fantastical Gothic literature has made her highly susceptible to suggestion.
Gothic literature had become clichéd, and Jane Austen appropriates Gothic conventions in order to mock them. This parody then heightens the purpose and meaning of her novel, illustrating the folly of a quixotic obsession with fantastical literature that makes one susceptible to suggestion.
Northanger Abbey is not Austen's finest novel, but it is enjoyable. The reading was only adequate, but I have heard worse narrations.
I suspect that my favorite character is the author, who in her narrator's persona makes various snide remarks.
Alas, there were a lot of problems, though not so many as to make the work intolerable. This narration badly needed going over by an editor, to spot mispronounced words and duplicate sentences. There were enough mispronunciations to be irritating, and Mary Sarah Agliotta should get herself some coaching on that point.
She could have spotted the duplicate sentences herself if she had carefully listened to the finished product before releasing it. There also were several points at which she did not recognize what was going on in a sentence until she was halfway through, resulting in poor choices of which words to stress.
Her voice was pleasant enough, and I am not greatly bothered by the fact that she did not attempt strong differentiation of the voices of different characters. The problem is that most narrators on Audible are so superb that this reading did not measure up.
I am not sure I would enjoy going to dinner with any of the characters, all of whom seem to be pretty shallow people. I would love to go to dinner with the author.
Jane Austen uses this book to praise the value of reading novels, and at the same time demonstrates the foolishness of allowing Gothic novels to form one's expectations. It is a lovely juxtaposition.
I really like the story, Jane Austen is one of my favorite writers. But the narrator didn't even bother to figure out how to pronounce "Leicestershire" etc., it is very distracting!!
Yes, it was worth the listening time... but it sure did come with some annoyance at the narrator.
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