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Publisher's Summary

A coming-of-age tale for the young and naïve 17-year-old Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey takes a decidedly comical look at themes of class, family, love and literature. Revelling in the sensationalist - and extremely popular - Gothic fiction of her day, the story follows Catherine out of Bath to the lofty manor of the Tilneys, where her overactive imagination gets to work constructing an absurd and melodramatic explanation for the death of Mrs Tilney, which threatens to jeopardise her newly forged friendships.

This Audible Originals production of Northanger Abbey stars Emma Thompson (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA winner, Love Actually, Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility), Lily Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Snow White and the Huntsman, St. Trinian's), Douglas Booth (Noah, Great Expectations, The Riot Club), Jeremy Irvine (Warhorse, The Railway Man, Now Is Good), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, The Illusionist, Alice in Wonderland) and Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass 2), amongst others.

Public Domain (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Impressive." (Harper's Bazaar)
"This new production marries the author's wit, charm and dry humour with performances from some of the UK's leading actors." (Psychologies)
"A wonderful new dramatisation." (The Times)
"Emma Thompson leads a large, glitzy cast." (Economist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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There is no substitute for unabridged

This audiobook looked very good at first glance with an array of professional actor narrators handling a volume with much character dialogue. The Book has large sections of description and context which is lost by converting a long volume of text into a short play. In Austen as in many other novelists abridgment of this kind results in a huge loss. I'm afraid that reading or listening to a well narrated version of the entire book is superior to a skinnied down version. There is more than one unabridged version of this book available in audio.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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A Treasure

Northanger Abbey has always been one of my favorite Austen stories (along with Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and… oh). Anyway—it ranks WAY higher than Mansfield Park, at least. But I’ve always loved that it’s Austen’s most obvious play at satire, demonstrating, perhaps ironically (or maybe, given Austen’s own life, not at all) what kind of trouble a wild imagination can get a young woman into. So it lends itself beautifully to this new high-spirited, and very funny, dramatization. It even seems that Austen has herself been cast as the omniscient and wise narrator (and who else more fully embodies those qualities than the brilliant Emma Thompson?). If you love a good comedy of manners, don’t miss this delightful audio-only treasure.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Boyd
  • WASHOUGAL, WA, United States
  • 07-30-17

Great surprise

Although I have attained a fairly great age, I had never read Northanger Abbey. As the story progressed I thought it rather slow moving, however, halfway through the tale picked up for my interest and kept me engaged to make it one of the few audiobooks I completed in less than a day.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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I wish for more stars to fill in

Every Jane Austin is my favorite. I go back to listen to each repeatedly. I must admit I did not adequately appreciate the wry humor of Northanger Abbey until listening to this production. It may now be my favorite.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Some excellent performances, some poor

The female parts were very well done but the male parts were wooden and unconvincing.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • mary
  • perth amboy, NJ, United States
  • 07-30-17

Simply Superb!

Jane Austen never disappoints of course, and of course this is one of my favorites, right upp there with... Well... Basically everything she ever wrote so never mind about that comment. But this production is amazing! The charm, the delightful story, the amazing actors, the writing, the everything, it's great. If you are in doubt, don't be. These were some of the best six hours of my life! Thank you Audible and to Ms. Austen as ever. I

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Excellent story and performance

The Audible recording of Northanger Abbey is a wonderful presentation of this story by the celebrated author Jane Austen as expertly adapted by Anna Lea. The excellent actors, superb narration by the peerless Emma Thompson, and vivid production make NA a first-rate audio book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful performance by everyone

Emma Thompson is an absolute delight to listen to. Her narration utterly thrilled me, and kept in me in great suspense, even though I know the story by heart

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Charming!

I loved this full cast edition. The shining star being Emma Thompson 's narration of course! I'll continue to follow these types of audible originals!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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classic performance of a classic

Emma Thompson is brilliant, her nuanced tones bring the story to life. I can't say I've ever had this opinion before: I think I liked this more than when I read it myself. All the cast do a great job, my emotions followed along with their performances, I was totally drawn in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Miss S L Plateau
  • 07-31-17

Austen's best work brought to life

Northanger Abbey is often overshadowed by Jane Austen's other greats such as Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. However I think that it is some of her best work, bringing just the right amount of drama, romance and heartache into a brilliant story.

The cast is absolutely fantastic, with once again the amazing Emma Thompson perfectly capturing Austen's dry sense of humour and wit within the text. Ella Purnell really brings to life the innocence and naivety of Catherine and Jeremy Irvine makes Henry a lovable bachelor.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone, it's a really enjoyable listen with a great cast to match.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • FictionFan
  • 11-19-17

Horridly excellent!

Northanger Abbey is the most deliciously light of all of Austen’s books, filled with humour as Austen pokes gentle fun at her own class and gender. Catherine Morland is our naïve 17-year-old heroine, leaving her country parsonage home for the first time to visit the bright lights of Bath in the company of her generous neighbours, the Allens. Starry-eyed and romantic, and with an obsessive love of the Gothic sensation fiction of the day, Catherine is ready to be thrilled by everything and everyone she meets. Having reviewed the book before, I'm concentrating here on the production and performances in Audible's new dramatisation of it.

This is done as half narration and half dramatisation. The narration is done superbly by Emma Thompson, someone who truly 'gets' Austen as anyone who has watched her performance in the wonderful 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility will know – a film for which she also wrote the script. In this one, she goes all out to bring out the humour in the script, and her affectionately ridiculing tone and excellent comic timing had me laughing aloud time and time again. It truly feels to me as if she's channelling Austen – I suspect if Jane read her manuscript aloud to her family, she'd have delivered it just like this, with the same fond teasing of our delightful Catherine and the same gasping drama over the Gothic horror elements, played strictly for laughs. Thompson verges perilously close to going over the top at points, but is far too masterful to actually do so. Part of me wished this was a straight narration – and I really would like her to narrate all the Austen novels, please, when she has a moment to spare.

That's not to suggest I didn't enjoy the dramatised elements too – I did, very much. The young cast were largely unknown to me, since I don't watch much TV or film, but several of them have impressive lists of credits to their names already. Each turned in a fine performance here with no weak links in the chain.

The role of Catherine is vital, and Ella Purnell does an excellent job in portraying the youthful naivety that sometimes leads her into foolish behaviour. She brings great charm to the role, with the same infectious good humour that makes Catherine such a likeable heroine on the page. Henry, I always feel, is a harder role to pull off, since frankly he's so patronising to our lovely Catherine and his sister Eleanor that I often have an uncontrollable desire to hit him over the head with a well-filled reticule. So I was very impressed with the way Jeremy Irvine was able to navigate that aspect with such a degree of warmth in his tone that I found it easy to forgive him and to understand Catherine's attraction to him. (And bear in mind, girls, that I didn't even have the advantage of being able to see him... except perhaps in my mind's eye... ;) )

Douglas Booth and Lily Cole are both nicely unlikeable as the baddies John and Isabella Thorpe (Boo! Hiss!), Booth managing with aplomb all John's boastful silliness about his horses and so on, while Cole drips delicious insincerity with every word. As the sensible one, Eleanor Tilney can tend to be somewhat dull as a character, but Eleanor Tomlinson gives her some much needed vivacity, while in the big dramatic scene near the end, she brings out beautifully all her distress and embarrassment. My other favourite is Mrs Allen, played by Anna Chancellor. Again she can be a tricky character; her rather silly empty-headedness and obsession with clothes could easily be annoying in the wrong hands, but Chancellor brings out her affectionate nature and the true warmth of her feelings towards Catherine, and the script is very humorous at showing how she allows her husband to form all her opinions for her.

Directed by Catherine Thompson, the production itself is fun with all the appropriate sound effects of carriages rattling along the roads, dramatic music for the Abbey horror scenes and delightful dance music during all the various balls. The balance between narration and dramatisation is good and I find this format works particularly well for audio – better than either alone for me. The bursts of dramatisation hold my attention in a way that an unbroken narration, however good, sometimes doesn't; while the narration gives an opportunity to hear the author's voice and fill out the background that's sometimes missed when a book is reduced completely to dialogue. The script too, by Anna Lea, is excellent, sticking as it should entirely to Austen's own words. I felt it had been a little abridged, not just for the linking parts in the dialogue to make it work as a dramatisation, but also in some of the narrated parts. But if so, the abridgement is done smoothly and none of the important elements have been cut.

So another excellent audio drama from Audible, who seem to be producing more and more of these, and casting them with some of our top performers. Keep them coming, I say! And as for this one – highly recommended!

NB This audio drama was provided for review by Audible UK via MidasPR.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nigel
  • 08-13-17

Oh dear, could only take 36 minutes of this


Was looking forward to listening to this star-studded Audible release, but found it unbearable.

Am quite happy for audio-dramas to be part-narration, like ‘The Forsytes sage’ which is excellent, but Emma Thompson’s narration was too long and far too fast. It just wasn’t a relaxing listen so kept zoning out. Needed more drama, less narration.

In all the many books I have bought from Audible, this is only the second I’m sending back. Such a shame.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Malie Lalor
  • 07-21-17

Lovely dramatisation of a favourite Austen

Would you consider the audio edition of Northanger Abbey to be better than the print version?

I think if you're an Austen fan you need to own the print, the wonderful unabridged audio version narrated by Juliet Stevenson, AND this great dramatisation for your life to be complete.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Emma Thompson is brilliant as the arch and sympathetic narrator. Eleanor Tomlinson in particular is wonderful as Miss Tilney and I would love to listen to other books read by her. The other characters are all very well performed though Isabella isn't exactly how I imagined her.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, definitely. I'm sure I'd listen to it again.

Any additional comments?

So satisfying having a leisurely adaptation that gives a pretty much unabridged version of this Austen rather than a brief 2- or 3-hour version. Hope Audible Studios will give all the other Austens this treatment, and a few other classics too!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-06-17

Northanger Abby

Have enjoyed listening to this audiobook ,beautifully read the characters come to life in every chapter.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-28-17

a delightful treat

This is an excellent, evocative and absorbing adaptation of the book. it brings it to life for you and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast is a pleasure to listen to.

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  • C. Mcewan
  • 08-14-17

a lively and enjoyable version

beautifully narrated by Emma Thompson. the story has really been brought to life with a fresh angle on tonality and sentiment. loved It!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sue
  • 08-04-17

Joyfully Done.

i first read this as a teenager and was swept up in the romance, totally missing the slight silliness of the heroine.
This adaptation looks at her squarely, but with great affection, for what she is, a very young, very naive girl, oblivious to other people's schemes.
I don't remember the gentle humour at her overblown, over-dramatic gushiyness but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I don't understand the criticisms of other reviewers for the narrator, and the idea that she is an American is hysterical!
Emma Thompson plays the part of Jane Austin brilliantly. Her love for her heroine is clear but she is not blind to her failings. The pace of the narration moves with the pace of the narrative and I adored it.
I'm off now to read the book to compare it to this adaptation and see what I missed as a girl.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • carol
  • 08-02-17

Superb story, thoroughly enjoyable to listen to.

Jane Austin at her best, and she recalls characters so delightfully, and witty and funny.


1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • stef
  • 07-26-17

Love Jabe Austin

thoroughly enjoyed first ever experience of audible books. will be ordering more. thanks to all.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jessica
  • 07-28-17

Absolutely brilliant!

One of the best Audio books I've listened to in a very long time. So happy that Audible have put this together! I have long been a massive fan of Jane Austen's works and you have done Northanger Abbey absolute justice. Amazing voice acting by all the actors involved. Please continue to make more of these!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful