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Northanger Abbey  By  cover art

Northanger Abbey

By: Val McDermid
Narrated by: Jane Collingwood
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Publisher's summary

Jane Austen in the hands of queen of crime, Val McDermid. Get ready for a very different Northanger Abbey.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine ‘Cat’ Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat’s wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons.

Edinburgh initially offers no such thrills: Susie Allen is obsessed by shopping, Andrew Allen by the Fringe. A Highland Dance class, though, brings Cat a new acquaintance: Henry Tilney, a pale, dark-eyed gentleman whose family home, Northanger Abbey, sounds perfectly thrilling. And an introduction to Bella Thorpe, who shares her passion for supernatural novels, provides Cat with a like-minded friend. But with Bella comes her brother John, an obnoxious banker whose vulgar behaviour seems designed to thwart Cat’s growing fondness for Henry.

Happily, rescue is at hand. The rigidly formal General Tilney invites her to stay at Northanger with son Henry and daughter Eleanor. Cat’s imagination runs riot: an ancient abbey, crumbling turrets, secret chambers, ghosts…and Henry! What could be more deliciously romantic?

But Cat gets far more than she bargained for in this isolated corner of the Scottish Borders. The real world outside the pages of a novel proves to be altogether more disturbing than the imagined world within…

©2014 Val McDermid (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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well-executed, but why?

This is very faithful to the original, and well recast in 21st century teen talk--- however, take the period out of Austen, and you have a light chic lit tale, too often told. I thought McDermid might bring out the darker satire of Northanger – my biggest concern before downloading was how would I react to McDermid’s usual graphic violence in an Austen classic – no worry! This re-telling will not alarm the most squeamish. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, so I kept listening (well, there’s one tiny cute twist, coming from McDermid). My time would have been better spent re-listening to Juliet Stephenson reading the original. Like an Oxford School paraphrasing of a Shakespeare play – why bother if you want more than the bare story, and if you just want the bare story, why go on (and on) about tweeting Twilight and other modern teen concerns? If the intent was to make the novel more accessible to younger audiences, I think that’s a miss, too: the beauty of Austen is that she draws readers into more complex prose and period. Perhaps if the market weren’t flooded with Austen spin-offs, this might have been a novelty at least.


P.S. The blurbs in the publisher’s summary MUST be about other McDermid novels!

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