Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I recommend this book for: high school and adults

Note to self - Jane Austen is great company when you're home sick! Stuck at home today with (gasp!) no new library books (although the pile on my desk at work is stacked up over my head), I pulled this one off the shelf. I've read and re-read Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, always passing by this volume - probably because it was assigned reading in an English class that we never got around to discussing. But once I started, I found this book engrossing and finished it all today!

Catherine Morland is the heroine of this story - pretty and 17, not overly accomplished, but a voracious reader of Gothic novels. The first half of the book explores her family relationships and sends her off to Bath with a childless couple as chaperons. The second half takes her to Northanger Abbey, the home of some new acquaintances (including a most fanciable young man who shares her taste in books), and where her imagination starts to run away with her. Although the horrors she imagines never come to pass, the things that honest, English people of good society are capable of doing are rather atrocious indeed - from a social standpoint, of course.

Fans of other Jane Austen works will probably eat this up - although there's no Mr. Darcy to swoon over, Mr. Tilney is a good character, and Austen's observations about human behavior as witty as in any of her other novels. My favorite: "she was so far from seeking to attract their notice, that she looked back at them only three times." Priceless.

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