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Northanger Abbey
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Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
I love Jane Austen as much as the next reader, but Norhtanger Abbey never appealed to me. I read it twice before, in college and it my 20's and thought now as I approach what can be referred to objectively as old age I thought perhaps I had grown into this least romantic and most bitchy of Jane's works. If my problem was that I was too immature before, I must sadly report that I remain too immature despite being a member of AARP.

Don't get me wrong, there were things to admire here. Some of Austen's funniest and most cutting lines are on display, but overall I found this book to be a slog. I was perhaps more impressed with Austen's facility with language than I was when I read this before. I also suspect I may have missed some of the dry quips on first reads, and I enjoyed those. But the story bored me to tears, and the parody of horrid novels was lost on me. Also, it bothered me that I liked no one, and found no character at all interesting. That includes Henry, who I know others adore. He just felt so insubstantial to me. Ah well, I love all other Austen, it would be petty to complain about a single outlier.


Sara | 98 comments This was a re-read for me, as well, but I actually liked it more this time, probably because I had my expectations set appropriately. It still holds the #5 slot on my list of Austen's novels; flawed, but satisfying.

Most of my appreciation was for Catherine, to whom I felt more affectionate this time around. She's hopelessly naive, but she has a good heart and doesn't hold grudges. I also appreciated how Henry is kind of an odd duck among Austen's heroes. He's decidedly non-broody and is also a language geek! For me, at least, the pair are of them are charming. If he had more depth than she did, they'd feel unbalanced.

I find more issues with plot structure than characters. It almost feels like two separate novels with two different settings, with the first half poking fun at society and the second at gothic dramas. The ultimate "crisis" that brings the halves together is pretty mild, and Catherine herself doesn't have much of a hand in resolving it, being faultless in respect to it throughout. And the whole thing runs out of steam at the end.

Regarding the parody of contemporary novels, I agree it's tough for modern readers to catch the full sense of it, but we can draw analogies: bad romances, rom-com tropes, horror cliches, etc. That said, I think one of the points the book makes is that being judgmental about novels and the people who read them isn't worth anyone's time, that it's not fair to bucket genres as being "for" only one group/gender, and that if a work gives someone pleasure, it has value. I like that sentiment.


Alicia | 331 comments I'm still slogging my way through my re-read. I remember enjoying it a lot when I read it before, but now it just pisses me off. It reads like all the annoying opinion pieces that shit all over teenage girls' enthusiasm for pop music or youtube stars or whatever. So mean-spirited.

And I didn't remember the Bath section lasting so long!


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
l also meant to mention the fact that most Austen is truly timeless while also being very much of their time. Class immobilty, worship of wealth and position, the artificial limitations on women, the value of integrity, the appeal of a really great house 😉. This though read to me really outdated. There was nothing that felt relevant. Now many people don't mind that at all, and enjoy reading things that are of their long past moment, but it has never worked for me. Tjis is reflective of my taste, not quality.


H.J. Moat (hjmoat) | 21 comments Northanger Abbey is my 3rd favourite Austen (if we're just counting the main novels, Lady Susan is so extra as well, what a woman) after P&P and Persuasion. I genuinely do think it's hilarious, but also that you can't read it in the same way as her other books - the way she narrates this is so different than the way she narrates something like Persuasion. There's so much more detachment between her and the characters and I love how snarky she is about them, it reminds me of Gossip Girl in a weird way. You're supposed to think Catherine is a dumb ass (a nice dumb ass, I think she's a sweetheart), whereas someone like Anne Elliot or Lizzie Bennett is written much more sincerely and closer to the author herself. It just shows how amazing and versatile a writer Jane was.
Also John and Isabella Thorpe are brilliant creations, I don't think any Austen character makes me as annoyed as John Thorpe (except maybe that damp flannel Edmund Bertram), he is so beautifully, detestably written. And Isabella is just awful but she does make me laugh. Henry Tilney doesn't really do it for me but since the whole thing is such a satire I don't really feel disappointed by that, he's not supposed to make us weak at the knees in the way Darcy or Wentworth are.
Also, I went to Bath in July and traipsed around every location either lived in by Jane or written about in her novels so Persuasion and Northanger will always have that extra affection for me now!


Sara | 98 comments H.J. wrote: "Also, I went to Bath in July and traipsed around every location either lived in by Jane or written about in her novels so Persuasion and Northanger will always have that extra affection for me now! "

It's fun to re-read them with a real image of Bath in your head!

Agreed about John Thorpe. What a tool.


Michelle | 38 comments H.J. wrote: "Northanger Abbey is my 3rd favourite Austen (if we're just counting the main novels, Lady Susan is so extra as well, what a woman) after P&P and Persuasion. I genuinely do think it's hilarious, but..."

So "that damp flannel Edmund Bertram" is probably my favourite thing I've read on the internet lately.

I ADORE Northanger Abbey - probably because I see a LOT of young me in Catherine. :) And I love the film version of it with JJ Field and Felicity Jones. It's just so tongue-in-cheek, and as an editor I really appreciate the lampooning of silly tropes. Pride & Prejudice is probably my favourite Austen...but Northanger comes a very, very close second.

And then there's this meme:
https://northangerclassroom.files.wor...


H.J. Moat (hjmoat) | 21 comments Michelle wrote: "H.J. wrote: "Northanger Abbey is my 3rd favourite Austen (if we're just counting the main novels, Lady Susan is so extra as well, what a woman) after P&P and Persuasion. I genuinely do think it's h..."

I think you've got it so right about why Catherine is very likeable - reading her can be a bit like looking fondly on your teenage years and every so often wanting to face palm because of how differently you see things, would react to things now...

The Felicity Jones Northanger is I think one of the best Austen adaptations - I actually downloaded it on Amazon a couple of months ago and it's so engaging but I do think Carey Mulligan is a bit miscast as Isabella. Isabella is a self-serving idiot who thinks she's cleverer than she is and I don't think Carey Mulligan sells that.
Also the post-coital scene is a bit insulting to the viewers intelligence but other than that it's marvellous!


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "H.J. wrote: "Northanger Abbey is my 3rd favourite Austen (if we're just counting the main novels, Lady Susan is so extra as well, what a woman) after P&P and Persuasion. I genuinely do think it's h..."

That meme is AH-mazing.


Alicia | 331 comments I'd totally forgotten the undying romance of Henry liking Catherine because Catherine liked him.


Alicia | 331 comments https://www.1843magazine.com/features... A Pakistani friend shared with me this article about the Jane Austen society of Pakistan, which I thought was interesting.


message 12: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel Aitchison | 8 comments I hadn't read Northanger Abbey before and really enjoyed the first part and could imagine what it was like back then but then kind of skipped through the second part. I made the mistake of watching an old ITV movie of it and it was hilariously bad.


Alicia | 331 comments There's a TV adaptation that I saw years ago, very late one night, totally surreal. The bits where they are promenading around the rooms in Bath... they were actually in the baths. Walking around in chest deep water with like a cigarette girl tray around their necks.

I have occasionally wondered if I was hallucinating.


message 14: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel Aitchison | 8 comments Alicia wrote: "There's a TV adaptation that I saw years ago, very late one night, totally surreal. The bits where they are promenading around the rooms in Bath... they were actually in the baths. Walking around i..."

Oh you weren't hallucinating, the whole thing was totally weird. I wondered whether those trays had food on them, which to be fair would be kinda handy!


Michelle | 38 comments I remember that old film too, so I did a bit of googling and found this:
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.co...


Alicia | 331 comments Michelle wrote: "I remember that old film too, so I did a bit of googling and found this:
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.co..."


Thanks! That's amazing.


Alicia (thebeeka) | 42 comments Alicia wrote: "https://www.1843magazine.com/features... A Pakistani friend shared with me this article about the Jane Austen society of Pakistan, which I thought was interesting."

I found this article fascinating, fellow Alicia.

This was my third time reading Northanger Abbey and I, too, found it a bit of a slog. I have only read this and P&P so I'm inspired to read the rest of my Complete Novels of Jane Austen and watch some of the adaptations I've missed.

I saw the JJ Feild adaptation before I crushed on him in Austenland so I'm going to watch that one again.


Alicia | 331 comments Try Sense & Sensibility next - the movie version with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson is excellent.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "Alicia wrote: "https://www.1843magazine.com/features... A Pakistani friend shared with me this article about the Jane Austen society of Pakistan, which I thought was interesting."

I found..."

P&P is my favorite (I know it is a cliche) but I love Emma almost as much. The wordplay in Emma is just fantastic. Emma herself is far less charming than Lizzy, but also far more real. She has a rich girl smugness, and meanness that feels very modern. She is a schemer, more well put together than beautiful, more clever than intelligent. And she is perfectly drawn. And for all that I still like her. I also love Persuasion a great deal, though it is slower and less humorous than most of the others.


message 20: by Sara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara | 98 comments Alicia wrote: "Try Sense & Sensibility next - the movie version with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson is excellent."

Indeed, I just watched it again last weekend. I think it improves on the book in some ways.


Alicia | 331 comments Sara wrote: "Indeed, I just watched it again last weekend. I think it improves on the book in some ways. ..."

For me the big improvement is that Alan Rickman is, as always, charismatic and wonderful, so you actually believe that Marianne would end up in love with him. Which I never quite got in the book.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "Sara wrote: "Indeed, I just watched it again last weekend. I think it improves on the book in some ways. ..."

For me the big improvement is that Alan Rickman is, as always, charismatic and wonderf..."


I totally agree with this. Rickman made me fall in love with him in many roles where that was hard to do, but never more than as Colonel Brandon. Also, all respect to Rickman, I think Emma Thompson wrote the character a hair better in the film than (blasphemy! I know.) Jane Austen did on the page. That said, I thought Elinor and Edward's story was much more fully fleshed out in the book and I always thought that people who had not read the book would not understand why Edward behaved as he did in the film. I preferred the read, but really loved the movie too.


message 23: by Katie (last edited Nov 11, 2017 09:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katie (faintingviolet) | 88 comments Bonnie wrote: "I love Jane Austen as much as the next reader, but Norhtanger Abbey never appealed to me. I read it twice before, in college and it my 20's and thought now as I approach what can be referred to obj..."

I also found the original a bit of a slog when I read it four years ago, but this time I listened to the audible adaptation which turns it into a radio drama and found it so much more enjoyable. Pulling the narrator out from the action works SO well.

I still can't really sink into the plot itself, but the commentary on Gothic novels and their tropes that Austen worked through? That I'm here for. Probably one of my two least favorite Austen, but that was always going to be a tough list to crack.

1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Persuasion
3. Pride and Prejudice
4. Mansfield Park (really a tie with P&P)
5. Northanger Abbey
6. Emma


Katie (faintingviolet) | 88 comments H.J. wrote: "Northanger Abbey is my 3rd favourite Austen (if we're just counting the main novels, Lady Susan is so extra as well, what a woman) after P&P and Persuasion. I genuinely do think it's hilarious, but..."

I agree, Austen's authorial voice in this one is so different from her other more popular works. It seems written by a completely different person than Persuasion. I love it for very different reasons than I enjoy her other books.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Ooh! ranking Austen is aleays fun. I will.play!

Pride & Prejudice
Emma
Persuasion
Sense & Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey


Alicia | 331 comments Oh me too!

P&P
S&S
Emma
Persuasion
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey

I first read Persuasion in high school and didn't like it at all, but a re-read a couple of years ago changed my mind. Previously it would have come below Mansfield Park.


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Same for Persuasion. I found it dull when I was younger, bu I was so wrong. Anne has quiet depths.


Katie (faintingviolet) | 88 comments Yes, Persuasion skyrocketed to the number two spot following a reread last year. Thirty something year old me really fell into the nuance of the characters.


Siobhan | 14 comments I love 'Persuasion' too, it's my second favourite after 'Pride and Prejudice'. I never really got into 'Northanger Abbey', I appreciate what she was doing but I never really got into the love story as I did in her other novels.


message 30: by Suzy (new)

Suzy D. I'm reading Northanger Abbey at the moment, and really looking forward to the reference to Keynsham, because that's where I live! (I'm sure there won't be mention of the new one-way system on the High Street which is making us all very cross.)


message 31: by H.J. (new) - rated it 5 stars

H.J. Moat (hjmoat) | 21 comments Bonnie wrote: "Same for Persuasion. I found it dull when I was younger, bu I was so wrong. Anne has quiet depths."

I think through Anne, Jane really nails those 'ugh i hate my younger self' feelings so many of us experience once we hit 30!
Anne is also that literary rarity - she's a grown-up and sensible, but she's not pious or sanctimonious, you can actually imagine sinking a few wines with her.


Alicia | 331 comments Suzanne wrote: "I'm sure there won't be mention of the new one-way system on the High Street which is making us all very cross..."

Austen definitely missed a great opportunity there!


Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1278 comments Mod
Well daid HJ. Also I am very sorry Jane did not write more about traffic control. I feel she would admirably capture the absurdity of the process and the impact on thr lives of all it touches.


message 34: by Suzy (new)

Suzy D. Catherine would certainly not enjoy quiet lodgings on Pulteney Street today - though it remains as beautiful as when Austen lodged close by, just round the corner from my workplace. I'm really enjoying the novel so far and particularly relishing making present-day comparisons with Bath society and surroundings.


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