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Northanger Abbey
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Jane Austen Collection > Northanger Abbey Discusion: SPOILERS

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Trisha | 492 comments Post your comments for "Northanger Abbey" here :-). I've not read this one yet, so I'm very curious to see what its about!


Jenny (jennyc89) I'm only a chapter in but I like what I see of the main character Catherine so far.


message 3: by Mo (last edited Nov 13, 2011 11:54PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mo | 53 comments I just started it this morning and am already enjoying Austen's voice.


Megan I am so glad I am in this group just because it got me to read this book! I loved every word of it. It was funny, the characters were like-able, and I especially loved how positive they all were even though a bit silly, always having good things to say about everyone and their fashions. It was easy to relate to Catherine, remembering how my mind worked when I was in high school. The last sentence caught me off guard because it changed the way I thought of the book, but in a good way.


Trisha | 492 comments How would you compare Austen to Bronte in regards to writing style? This title certainly sounds lighter than, for example, Wuthering Heights"?


Megan I've never been able to get into Bronte enough to read more than a few pages of anything, although I'm considering reading Jane Eyre after what friends have told me about it. I wouldn't be able to make a fair comparison. It is a light tone, though, which is nice, like eating sorbet instead of ice cream, though both are nice.


message 7: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
Trisha wrote: "How would you compare Austen to Bronte in regards to writing style? This title certainly sounds lighter than, for example, Wuthering Heights"?"

Bronte’s characters in Wuthering Heights to me were sharp and aggressive. While Austen’s characters is Northanger Abbey were rounder more gentle in nature.


Jediraven | 12 comments Trisha wrote: "Post your comments for "Northanger Abbey" here :-). I've not read this one yet, so I'm very curious to see what its about!"

I like Jane Austen, I find her very sarcastic and witty, and have read all of her books. Northanger Abbey disappointed me. I read the introduction saying that it just sat as a manuscript somewhere for years unpublished, and now I know why. It seems unfinished. It just kind of...ends.


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Kat (superkatness) | 162 comments I have three things to say about Northanger Abbey:

First, I agree that it shouldn't be the first Jane Austen book you read because it is an unpolished draft. It's my sixth Austen book, so from the style of her other works I can see the places she would rearrange events and alter the text (such as introducing Miss Tilney's beau at an earlier point).

Second, I liked some of the characters more than her other books because they're so familiar. Everyone knows someone like Miss Thorpe-the insufferably self-absorbed, men-chasing, mercilessly flirtatious material girl.

And finally, Northanger Abbey made me want to read "The Mysteries of Udolpho". A book that makes the reader want to read more books? Fantastic!


Richard Katrina wrote: "I have three things to say about Northanger Abbey:

First, I agree that it shouldn't be the first Jane Austen book you read because it is an unpolished draft. It's my sixth Austen book, so from t..."


Katrina - you made very good points. I also think Northanger Abbey is good to read if you already know you like Austen and want to learn more about how her style developed. It was one of the first books she wrote, though it was not published until much later. I also am now curious about the Udolpho book.

I did enjoy reading Jane Eyre, but I find Austen much more "modern" to me in her direct, practical sensibility amidst the drawing-room drama.


Jenny (jennyc89) I couldn't get enough of Northanger Abbey. It made me want to read more Austen and more of the genre in general. It didn't feel unfinished but it did seem simpler than her other works.


message 12: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
I am happy to hear that this is not Austen’s best work. This guarantees my enjoyment when I read her other works. The reason I know this is because I thought Northanger Abbey was good stuff, I liked it. I read for fun and pleasure and this book had both. I will try to read another Austen book this next year.


Terri (terrilovescrows) | 39 comments This is my favorite of her books - maybe because it is such fun biting at the gothic novels of the time. It is over the top in a good way


message 14: by Cleo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 129 comments I had a hard time with Northanger Abbey when I first read it until I found out that it was supposed to be a parody of the then-current Gothic fiction. When I read it with that in mind, I enjoyed it much more. It's also her first novel and, as I think Kat mentioned, not as polished as her future writing. I'd love to read The Mysteries of Udolpho too! :-)


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Katy (kathy_h) | 9431 comments Mod
Re-Read for December 2013. Spoilers okay in this thread.


Daisy (bellisperennis) Kat wrote: Northanger Abbey made me want to read "The Mysteries of Udolpho". A book that makes the reader want to read more books? Fantastic!

After I read, and because of, Northanger Abbey I read The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. The "The Mysteries of Udolpho" inspired me to read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and explore gothic fiction.

Thank you Jane Austin!


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Katy (kathy_h) | 9431 comments Mod
Daisy, what a fun reading thread you had.


Daisy (bellisperennis) Kathy, Yeah, it really was.


message 19: by MK (new) - rated it 3 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Cleo, I didn't realize the book was supposed to be a parody of the novels of the time. Not sure if you still post in the group, but if you do - thanks :-). I'm 17% of the way in, knowing that might help me as I read the rest.


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

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments The discussion here inspired me to go clicking around. Wiki had an interesting bit, in the Gothic fiction article. Seems Austen' s "Northanger Abbey' s" discussion of then-contemporary novels has inspired slot of interest, over the many years since publication. At first, many titles were thought to be from Austen' s imagination. Research revealed them to be actual published novels. Collectively, they're known as the Northanger Horrid Novels. I excerpted a bit from the wiki, below. I also learned that spending time reading novels was indeed looked at disparaging, in Austen' s time, just as the annoying brother of Isabella, in the story, disparaging commented on the idea of reading novels, when Catherine asked him about them.


"Parody[edit]

The excesses, stereotypes, and frequent absurdities of the traditional Gothic made it rich territory for satire.[34] The most famous parody of the Gothic is Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey (1818) in which the naive protagonist, after reading too much Gothic fiction, conceives herself a heroine of a Radcliffian romance and imagines murder and villainy on every side, though the truth turns out to be much more prosaic. Jane Austen's novel is valuable for including a list of early Gothic works since known as the Northanger Horrid Novels. These books, with their lurid titles, were once thought to be the creations of Jane Austen's imagination, though later research by Michael Sadleir and Montague Summers confirmed that they did actually exist and stimulated renewed interest in the Gothic. They are currently all being reprinted.[35]…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_r... "


message 21: by MK (new) - rated it 3 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Finished it last night. Gotta say, I do like Jane Austen' s wit. I had a hard time caring about the subject matter though. Looking at it through the lens of parody helped, though. Maybe Austen was also bored silly by the trivialities that occupied her days, and was skewering that, in addition to the gothic fiction of the day.

Now on to Brave New World :)


message 22: by Mae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mae (melissa5626) | 53 comments Finished it last night...well kind of. My nook died from lack of power 3 pages from the end. THREE! I should have plugged it in earlier but I was reading Northanger Abbey for most of the day.
This is defiantly not her best book but its still good and gave me memories of the others I read (Emma and Pride and Prejudice).
Also, I was wondering forever what the pump room was...well:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Pu...

My favorite Jane Austen by far is Emma. As for the Brontes, the only book of theirs I was able to get through was Jane Eyre. I like Austen's style more.


message 23: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 9431 comments Mod
Hey thanks to all for reading the book! I've been reading other things this month. Glad to see the conversation still alive. And I am intrigued by the book -- maybe if I get all others finished this month.


message 24: by MK (last edited Jun 05, 2014 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Tytti and Melanti are carrying on a delightful conversation about the book here - https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

in case in the future, anyone becomes interested in the book and might like to read their posts, too :D


Melanti | 2384 comments This book was so much fun! I'd known going into it that this was considered her one "Gothic" novel, but I didn't realize that it was actually more of a parody until I started reading it. Austen had me laughing from the very first paragraph.

I think the more familiar you are with Gothic literature (especially the older lit) the funnier this book is since you'll "get" more of the jokes. I really wish I'd already read The Mysteries of Udolpho though, because it's possible I missed some specific references there, and that makes me a bit sad.

But even without it, it's still hilarious. I loved how Catherine's imagination continually ran away with her - only to be met with something completely prosaic. The Japanese cabinet, especially, was my favorite portion... All the build up - Catherine being so terrified she hid under her covers - and the let-down the next morning. It had me laughing out loud! Then later how the narrator referenced it as "one of her most alarming adventures." Sooo funny.


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I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. The fact that Jane Austen as the narrator was poking fun at her Gothic heroine Catherine made it all the better!


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) I read this one in school, but need to try it again. I seem to remember the Gothic element being made fun of as rather amusing.


message 28: by Alia (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alia | 228 comments It seems like the most directionless Austen novel I've read. It's just as if Catherine never even thinks about the future, where due to being born female in Regency England she would have to be married to have any status, unless she was planning to be a novelist.

I read somewhere that Austen's books were supposed to be didactic, and I think this one is overly so. The romance seems a bit tacked on. Maybe it's supposed to be Catherine's reward for being so pure (or daft) that she doesn't even realize she's surrounded by unlikable people. With a couple of exceptions they all want to use her.


Tahera | 52 comments I am currently reading this and although it's very clear that it is not up to the par of her later works, it really is witty--Jane Austen style!


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Noura Alsuwaidi | 7 comments I read this story long ago, I think it has some humor in it because it's written to readers about the delusions that arise from being too invested in the gothic horror genre, which was very popular in that time. It's a great book, I think it's the one that made me love classics because after I read that I picked up "Jane Eyre" so I'm really grateful for having read it. Catherine is an endearing yet silly character but I think that it's only because she's really young, and so is Henry. I believe she's silly for the obvious reason, the fact that she accuses the father of murdering his wife, but I think Henry is a silly character for a particular quote in the novel, where it says that he only married Catherine because she was "partial" to him. It shows that both of the characters are young and dumb, but I think Austen does this on purpose because the writing is very self aware. I think Austen was just exploring the idea of being carried away by stories.


message 31: by Noura (new)

Noura Alsuwaidi | 7 comments Alia wrote: "It seems like the most directionless Austen novel I've read. It's just as if Catherine never even thinks about the future, where due to being born female in Regency England she would have to be mar..."

I agree, but I think Austen was smart. I believe she did it on purpose. For one thing, her writing is incredibly self aware, both in dealing with Catherine and Henry. There's even a part towards the end where it says that Henry only married Catherine because she was "partial" to him. Which I believe shows that even Jane Austen didn't think that they're a smart match. I think the book is just exploring a particular idea by allowing itself to be carried away.


message 32: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 285 comments Noura wrote: "Which I believe shows that even Jane Austen didn't think that they're a smart match...."

Someone* once remarked that we know how that marriage went: they seem to have changed their names and place of residence, so we meet them as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice."

*I've seen it quoted in several places, but not, so far as I can remember, with an attribution.


message 33: by Noura (new)

Noura Alsuwaidi | 7 comments Ian wrote: "Noura wrote: "Which I believe shows that even Jane Austen didn't think that they're a smart match...."

Someone* once remarked that we know how that marriage went: they seem to have changed their n..."


That's a really interesting concept, but I'd be lying if I said it made sense. Elizabeth is a lot more strong willed than Catherine is and their interests vary. I guess in my head the two stories don't really resemble each other, but it is interesting to think of.


message 34: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 285 comments Noura wrote: "That's a really interesting concept, but I'd be lying if I said it made sense....."

The main point of the observation is that Mrs. Bennett was (we are told fairly explicitly), like Catherine, an attractive young girl. But her husband found eventually found her to be all-too-impressionable, superficial, and not very bright.

The critic, whoever it was, was being unfair to Catherine, who does seem to have the ability learn better. But Henry's motive for marrying her does seem to fit Mr. Bennett.

Once this is pointed out, one can wonder if Jane Austen had been rethinking the whole relationship of a naive girl and a more mature young man, while the publisher was failing to release the original 1803 version (as "Susan"), and dramatized some of her later reflections in "First Impressions" (alias "Pride & Prejudice").

Mr. Bennett's warning to Elizabeth not to marry someone she can't respect sounds like a sad commentary on the course of his life.

Even if Jane Austen was rethinking the "happy ending," of the earlier book (of which I'm not quite convinced), she presented a marriage strained by a succession of girls, instead of the son needed to secure possession of the estate in the next generation, a situation which of course is irrelevant to the direct comparison.


message 35: by Noura (last edited Feb 01, 2020 06:46AM) (new)

Noura Alsuwaidi | 7 comments Ian wrote: "Noura wrote: "That's a really interesting concept, but I'd be lying if I said it made sense....."

The main point of the observation is that Mrs. Bennett was (we are told fairly explicitly), like C..."


Maybe the characters are similar, but I guess I personally can't see it that way, although I feel like I care about those characters more now. I never gave much thought to Mrs. and Mr. Bennet before.


message 36: by Ian (last edited Feb 06, 2020 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 285 comments Since I assume that everyone following this thread is pretty interested in Jane Austen, I thought I would post here a link that came up in my Pocket feed yesterday. Feel free to post it elsewhere -- I don't know if there are any other current Jane Austen discussions, and, personally, I'd rather not resurrect an old one.

The article is "Jane Austen, Gritty Educational Reformer of the Working Class," by Janine Barchas, which appeared in
Literary Hub, for February 4, 2020

https://lithub.com/jane-austen-gritty...

It concerns the little-known cheap editions that circulated in late Victorian Britain, and through to the Depression-era United States. These are not covered in the standard bibliographic studies, and might never have existed for all the "Reception" studies of her works acknowledge them, and their mass audience. Surprisingly few copies still exist, given print runs that may have (cumulatively) produced a hundred thousand copies. (Or not so surprising, given the wretched paper they were printed on.)


message 37: by Lynn, Revisit the Shelf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn (lynnsreads) | 3058 comments Mod
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the August 2020 Revisit the Shelf book.


Jessalyn  | 7 comments Just finished this book for the first time. I am a Jane Austen fan but I tend to stick with my favorites- Sense and Sensibility, Persuassion, Pride and Prejudice. I am sad that I have waited so long to read Northanger Abbey. Even though the novel itself is not one of Austen's best, I found this book full of wit and humor. I love how Austen makes a statement about society around her that is funny and barbed at the same time.


Maggie | 125 comments Finished this a few days ago. I've read three other Jane Austen books (P&P, Persuasion, Mansfield Park) and Northanger Abbey is the first that I liked. It's a little bumpy, but I liked the tongue-in-cheek descriptions of the hypocrisies and self-centredness of characters like Isabella and Mrs Allen, and the section that parodied Gothic novels was hilarious. Catherine is totally kooky, but thankfully for her and for Henry she does lose some of her gullibility and gain maturity as the book progresses.


message 40: by Lynn, Revisit the Shelf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn (lynnsreads) | 3058 comments Mod
Maggie wrote: "Finished this a few days ago. I've read three other Jane Austen books (P&P, Persuasion, Mansfield Park) and Northanger Abbey is the first that I liked. It's a little bumpy, but I liked the tongue-i..."

Nice perspective Maggie.


Jessalyn  | 7 comments Maggie wrote: "Finished this a few days ago. I've read three other Jane Austen books (P&P, Persuasion, Mansfield Park) and Northanger Abbey is the first that I liked. It's a little bumpy, but I liked the tongue-i..."

I agree! It is the parody of the Gothic novel that make this book so funny. I like the almost breathless teenage angst- for 1800's England- and how Austen makes it clear that Catherine is just an ordinary young lady, who doesn't 'work as hard at her schooling as she should'.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 273 comments Maggie wrote: "Finished this a few days ago. I've read three other Jane Austen books (P&P, Persuasion, Mansfield Park) and Northanger Abbey is the first that I liked. It's a little bumpy, but I liked the tongue-i..."

This gives me some hope as I did not enjoy P&P or Emma.


message 43: by Cynda (last edited Aug 09, 2020 03:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cynda | 2762 comments As I am rereading The Mysteries of Udolpho, I am spending some time studying some of the details of the castle--locks, passages, rooms where death and spookiness prevail. I am also revisiting Catherine Moreland--not yet rereading--remembering how funny I found Catherine's active imagination when she visits at Northanger Abbey. . . .and. . . .I am considering the consequences of Catherine's poor education, remembering all the comments about women's education that the various narrators of the novels make. . . .


Nente | 779 comments I wouldn't say this is my Austen favourite, but strangely enough it's always first to be reread whenever I've been especially down. The easiest to get into, perhaps?

Also, I see the group is brilliantly pairing this up with Udolpho, kudos to whoever's idea this was.


Cynda | 2762 comments Yeah, I forgot who nominated this book, but I am glad that they did as both The Mysteries of Udolpho and Northanger Abbey are on my Old &New list this year.


message 46: by Cynda (last edited Aug 22, 2020 12:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cynda | 2762 comments Here may be the sentence in that The Mysteries of Udolpho Austen may have based the what happens at her friends' home Northanger Abbey:
(view spoiler)
(This sentence sounds a little off to me. I will check it with Gutenberg or some other online source tomorrow.)

. . . .While this is a spoiler thread for Northanger Abbey, this is not a spoiler thread for Mysteries of Udolpho which this group is also reading this month. So I spoiler tag this quote from Udoloho, one that foreshadows what will happen in Volume 4 of Udolpho.


message 47: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Smith | 4 comments The ending wasn’t terribly surprising, but I liked the twists and turns. I always enjoy Austen’s characters because they are all somewhat flawed, like real people.


Cynda | 2762 comments Jordan, as I am rereading about the heroine of Northanger Abbey, I also begin to reconsider the heroine of Emma. I am feeling to the need to reread Emma as a point of comparison of education and worldliness.


Heather L  (wordtrix) | 255 comments I was determined to finish this before I went to bed Thursday night, and next thing I knew it was 2:30 am Friday. Good thing I didn’t have to be up before 9. 🙄

This was a third reading for me and I remembered the plot/events fairly well. I still think John Thorpe an ass and his sister, Isabella, conceited and disingenuous. The one thing that struck me more this time around is how abrupt The ending is, from the time General Tilney turns Catherine out without reason or civility to the ultimate conclusion.

Which brought up many questions. Why was a man of his supposed stature willing to believe the word of someone he did not know, both in first inquiring as to who Catherine was and then at the end? Why didn’t he make further inquiries into all three families—the Morlands, Allens and Thorpes? Would his opinion of the Thorpes and Morlands have been different had he known that his son, Captain Tilney, had being instrumental in dissolving the engagement between James Morland and Isabella Thorpe? Would knowing Isabella had broken off engagements each time a richer and more titled man came her way have swayed his opinion of the two families? That alone shows a vast difference in character between the Thorpes and Morlands.

Despite the ending, it’s still one of my favorite Austens. In fact, the only one I’ve disliked and had trouble finishing is Emma. one of my favorite quotes comes from this novel, spoken by Henry Tilney:

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”


Cynda | 2762 comments I like that quote too Heather.


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