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Book of the Week #41 "Northanger Abbey"



by Jane Austen

Catherine Morland grew up as a very plain and ordinary girl. Though by the time she turned seventeen, she had grown fond books, and in the right circumstances, would be considered pretty. The heroine in training goes to Bath to spend time with family friends, the Allens. She attends balls with the superficial Mrs. Allen, and on one such occasion, meets the witty reverend, Henry Tilney. While in Bath, she also meets John Thorpe, and his sister, Isabella. John tries to woo Catherine each chance he gets, but comes off as insensitive and manipulative, while Isabella befriends Catherine, claiming her to be the dearest friend she has, though the reader comes to question her motives. Catherine finds herself falling for Henry Tilney, as he jokes with her, and the two discuss books. Mr. Tilney, along with his father (General Tilney) and sister (Eleanor Tilney) lives in an old abbey named Northanger Abbey. When invited to come and stay at the abbey for a while, Catherine leaps at the chance, enchanted not only by the thought of staying in an old Gothic home, such as fills the novels she so loves, but also by the thought of spending more time with Henry. Though Henry, being a tease, and knowing how much Catherine loves Gothic novels, fills her head with stories about his father and the abbey that she takes to heart. She soon makes statements that very well could put the relationship she so desperately desires at stake.

Amber hosted a read-along in March of this lovely Austen novel. I had skipped around in it last year, but didn't remember a whole lot about it. When I read it this time, I really enjoyed it. Reading this book in a group pushed me to delve deeper into the book and really take the time to read it. I enjoyed it much more than last time and it really made me want to read everything Jane Austen has written. The only other novel of her's I've read is Pride and Prejudice, so I have my work cut out for me, but I look forward to getting to more classics.

One can't help but like Catherine Morland. She's described as plain and nothing terribly special; quite different than the other Austen heroines I've known. In these ways, she is more relatable to a wider range of readers than some more ideal heroines. But she's also quite gullible. It seems like it takes forever for her to realize that the Thorpes are up to no good, when we could smell it the second they came on the scene. And she quickly falls prey to Henry's good-natured teasing, taking it too seriously and throwing around some pretty big accusations. Sometimes you feel frustrated with her, but mostly, you pity her and want to help lead her in the right direction. And who doesn't relate to her fascination with abbeys and castles? I know I would certainly love to visit some of the places Catherine goes to in the book, though I must agree that the cottage in Woodston would be a much more comfortable abode to actually live in. And Henry Tilney is a very different kind of Austen hero. He isn't brooding like Mr. Darcy; he's witty and playful and comes off as a bit quirky, which you wouldn't expect from a 19th century reverend, but thank heavens he isn't like Mr. Collins! In the beginning, I wondered if he might be too teasing, and it's true; sometimes his teasing goes a bit too far. But there are those serious moments, like when he's talking to Catherine about novels, that round him out make you like him.

I also want to mention how much fun I had with this read-along. I made some good friends (waves to Julie, Grace, and Kara!) and just had a nice time reading this book. Amber is a great host and came up with very interesting and thought provoking discussion questions that were fun to answer. I'm very much looking forward to more read-alongs, both of Jane Austen's other novels, as well as titles by other authors.

All in all, Northanger Abbey is an enjoyable read. It's different from Jane Austen's other books, but good all the same.


I give this book a 4 out of 5.

10 comments

  1. Love this post! It was a fun month discussing this book! I love classics and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of all time. It would be fun to re-read and discuss that one someday :) Henry certainly isn't Mr. Darcy, but he definitely has his own qualities to admire. I still keep forgetting that he was a pastor! So I liked your take on his being much more fun-loving than the pastor's of the day :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Julie! I agree; it was a lot of fun discussing this book last month. Haha! Yep, it's easy to forget that the teasing Tilney was a pastor.

      A Pride and Prejudice read-along would be awesome! I would love to do that sometime.

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  2. Honestly, I can't even recall if I've ever read a novel my Jane Austen, which is kinds of scary to admit as I do like reading the classics.

    Thank you for your review of Northanger Abbey... I'll have to add it to my ever growing reading wishlist.

    And, yes, read-a-longs are a lot of fun! I've participated in a couple of them.

    Btw, I'm a new follower to your blog and I like your blog a lot. I have nominated you for The Gemstone Book Tag. Check out my blog post for more details! Thanks! http://captivatedreader.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-birthstone-book-tag.html

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    1. I think Northanger Abbey would be a good first Austen novel. :) It's pretty different from her other books, but it is really good.

      Thank you so much for tagging me! I'm really looking forward to writing this post and am going to start work on it ASAP!

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    2. Looking forward to reading your post when you have the time to complete it.

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    3. P. S. I was on Bustle's website today and saw an article titled "17 'Northanger Abbey' Quotes For Book-Lovers" that you may enjoy reading!

      http://www.bustle.com/articles/154307-17-quotes-from-jane-austens-northanger-abbey-that-will-make-you-proud-to-be-a-book-lover

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    4. That's awesome! Thank you for sharing. :)

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  3. Thanks for the shoutout! I've enjoyed chatting with you as well. :) I still haven't finished this yet. *hangs head in shame* I WANT to, I've enjoyed the story a great deal! I just haven't been reading much at all recently, not sure why I haven't felt like it. Hopefully will get back into it soon!

    But I definitely agree that it's a wonderful story. I like Catherine, and Henry Tilney? Oh my, I do love that man! He's so very different from Austen's other heroes, but that seems to make me love him more. He's just so likeable! :)

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    1. You're welcome, Kara! It was a fun read-along. I have a feeling you'll very much enjoy the ending! ;) Mr. Tilney is a delightful hero. Very playful and nice contrast to Austen's other heroes. By the end of the booked, I had grown to love Mr. Tilney!

      Thanks for stopping by, Kara! :)

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