Review of ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey is a fun read, with well-defined characters and a strong sense of place. It’s also a defence of novel-reading (that dangerous and frivolous past-time).

The novel is fairly short, being in two volumes, instead of the usual three. It was published posthumously along with Persuasion in 1818 but it was written many years earlier, when ‘gothic novels’ were in vogue. The works of writers such as Ann Radcliffe are often referred to.

17-year-old Catherine Morland goes to Bath and learns she has to choose her friends wisely. She’s the centre of a tug-of-war between two sets of siblings: the Thorpes (Isabella and John) and the Tilneys (Eleanor and Henry). While trying to dodge the attentions of the dull and deceitful John and conversely to gain the good opinion of the attractive Henry, Catherine also allows her imagination to run wild, influenced by the conventions of gothic novels. The most unlikeable character is not John Thorne, but General Tilney, the patriarch of Northanger Abbey, home of Eleanor and Henry. He’s an unpleasant old stick, a widower who treats Catherine badly and isn’t redeemed at the end. There’s some kind of commentary about oppressive fathers going on.

It’s an amusing read which I enjoyed, although it doesn’t have the depth and maturity evidenced in Austen’s later works.

This edition is by Oxford World’s Classics (2003), edited by James Kinsley and John Davie with an introduction and notes by Claudia L Johnson. It also includes the short works Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon, which I find unreadable because the paragraphs are too enormous.

11 thoughts on “Review of ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen”

  1. I ABSOLUTELY ADORED Northanger Abbeyyy!!! THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE! Felicity Jones one?! OH MY GOD IT WAS SOO MUCH FUN TO WATCHH!!! And I AM SOOO HAPPYY THAT YOU ENJOYED IT TOOO, N! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    1. I knew you would love this one ๐Ÿ™‚ The gothic theme makes it quite different from her other books. I haven’t seen the film, or at least I don’t remember seeing it.

      1. OH PLEAASSEEE DOOO IF YOU HAVENโ€™T N! Mr Tilney is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS in that one! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

          1. OH YAYYYY!!! Hit me up when you finish watching it!! I would LOVE to know what you think!! โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜

  2. I haven’t read this yet! I have it in my library if I’m not wrong, I should definitely get to it. I’m very curious to see how it’s written, you intrigued me with ” although it doesnโ€™t have the depth and maturity evidenced in Austenโ€™s later works.”. Jane Austen is that author, for me, from whom I would read anything, even just to study it if not necessarily enjoy it ( although it seems impossible to not enjoy her work)

    1. I hope you enjoy this one when you get to it ๐Ÿ™‚ Because she wrote it early in her writing career, it has some similarities to 18th century novels which were in fashion at the time. It’s also 2 volumes instead of the usual 3.

    1. I’ve been to Bath once, but I didn’t take the opportunity to read an Austen novel at the same time!

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