Classic Review: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey 
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Catherine Morland is on vacation in Bath with family friends, where she is befriended by the scheming Isabella Thorpe. At her very first dance, Catherine falls in love with the charming Henry Tilney and is invited to visit Northanger Abbey to keep his sister company. Catherine’s wild imagination paints the Abbey as a Gothic melodrama waiting to happen, and she sees mystery and murder in every innocent corner.

Rereading this book for the third time, I enjoyed it so much more than the first two readings; probably because I’m older and more sensitive to the wisdom and humor in Austen’s writing.

When I first read Northanger, I remember being so frustrated with Catherine Morland’s character, because she can’t see through the social facade of people like Isabella Thorpe. Of course, Catherine doesn’t have the experience yet to be able to judge people’s character very well. She assumes that other people think and feel just like herself, and she gives them the benefit of the doubt.

But now I recognize that those aspects of Catherine’s character really frustrated me, because I AM like Catherine in many ways. Imaginative, sensitive, trusting, gullible, naive, and prone to flights of fancy instead of being rooted in reality.
This time I really enjoyed seeing Catherine learn from her foolish mistakes, learn not to trust the wrong people, and grow into a mature young lady. I see a lot of parallels between her experiences and my own, right down to similar conversations with manipulative people who are always using the same emotional tactics to get what they want no matter what century they live in.

Rather than be frustrated with the characters like I was before, I found them funny this time. Rather than be bored with the slow plot, I enjoyed the minutiae and the clever lines.

Austen is always genius, but sometimes it takes you a little time to fully appreciate just how fantastic her writing is. I adore how sarcastic she is!

I think the first time I read Northanger Abbey, it just wasn’t quite the right time in my life for it. But now I enjoyed it thoroughly!

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