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Northanger Abbey - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published February 18th 2013
Catherine Morland, a bright young girl of 17, is one of ten children of a country clergyman. She's well-mannered, pretty and yet to be 'introduced to society' – which is why, when her friendly neighbours, Mr and Mrs Allen, invite her along on their seasonal trip to Bath, Catherine is very much excited when she is permitted to go.

Whilst in Bath Catherine meets, and attaches to, the seemingly good-natured, high-spirited beauty, Isabella Thorpe, whom introduces her to the love of Gothic novels. Catherine also finds herself pursued by Isabella's brother, the rough-mannered, slovenly John Thorpe, and by her real love interest, the gentleman Henry Tilney. When Isabella begins spending more time with Catherine's brother James, Catherine develops a deeper friendship with the reserved Eleanor Tilney, Henry's younger sister. When Catherine is invited to visit the Tilneys' estate, Northanger Abbey, she expects it to be just like her Gothic novels – dark, brooding and full of mystery.

Northanger Abbey (1817) Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey (1817) Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen was first published in late December, 1817 (1818 given on the title page), after Austen's death in July 1817. Both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously, but Northanger Abbey is actually believed to be Austen's earliest completed work. At the time of Northanger Abbey's completion, Austen had already started writing Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), the first two of her manuscripts to be published and arguably her most famous works.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics – her works are 'classics'. Austen herself was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

I enjoy reading classic novels and I enjoy Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey was no exception. Although Catherine isn't fiery and unconventional like Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, 1813), timid and patient like Anne Elliot (Persuasion, 1817) or overly spoiled and self-satisfied like Emma Woodhouse (Emma, 1815), she is a gentle and lovable character/heroine in her own right. The pace of the story is gradual and built upon, allowing readers to come to conclusions in good time – a trait evident in all of Austen's works. If you enjoy classic novels, the works of Jane Austen or you'd just like to try something new, I recommend reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Northanger Abbey (1817) Jane Austen
My personal copy of Northanger Abbey (1817) by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's published novels:
• Sense and Sensibility (1811)
• Pride and Prejudice (1813)
• Mansfield Park (1814)
• Emma (1815)
• Northanger Abbey (1817, posthumous)
• Persuasion (1817, posthumous)
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Why? Because you'd like to read a classic novel.
When: Now.
Where: In the comfort of your own home.
Cost: $9.95 on QBD online
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