Long before I was bitten by the “English teacher” bug, I have adored (like most literary females) Jane Austen books. Through an Austen-obsessed high school experience, and a “just for fun” literature class on the authoress in college, I have read every published Austen work except for Northanger Abbey. I’d put off reading it for as long as I could, thrilling at the idea that there was still more Austen in the world yet to be discovered, but my curiosity won out this summer when I stumbled upon a copy at my local library. I all too happily accepted the discovery as fate, thinking it fitting that I be well versed in every work of Austen before beginning my master’s program.
It’s a little difficult to review something written by a literary giant like Jane Austen. What could I possibly say other than it was terrific, I loved it, and I’m pretty sure Austen is the novelist version of an 1800’s Tina Fey (smart, subtle, and funny – the total package)? What I will say is this: Northanger Abbey is completely different than any of Austen’s works. A parody of the popular gothic novels of the time, the heroine is Catherine Morland, and she’s rather stupid, which makes for several funny points throughout the novel. The naiveté of the heroine make the happy ending of her story much less passionate than other Austen works, and thus slightly less satisfying to a reader. But the different kind of subtle humor that Austen is such a master at is refreshing and unique. I haven’t read a lot of gothic novels yet (and I’m about to be an English teacher – horrid, I know) but it inspired me to read some, which is always positive!
Overall, Northanger Abbey is an enjoyable read, and a must have for any Austen fan who’s yet to gobble up everything she has to offer. It isn’t as funny as Emma, or as popular as Pride and Prejudice, or as romantic as the lesser-known Persuasion, which is my personal favorite. But it’s diverting, it’s Jane Austen, and it’s most definitely worth 4 stars!
P.S. A hot tip for my fellow e-reader owners – because Northanger Abbey was published before 1920, with a little hunting, you can find it free on Amazon for the kindle! However, I prefer to read older books in print, especially if they have footnotes, so if you’re the same, this title is usually readily available at any library!