Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jane in June: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (& Giveaway!)

 This review is part of the Jane in June event over at The Book Rat.
It also completes 1/8 books in the Jane Austen Reading Challenge!
Giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine." Under these unassuming auspices begins the tale of young Catherine's first excursion into society and its accompanying hazards. Youthful and optimistic - often to the point of naivety - Catherine leaves her rural home for Bath, England, the city of pleasure. Despite being under the care of her high society friends, the Allens, Catherine initially finds herself watching the enjoyments of the city from the sidelines, but a happy coincidence soon procures her the friendship of the young and beautiful Isabella Thorpe and the attentions of her brother John. John is too late, however; Catherine's interest has been piqued elsewhere, in the dashing form of Henry Tilney. Yet, there would be no story if the heroine rode off into the sunset without hindrance or disaster, and Catherine is on course for both. Poor Catherine's naivety quickly lead her into some sticky situations, and her own voracious appetite for all things ghastly, especially the gothic novels in vogue at the time, cultivates a propensity to see horror where there is none - but when it comes to the imposing figure of Henry's widowed father, General Tilney, perhaps Catherine's macabre suspicions have not led her entirely astray.

Northanger Abbey is not the typical Jane Austen novel. While it does feature the standard courtship plot that is Austen's forte, the true focus is on the gothic parody. Austen's wit is at its finest within the pages of this novel; her biting sarcasm and outrageous exaggeration of the gothic tropes demonstrate her mastery of the novel form, as well as her deep understanding of reader expectations. All the characters exhibit the follies of human nature that Austen is so adept at overtly highlighting and subvertly remonstrancing. While Henry Tilney is no Mr. Darcy (and really, there can only be one Darcy) he is still a complex, engaging and unique hero.  Henry's strange quirks and quips mystify young heroine Catherine while they amuse and entertain the reader. Catherine's own naivety, rather than being exasperating, is endearing as well as comical, as Austen playfully uses sharp irony to define Catherine's character. Even the most insipid characters can draw a laugh under Austen's skillful hand. The novel also supplies some hair-raising and brilliantly written scenes of supposed horror. Henry himself narrates his own version of the gothic thrills awaiting Catherine at his home, Northanger Abbey - setting up both the reader and the heroine to dread death and dastardly deeds around every corner. Austen occasionally digresses into personal diatribes in defense of the novel form, and of her decisions as an author - but it is done so well and so scathingly that it is as entertaining for the reader as the fictional plot. Northanger Abbey is, at its heart, a novel for entertainment. While, true to form, Austen does include the didactic and the critical, they are not allowed to supersede the plot and readers will walk away with the same sense of contentment and awe that Austen's writing has inspired for centuries.

Premise: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.1/5

Check out my post The Jane Austen Tour of Bath to see pictures of locations from Northanger Abbey!



To celebrate Jane in June and to give everyone a chance to read these amazing novels, I have three books to give away: Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice! (All of which I'll be reviewing during the month.)

Two books will be going to readers in the US, and one will be available for international readers!

  • You must be a follower
  • You must leave a meaningful comment on one of the Jane in June posts
  • Then just fill out one of these forms:

US readers, to enter please fill out THIS FORM!

INTERNATIONAL readers, to enter please fill out THIS FORM!

There are extra entries!

The contest will run until midnight EST on July 15th. The winners will be contacted via email and announced on the blog. They will then have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected via

*The Bookish Type accepts no responsibility for lost or damaged books.
**I reserve the right to extend or terminate this contest at any time.


Anonymous said...

This book sounds interesting. I'm not sure if its a book I want to read but I might give it a try. Great review on it, though!

lisa :) said...

Northanger Abbey is actually still on my TBR list - but I did see the movie version that PBS did recently and it was pretty good. ;) I do think that lots of people overlook Austen's humor. From subtle wit to outright satire she really was a funny writer but most people only focus on her romance, social commentary or morals. I guess part of what makes her stuff so re-readable is that she does have multiple layers as an author. Great post! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

Anonymous said...

I have never actually read anything by Jane Austen yet, but I have heard of all of the other books you mentioned. I don't remember ever hearing of Northanger Abbey, though. Thanks for the informative review. Now I need to start reading some of her books.

Natalie said...

Oh Mr. Darcy ;0) He was there before what a fun giveaway! I think we might try the reading challenge if it is not too late. Great review.

Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

This is the only book by Jane, I think I haven't read. Not for lack of trying though and I may give it another whirl as it has been years since I have tried. I did watch a BBC Adaptation of it earlier this year and actually grew to love the characters. It maybe one of those times where I needed to see them before read them! Great review!

Katie said...

I had heard that Jane's "lover's" name was in this book. I saw it in the movie Becoming Jane. I've been wanting to read this too because I've read Pride and Prejudice. It's so hard to really get into the books though because the language. :/

Misty said...

Yay!!! I am going to post about this review and contest w/i the next couple of days, and add you to the dance card. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a follower. All I have to say is wow, this book looks really unlike anything I read by her. It would be interesting to see a different side of her.

lovemybabysquid at yahoo dot com

A.Lightbourne said...

I love Jane Austen. She had such a wit and observational humor. I love all her books. She is my very favorite author, ever since I was first given her Pride and Prejudice book as a gift from my 7th grade Drama teacher.

Darlyn said...

I have not read this one yet but i plan to read it this month ;p

anaivanus said...

I plan to read this book. I don't have it, though. But it really seems interesting to read

Rachel said...

Northanger Abbey is the only Austen I do not own! I must get a copy of this. I wish I would have found out about Jane in June sooner, I would have used it as an excuse to read and re-read my Austens! :)

Hannah said...

I have read some of Jane's more famous books, but had no idea that she ever wrote anything with a gothic twist!
That is really quite intriguing, and I obviously must have not studied about Jane well enough in school!

LilMissMolly said...

This is probably my least favorite Jane novel, but it has grown on me over the years as I've read more gothic novels.

The Bookish Type said...

Thank you all for stopping by and reading! I'm glad I could bring such a great classic to your attention. It really is hilarious =) I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

@Natalie - It's never too late! We'd be glad to have you join up =)

@Katie - The language does take some getting used to. I'd read 2 or 3 of her novels before I really got the flow of it, but it's worth the effort, I promise!! =)

God's gal said...

I believe I can't help be captivated by Henry - but then, I'm bias to all men who are written by Austen. Gotta love 'em, baby. Now I'm just searching high and low for this book. Your review made me definitely want to pick it up. High ratings, too :)

k_sunshine1977 said...

this is my favorite austen novel for the gothic tinge to it, even if it is parodying...

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

I know most people rave about what a riot Northanger Abbey is, and how utterly funny it is, but somehow I didn't really fell under its spell when I first read it. Maybe I'll give it another try in a few years..

Tea said...

I marked other on the form. I really enjoyed the photos of Jane Austen in Bath. I felt like I was there. Thanks.

Neda said...

Thank you for giving away the Jane Austen books! I've never read her before, despite her obvious literary genius. I do like the sound of Pride and Prejudice though!

skyla11377 said...

Northanger Abbey does not disappoint. This is just another example of why I love miss Austen. She sure knows how to tell a story.

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