One of my goals this year is to read the remaining five Jane Austen novels on my 1001 list. I already read Pride and Prejudice when I first started the project. Austen is one of my favorite authors. I have a hard time remembering which of her books I’ve read or what adaptations I’ve watched. Even though I’m familiar with all of the stories I still love them. Except for Northanger Abbey. I don’t mean that I hated it. I mean I hadn’t heard too much about it. And to my knowledge I’ve never seen a movie based on the novel. When I sat down to read it, I was pretty much a blank slate.
This book was published after her death, but it was the first novel completed for publication. I enjoy reading an author’s work in order so I can trace their progress. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a nerd. I can’t do this with every author since so many are prolific. I have a copy of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 on my desk and I know I won’t have the patience to read all of his novels beforehand. I don’t even know how many that would be. 20-30 maybe. More?
Back to Austen and Northanger Abbey. Catherine Morland, is a simple girl who is on holiday in Bath. She meets a handsome clergyman, Henry Tilney, and falls in love. Henry’s father is informed that Catherine is wealthy and he wants his son to marry her. The father invites Catherine to stay at Northanger Abbey. Catherine, an avid reader of gothic romances, gets swept away by her imagination whilst staying at the abbey. She starts to believe that Henry’s father murdered his wife. Yikes! What will become of Catherine? And how will Henry’s father react when he learns that Catherine is not rich?
This novel is not my favorite Austen. It’s an entertaining read. Like her other works, it’s full of wit and humorous situations. But, for me, it pales in comparison to Pride and Prejudice. This may not be fair since Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite novels. Not many authors can write one masterpiece after another. I didn’t like all of Charles Dickens’s novels equally and now I know I don’t like all of Austen’s equally either. That said, this novel is still worthwhile to read. It is Austen after all. Even on her bad days, she can write circles around many.
Up next is Sense and Sensibility.