Review of Northanger Abbey

For a while I've secretly been wondering if I actually like Jane Austen novels. I know. I mean, I know I love Austen stories, but stories and novels are different. I could easily spend an entire day watching the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, but I've been unsure if I like the books as much as I should. (And whether or not the bookish should even use the word should is a topic for another day.)

So to check off the Austen box for the Read the Classics challenge, I picked Northanger Abbey, the one Austen novel I haven't read and for which I didn't even know the basic plot. 

It was delightful.

After a few chapters I fell into a good rhythm with the language, which is markedly different from even the literary fiction published today. And once I allowed myself to steep in Regency English, I easily saw the satire, the humor, the knowing side-eye Jane gifts her readers. 

I loved Catherine Morland as a hero and related so well to the romantic angst she experiences with Henry Tilney. As I read about Catherine's excruciating search for Mr. Tilney at the balls in Bath, I recalled vividly my own experiences as a young teenager at church dances craning my neck looking for my crush. As Mr. Thorpe cornered Catherine my heart reached out in sisterhood, because heaven knows I've been trapped in conversation by overconfident young men oblivious to social cues and thinking they know more than they do.

Now that I've actually read Jane Austen outside of the classroom and enjoyed it (though, if you can believe it, I've only had one class that required me to read Austen at all, so that makes me question the validity of my entire degree), I'm ready to dive back into the rest of Jane's small body of work. I might even try Mansfield Park again.

Jane, forgive me my lapse in judgment. You're a delight, and I think we have the brightest of futures together.


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