A Musing: Northanger Abbey


What a delightfully subversive and modern novel! It’s a book which reveals that it’s a book (meta, as my wonderful Unputdownables compatriot chezjulie noted), and calls to task other books. I also love the way Austen turns the idea of the heroine on its head. Catherine is a hot mess! A hot mess with a good heart and much exuberance, and we love her for it 🙂 She experiences a transformation in her three months away from home. Forget about skeletons and murder: Catherine comes to realize that practiced manners, social maneuvering, and superficiality are the true horrors. There are also some real one line zingers in this book. I won’t spoil them for you. This is a quick and engaging read — at 182 pages you can experience them first-hand over a weekend. So worth the full, wonderful, and a bit shocking effect!

The history of this novel is also too good not to share. It’s one of the first Austen wrote, but it was published posthumously (I bet the publishers didn’t know what to make of it! So ahead of it’s time!). As an early work, I think it reveals the inner workings of her future novels — Persuasion, Pride and Predjudice, etc. all have many of the same themes, but Austen is much more subtle and sly with them. Her overtly meta style in this book settles into her free indirect speech style in subsequent work. Fascinating!

I have read, and loved, two Austen novels recently that people tend to say are not “typical Austen novels” (this, and Persuasion). I think I should revisit her more typical ones quite soon!

image from Jane Austen Quotes!

P.S.  I’ve been remiss! The Zelda Unputdownables read-a-long starts tomorrow! It’s not too late — we are reading over the next two months. Do join us!


  1. Pingback: My Classics Club List, Version 2.0 | jackiemania
  2. Jan

    Northanger Abbey is one of my favourites and ITV here in the UK did a brilliant adaptation of it a few years ago! If you’re going to try another Austen then Emma is another great read!

  3. Pingback: Calendars, My Classics Club List Version 3.0 (& One More Challenge!) | jackiemania

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