Thursday, July 07, 2011

Amy's Bookshelf: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine."
So, remember last year when I said I was going to make an effort to read more? Well I did... I just didn't blog about them! Haha! Ooops! My blogging has been lacking of late. I like to think of it as a good thing, as I was reading for University and then studying, so the procrastination that is ever so noted in the very name of this blog was widely averted. Twitter still had me though...

Anyhow, even though it is only July, I thought I would get started on my reading list for the next academic year. I have to read at least 1 book per week and my course only consists of 40% of my degree. I really feel for the poor fuckers who are doing the full subject. So I got started with Gulliver's Travels initially, but I struggled with it a bit and by the time I was getting somewhere I had to hand it back to the library because of a stupid loan request. So... Northanger Abbey it is! I have been meaning to read Jane Austen for years. I have a copy of Pride and Prejudice gathering dust. After my struggle with Gulliver's Travels (which I, admittedly, put down to my own lack of intelligence as an English student rather than general bad writing as I do struggle with older texts) I was expecting all of the books on this particular module to also be difficult. But Austen is not the case.

Jane Austen writes with a satirical wit that had me giggling into the night, which greatly annoyed my sister and, in turn, made me even happier! I actually managed to read the last 2/3s of the book in one day I got so into it! So... coutesy of Goodreads:
The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.
Catherine is a fantastic character to follow. Her naivety and her innocence makes you really feel for her and you can see her growing up and learning over the course of the novel. It is the events at the Abbey that make her realize just how naive she has been and  how her imagination needs a leash!

Overall of course the novel is satirizing society with Austen using Catherine's aforementioned naivety as a way of making the reader notice just how silly and stupid it all really is! But she slowly gets drawn in and then it shifts to the parody of the Gothic novel, which were all the range back when this was written. It is quite funny at times when Catherine is exploring her room at Northanger and she finds a "manuscript" in an old drawer. It makes you feel tense for a moment and then the pieces of paper are revealed to be something completely mundane, making Catherine, and equally yourself, feel a bit silly. But you see the true value of a heroine in this book; a heroine is not just someone in the blockbusters, or overcomes pride etc... it is someone who rises to be better than they were 100 pages ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish and I recommend it! It may not be for everyone though as it takes a good 2/3s of the book to actually get a mention of Northanger but most of the charm is in the slow build-up.

I give it 8/10/ With 4 for wit and 4 for charm!