Halloween Book Review: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey is a satirical Gothic work by Jane Austen. The protagonist Catherine, travels to Northanger Abbey and imagines her life as parallel to the plot of a Gothic novel, although her real life brings her back down to earth.

Although Northanger Abbey isn’t strictly a Gothic novel, or in fact wholly a ghost story, I wanted to talk about some more Jane Austen, and I didn’t feel like discussing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was entirely appropriate in the run-up to Halloween!

I’m a huge fan of the Gothic genre, and so I went into reading Northanger Abbey with great excitement, eagerly waiting for Austen to satirise the genre as much as she could.

However, I was disappointed in how long it took Austen to start talking properly about the Gothic; I was halfway through the novel and Catherine hadn’t even arrived to Northanger Abbey yet! I did appreciate the references to some more Gothic classics though, such as Matthew Lewis’ The Monk and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho.

The character of Henry was also really amusing – he painted fantastic Gothic images in Catherine’s mind, images which reminded me of Brontë’s Jane Eyre, of haunted rooms, and hints at mysterious family deaths, raising the question of ghosts.

It’s particularly ironic to read Northanger Abbey as a Gothic-loving English student, because it makes me even more aware of the stereotypical Gothic conventions. I can only imagine how Austen’s readers felt at the time, when the Gothic genre was so popular.

All in all, I did enjoy Northanger Abbey but it’s definitely not my favourite Austen novel.

– Judith


3 thoughts on “Halloween Book Review: Northanger Abbey

  1. Great post. I don’t think that you will find many people in the world who would say that Northanger Abbey is their favourite Austen book 🙂 My interest in the book wasn’t Gothic, but I enjoyed all the references to it, especially when they talked about the plot to The Mysteries of Udolpho. I instantly wanted to read that as well. Overall, I think Northanger Abbey is very underrated. It is not as bad a book as most people think.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, recently I have also reviewed “Love & Friendship” movie based on Austen’s Lady Susan short novel (https://dbmoviesblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/love-friendship-review/), and I have to say there is something special in each of the book – maybe that’s why they are so good when translated to the big screen, but only a real fan must think that say “Persuasion” is better than say “Pride & Prejudice” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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