* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Published: 1817 (posthumously)
Year I read it: 2009
One sentence summary: Told in the form of a gothic parody, Northanger Abbey tells the story of the young, imaginative, and naive Catherine Moreland, expecting to find some dark secret around every corner, instead has to learn to navigate the every-day worldliness of the people around her.
- There are hints that Austen intended this to be published under the title "Catherine," in the style of the heroine-eponymous Emma. Instead, the publishers decided on an estate name, similar to the title of Mansfield Park.
- It is lighthearted in a way that none of the other 5 novels can compare. There are delightful moments where I found myself laughing not at Catherine, but with her. I could identify with her dark-and-stormy-night assumptions.
- Austen excels at The Awkward, especially here. Never has a carriage ride been more high-stakes or a side comment been more mus-construed.
- Henry [flipping] Tilney! I know, I know. Darcy is perfect. He really is. But Henry I'd take Henry. He's funny with a sarcastic edge, ever so gentle when he needs to be, is not proud or entitled, and is, overall, really adorably endearing.
- Austen didn't get a chance to finish editing this before she passed away, so there are few things that might be outside of or not quite up to people's expectations of Austen.
“It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of a man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire... Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.”
"I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow... Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense." [Henry Tilney, ladies and gentleman]
“The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
“It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”