Eleanor Blair (lnr) wrote,
Eleanor Blair

21: Northanger Abbey: Jane Austen: from ISBN 0-14-025944-9

From one novel set in the late 17th/early 18th century to another. This one of course would struggle to be more different in character. Middle-class characters with a live of ease, indulging in the pleasures of dancing and the theatre and love and friendship in Bath, and at the Abbey of the title, home of two of our heroine's friends.

The charm of this one is, as well as in a nice little romance and in a tale of not believing that people are all the seem to be, in the wonderful way it gently mocks the overly horrid and romantic novels of the age. Throughout the author speaks of the horrors and adventures and over excited feelings our heroine ought to be experiencing, but instead portraying someone who is much more of an ordinary girl of the time, albeit one who is too easily influenced by what she has read. She's wonderfully innocent and naive throughout, and Austen obviously had great fun on having the hero of the book gently make fun of her all the time, through his own greater knowledge of 25 compared to 17. And John Thorpe makes a wonderful boor of a figure, with course language and manners completely at odds with all the rest of the characters, making an impressive contrast.

I think I'd recommend it to anyone who has read Sense and Sensibilty or Pride and Prejudice and found them just too cloying, as I think they'd enjoy this more. Perhaps since this was written some years later (and published posthumously) this is just a sign of someone whose writing has improved with practice. Or perhaps it's just the way it's more played for amusement, but it a wonderfully indulgent and friendly teasing sort of way. No doubt I shall read it again before long. I probably read most of them most years, and I'd say this was a favourite if most of the others weren't too. Awfully tempted to go onto Persuasion next, but I try and shall resist for now. Better to read something new from time to time than be reading too many things that are already familiar, and there's been a lot of re-reads this year so far.

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