Shockingly Fantastic Books: Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey”

Shockingly Fantastic Books will be a weekly series by me, where I pick out one of my favourite books to write about.  All of the books in this series can be found at the bottom of the post, and they will be struck out as I write about them.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
One of my favourite books of all time and unfortunately lays quite forgotten due to the constant whoring of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Not a bad thing, since both are great books as well. This novel is not quite clear cut as the others as the heroines marriage is not really the centre of the plot. It’s rather a-coming-of-age affair as the protagonist, totally inexperienced in society, who only knows the world of gothic novels, has to come to terms with the things she has read, and what actually happens in the real world.

 It’s a satire, attacking male critics of the day that down-played novels (novel writing was a low form of art in her time and was considered primarily a female occupation) and accused the novel of steering female readers away from reality. Jane Austen has her protagonist the product of these accusations, but demonstrates how quickly she overcomes her problems with distortion, but also how applicable stories are to real life.

The antagonist of the novel is her romantic interest’s father. When visiting his Abbey (his father has invited her believing that she is rich, when in fact, she is not) and learning that his wife had died, she assumes the worst, thinking that he murdered his wife, or has her locked up in the attic. Of course, this is nonsense, but when he learns of her lack of wealth, he turns her out and treats her with cruelty. As Austen sums up towards the end of her novel: ‘Catherine felt that, after much reflection, that she had scarcely sinned against General Tiley’s character’ (paraphrased).

It’s a wonderfully clever and bold novel. The fire in Austen’s belly is clear (this was her first novel, but was the last to be published) and she gives out her first doses of wit and intellect. Fabulous book.

SHOCKINGLY FANTASTIC BOOKS:

CLASSICS

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Monk – Matthew Lewis
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
She – H. Rider Haggard

DYSTOPIA/UTOPIA

Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Ice People – Maggie Gee
1984 – George Orwell
Utopia – Thomas More
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 

FANTASY

Dragonflight – Anne McCaffrey
Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman
Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
The Black Magician Trilogy – Trudi Canavan
The Godslayer Chronicles – James Clemens

WILKIE COLLINS

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
Armadale – Wilkie Collins
No Name – Wilkie Collins
The Law and the Lady – Wilkie Collins

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One Response to “Shockingly Fantastic Books: Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey””

  1. […] Eyre – Charlotte Bronte Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen The Monk – Matthew Lewis Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux She – H. Rider […]

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