Ah, Northanger Abbey, without a doubt my least favorite Jane Austen novel. For the longest time I thought Sense and Sensibility was the worst, until I reread them all last year and wondered just what the hell I was thinking all those years.
Don’t get me wrong, I think NA is really funny and I absolutely adore Henry Tilney (one of my top 3 Austen heroes!) but compared to her others, this novel is weak. It was her first novel sold to a publisher, in 1803, under the title Susan. For some reason, the publisher sat on it for years until her brother bought it back. I don’t think it was revised at all before she died- it was published posthumously with Persuasion. It’s very different in tone from all her other novels. It still shows glimpses of her wit and the dramatic ironies and everything, but it’s closer to a spoof of the popular Gothic novels of the day than anything else. The romance is pretty lacking (again, spoofing the Gothic novels)- Henry only falls for Catherine because he realized she loved him!
I don’t want anyone to think I don’t like this book- I do! It has comedy in spades. It just lacks the depth of all her other works.
My Rating: 7/10