This will be the last Jane Austen post for a while. I promise.
This book was the first of Jane Austen's that I've read where I haven't seen a movie or talked to anyone else who has read it beforehand.
And I have to say that I loved it.
Published post-humously, Northanger Abbey is very different that the rest of Austen's books. It is more witty and silly. Austen also refers to herself as the biographer several times throughout, which amused me almost more than anything.
The heroine (called this term throughout by Austen herself) is Catherine Morland. She is so unlike an Elizabeth, or Eleanor, or Anne. She is only 17 years old. One forum on the book said the "Catherine Morland is Jane Austen's only stupid main character."
I didn't find her stupid. She is young and naive. And while stupidity may be a fault, youth and naivety are a natural part of everyone's existence and an essential experience to becoming what Austen idealized: loving, intelligent, and slightly distrustful of those who seem "too good."
Northanger Abbey chronicles the very young Catherine as she leaves her family home in the country for the first time to travel with a family friend to the social haven of Bath. Here, she is met with balls, gowns, friendship, and above all, men. She also is introduced to the Gothic novels of the time, and becomes so enamored with the intrigue and horror found in them that she sees it all around her.
She soon learns that life is often just normal, and not full of the mystery found in her novels. She also finds that friendship can be fickle; men and women, despite all ideals and romantic notions, marry for money and rank; and that she, desperate to be the heroine of her own tale, is a normal, nearly inconsequential girl.
But still special enough to get her own happy ending.