Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

#95 in my book challenge for the year was Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. After I read and enjoyed Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club last year, I resolved to read all six of Austen’s novels; I’m halfway there. Northanger Abbey tells the story of an average girl, Catherine Morland, and how she becomes involved in Bath society and her entanglement with two families, the Thorpes and the Tilneys. Catherine is an often painfully naive main character, and the book frequently read to me like a middle-grade novel with its simplistic, passionless encounters between the sexes. What was more intriguing was Austen’s defense of the novel as an art form, as well as her critique of those who take escapist reading more seriously than it deserves. The hero of the book, Henry Tilney, was not a favorite of mine. I found him something of an ass, condescending to women, thinly characterized, and not that interesting. This was a short, easy read, worthwhile in some aspects, but without the stronger authorial control of the two, later-written Austen novels I’ve read, Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

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