Rating: 3 stars
Northanger Abbey is certainly not one of Austen's best novels. I'm not even sure it ranks among the likes of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility or even Mansfield Park. However, as a commentary on writing and reading through the satire of the gothic novel, it's pretty good.
Catherine Morland is young and naive. Her parents allow her to travel to bath with the protective Mr. Allen and his ridiculous wife. Led astray by Mrs. Allen's judgement, Catherine befriends the beautiful and selfish Isabella. Luckily, she also meets Henry Tilney and his sister Elanor, and it is through this friendship that Catherine is eventually able to shed her naive nature.
The Tilney's whisk Catherine away from Isabella's influence to their home, Northanger Abbey. Catherine approaches the Abbey with the gothic assumptions her mind has formed from reading books like Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho. After a few embarrassments that Henry sets straight, and after Isabella's true nature is uncovered, Catherine matures into a decent and good young woman.
All in all, it was amusing. The Thorpes (Isabella and her brother, John) were probably Austen's most despicable characters. Of course, they were caricatures of the vain and selfish, just as Mrs. Allen. But there was something so evil and so destructive about their way to suck in both Catherine and her brother James. So, ultimately - an Austen worth reading, but not re-reading.
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