Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was apparently Jane Austen’s first completed novel – a satire of the Gothic novels popular during her time. Though it lacks the subtlety of her later, longer works, this one offers a taste of Austen with her claws out. Her talent for making pithy observations about what really matters in polite society (generally, money) is already evident.
Austen also discusses her heroine as living up to -- or not living up to -- the Gothic heroine ideal in considerable detail throughout. Though it’s all part of the satire, it’s also an unusual and welcome glimpse into the writer’s thought processes.
I’ve read (and in most cases, reread ) all of Austen’s novels, finding different things to appreciate in each. This one felt a bit lightweight, but her sly observations about Gothic novels (and their readers!) plus her sharp-eyed account of society life in Bath made it well worth my time. YMMV, as ever.
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