Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Rather Unlikely Heroine

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Bookmark: The ribbon attached to the book. Gotta love the permanent bookmark.

The overall plot of this novel - girl goes to Bath with friends, girl meets new female friend, new female friend has a brother, brother is an obnoxious twat who pesters girl, girl falls for someone else, girl and said someone else live happily ever after - is entertaining enough, but the characters are what makes this book so fun.

The father of Catherine's true love is an overbearing, verbose individual who never lets anyone else speak and in fact, spends a lot of time speaking for them. His strict adherence to schedule borders on autistic, so anal is he about what time they must eat, what time they must depart, and so on. The brother who pesters Catherine (he is after her hand in marriage, oddly, when he seems too obsessed with himself to care much about anyone else) lengthily enumerates the specifics of his various possessions, describing in excruciating detail the particulars of his horse, of his chaise, etc. It's best to skim those parts. The friend with whom Catherine travels to Bath is a rather vacuous woman who is far too obsessed with her clothes to maintain a steady opinion about anything else.

I also was amused by Austen's characterization of the heroine, Catherine. She's not really all that much of a heroine, but Austen makes it explicitly clear that it is Catherine's hope that she would be a heroine. She thinks about what a heroine would do, what situations a heroine would find herself in, and so on.

Humorous characters are one of the best parts of an Austen novel.

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posted by Kate at 3:58 PM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Probably my least-favorite Austen, I've only read this once, and that many years ago. But I remember Catherine was a delightful ditz, Henry a wonderful wag, and Isabel...not very nice. (I hope I got those last two names right.)

I remember most the way Austen mocks Gothic romances, the shining example of which were Ann Radcliffe's novels. Which surprised me in "Becoming Jane," that they made Austen so impressed by her. I think Jane had a much better sense of humor than that.

11/01/2007 8:57 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Your least favorite huh? Wish I'd known that before. Oh well, I did enjoy it. Now I'll have to read some other ones. Which are your favorites? Any votes for which I should read next? (at some point, anyway...)

And yes, you got the names correct. I think. No, it was Isabella. But you were very close. :)

11/02/2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

My least favorite Austen is still a very, very good read. : )

I don't really know which my favorite Austen is. It used to be Pride and Prejudice, but that was until P&P industry. I think I've reached the P&P saturation. I realiy like Persuasion, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility. Mansfield Park is ok, but its long and dour, and Fanny's quite a wimpy heroine. but I'd suggest you tackle Emma next if you hadn't read it yet. : ) It's very good, and something of a hybrid between the sparkling comedy of P&P and S&S and the more sedate moral approach in MP and Persuasion.

11/03/2007 6:30 PM  

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