This took me a while longer than Saturday for me to finish Northanger Abbey than expected. See, usually I take about half a day to finish 130 pages.
This took me four days. Why?
Well (and I’m sorry, Miss Austen) I didn’t like it.
I managed to get through it by appreciating it like a fine piece of art. Even if I don’t like it, I can see the thought that went into it. I know that it the book thirteen years to be published. In fact, it didn’t see the light of day until after Jane Austen died. So I saw the story through because of my sympathy for her.
Still, it wasn’t the worst book that I ever read. It just wasn’t the best, either. In fact, I had trouble pinning it down at all, which of course complicated this post a little, since I’m supposed to be writing what I’ve learnt from reading it.
Still, there are a few things that I did learn.
1) A good narrative voice can go a long way to compensate for annoying main characters. I’m sorry that I have to say this, but I found Catherine Morland to be much too silly to my tastes. The only reason why I was able to sit through the rest of the story was the narrative voice in the story, which had a wry wit that I enjoyed.
2) Although it’s always fun to mock and comment on aspects of your times, building a book around it is a risky thing to do. Northanger Abbey was written to make fun of (in particular) Gothic Novels from the time in which Jane Austen lived. While I enjoyed this aspect to it, the story wasn’t all that relevant to me, since we’ve got new things to mock. Sadly, once the burlesque aspect to the story is disregarded, there isn’t much left to enjoy. In fact, most of the rest of it is mostly telling in order to move the story on to the next important lesson.
3) Showing goes a long way. Period. If there was a bit more this, I wouldn’t have had to depend on the superficial impression created for me about Catherine that led to me disliking her because I couldn’t connect with her on a deeper level.
So yes, this isn’t the most positive post about a classic that I’ve ever written, but it is what I felt and what I learnt and I don’t regret having read Northanger Abbey. Now at least there was one more book to cross off my TBR list.
Have you read Northanger Abbey? What did you think about it?
This post was written as part of Jane Austen January. Next book: Persuasion.