If you’re like me, as an avid reader or writer, you’ve probably imagined what it would be like to be the hero or heroine of your own little story.
And that’s what makes Northanger Abbey such a fun and entertaining book to read. The book’s protagonist, Catherine Morland, is essentially a protagonist who does just that: she grew up reading tons of books, and thus she now views herself as a sort of heroine whose story is currently unfolding. Like any Jane Austen protagonist, Catherine is a single woman in search of a husband. And so, as the book unfolds, Catherine tries to compare herself with the heroines of the books that she’s read as she tries to find a spouse.
This unique spin on a romantic heroine, combined with Austen’s wit, led to a very engaging and enjoyable protagonist. All of this allows Austen to include a good bit of mild satire on standard tropes in the average novel, as well as some tropes specific to the romance. While Northanger Abbey doesn’t seem to live up to the literary greatness of some of her other works like Emma or Pride and Prejudice, I at least found it to be the most engaging book that she’s written. The heroine-twist along with a mystery aspect later on in the novel really helped this book to feel fresh and it was interesting to see Austen experiment with different angles on her typical genre of romance.
Of course, for Austen, novels are never just about the interesting characters that inhabit them: they’re also about the character arcs. And so, like all Austen novels, this novel also wraps up with a pretty satisfying character arc (which I’ll avoid spoiling for the review). For those who have read and enjoyed Austen’s other works and are interested in seeing some different spins on Austen’s general story patterns, this is a great book to pick up.