Saturday, May 17, 2008

Review: Northanger Abbey

One thing about owning a Kindle is that all the classics are pretty much free, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. So when I ran out of purchased reading material during a trip, I started on Northanger Abbey (wireless kindle delivery, free download).

My brother tells me that this is one of her minor works, not really worth reading, and it does appear to have quite a number of flaws. The main plot, as with most of Austen's novels, have to do with getting married to someone with a lot of money. That part of nature hasn't changed since 200-300 years ago, so it's as relevant today as it was then. The heroine, Catherine, is referred to as such all through the book, and she is a true innocent, visiting Bath with friends of her family and getting caught up in the social scene.

There, she meets her best friend, Isabella, and embarks along with her on a quest to find the perfect husband. Along the way, there's betrayal, family, and an unexpected ejection from the family estate of her beau, Henry Tilney.

The plot is a bit shallow, since there is no complication under the control of Catherine all through the story --- she is a passive character, carried along by the narrative like a bottle by the waves. And she is so innocent of her friends' wiles that nobody bothers to explain to her what's going on. The ending of the novel also feels extremely rushed, as though Austen suddenly ran out of paper and hurried to get to the conclusion before her supplies ran out. I agree with my brother: not recommended.
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