Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: A Perfect Satire

My decision to continue the postponed plan to read all of Jane Austen's books from 2021 has been a long time coming. I, very unexpectedly, finished Northanger Abbey last night, which turned out to be my first 5-stars read this year.

Northanger Abbey follows the story of a seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland, the fourth child of ten siblings, who is offered an opportunity to temporarily stay in Bath with her good neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. She meets Isabella Thorpe there, and the two quickly become good friends. Soon joined by Catherine's brother, James, and Isabella's, John, four of them explore Bath's social events together.

However, her heart has set on a particular someone. Upon her first meeting with Henry Tilney, Catherine becomes besotted. After befriending Henry's sister, Eleanor, Catherine is invited to visit the Tilney family estate, Northanger Abbey. While she is ecstatic to spend more time with the Tilney, the eerie ambiance of the abbey has filled Catherine's mind with scenes from the gothic thriller novel she is currently reading. She soon suspects the mystery surrounding the death of Mrs. Tilney, and whether her husband has a part in it.

I wouldn't say that the blurb of this book is misleading, but the truth is it pretty much is. I picked up this book anticipating a mysterious classic with Jane Austen's touch, and while I didn't find what I was looking for (Catherine's visit to Northanger Abbey didn't happen until midway through the story), I wasn't left disappointed.

Northanger Abbey was an entertaining satirical romance novel, fresh but also classic Jane Austen. It came up with various characters differing in nature, and I would say that this was my first time feeling so strongly an emotion while reading Austen's books. Naive Catherine made me softly curse, a bookstagram friend of mine called Henry Tilney a walking green flag and I couldn't agree more, while both Isabella and John irritated the heck out of me.

I was, at first, quite surprised by the author's interpolationscleverly inserted when needed that they were. Northanger Abbey felt different from the other Austen books that I had previously read, but I would say that it was a perfect satire with great characters and a very sweet romance. A brilliance too, precisely depicted by this quote:

"It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language."

In conclusion, my top favorite from Austen is now a tie between this book and Pride and Prejudice. If you like classic books, it must be a no-brainer for you to pick this book up.

Actual rating: 5