"Northanger Abbey"

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I love Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen. I wish she had lived longer and written more novels, but then maybe the few we have wouldn't seem so precious. I keep looking at beautiful leather bound sets that run in the $600 range and saying "someday", but really that's a lot of money. Still, maybe, someday.

I decided to re-read Northanger Abbey when I realized I couldn't remember parts of the story. It isn't my favorite Austen book; I think that will always be Emma, or Pride and Prejudice, or maybe Sense and Sensibility. I don't know. I keep changing my mind. Usually the one I've just read becomes my favorite for awhile.

I like the main character, Catherine Morland, but I don't love her as I do her other main characters. Catherine is sweet and innocent, but a little too susceptible to peer pressure and flights of fancy. She isn't the strong, intelligent woman that Elizabeth Bennet is.

Her romantic interest, Henry Tilney, is likable enough, but there are times when I fear he is laughing at Catherine, or at least taking just a little too much enjoyment in her naive suppositions about others. Still, when I read it I'm always rooting for Catherine and Henry to get together.

Austen always gives me somebody to enjoy hating and this time it's Isabella Thorpe. Actually there are two because Isabella has a brother, John, who is equally obnoxious. They are social climbers who spend all their energies trying to marry fortunes. They connive and scheme and lie until you want to shake them and then shake the people over whose eyes they are pulling the wool.

As much as I love the stories of Jane Austen, it's her writing that brings me back again and again. There's just no one like her. Her skill with sarcasm is a wonder to behold. For example:"Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of ministering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."  Wouldn't it be a hoot to sit and have tea and conversation with her?

Well that's my Austen fix for awhile. On to other things now.

Next up: The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins.


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