I finished the last of Jane Austen’s major works, Northanger Abbey, a few days ago and I loved it (obviously- it’s by Jane Austen)! I don’t know if I’m just majorly nerdy, or if I have a heightened appreciation for Jane after reading the rest of her novels but I thought it was probably the funniest of her books I’ve read. Plus it was really short and easy to read. I don’t really know what everybody is complaining about. I thought it was great. Maybe part of my appreciation comes from the fact that it made fun of The Mysteries of Udolpho,which was a thoroughly stupid book that I wasted three months forcing myself to read (come on! everyone appreciates sarcasm and mockery!) The Mysteries of Udolpho is an extremely idiotic tale of a unfortunate girl who loses both of her parents, and is whisked away to live in a scary dilapidated castle with a dastardly uncle who she suspects may have committed murder. She goes on many tedious and repetitive adventures, and spends most of her time fainting, crying, or taking long descriptive walks around the Italian and French countrysides. The first line of Northanger emphasizes the ridiculousness of these exaggerated plot points when she declares that no one would have expected her main character, Catherine Morland, to be a heroine. She says of Catherine’s father:
“He had a considerable independence, besides two good livings–and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters”
She goes on to express her incredulity at her mother’s good sense and healthy constitution, saying,
“She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on”
Can I just say that I loved how Jane makes fun of the fact that the mother always has to die in stories. It still happens today in most Disney movies!
In addition to the funny elements, I think I loved the main guy character, Henry Tilney, more than any of the other Austen men (*gasp* even Mr. Darcy?! How could you call yourself a Janeite?!). He was just really funny. Take his first exchange with Catherine for example:
“Then forming his features into a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a simpering air, ‘Have you been long in Bath, madam?’ ‘About a week sir’, replied Catherine, trying not to laugh. ‘Really!’ with affected astonishment. ‘Why should you be surprized sir?’ ‘Why, indeed!’ said he, in his natural tone — ‘but some emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprize is more easily assumed, and not less reasonable than any other’”
He proceeds to ask her a series of very mundane socially acceptable questions, and then concludes the exchange with “Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again”. His wit even rivals Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet in my opinion.
So it was basically really funny and quick and I don’t know why more people don’t love it. I really liked it and I think everyone should give it a go!