Thursday, August 19, 2010

Northanger Abbey Finale: Chapters 24-31

This post is part of a readalong and contains plot references/spoilers! Here are links to my other N.A. posts: Chatpers 1-9, 10-15, 16-23

I finished this novel while reading in the car so I didn't take any notes which means I don't have quotes or reactions to specific chapters. However, I'll give you my overall impression.

In many ways I was happy with this ending. Catherine finally realizes how absurd her gothic projections have been. She manages to learn from her mistakes and begins interpreting people and circumstances correctly.  I thought it was a sign of maturity that Catherine took Henry's mild chastisement and, realizing her errors, refused to let her imagination run wild anymore. I was worried Catherine would return to Isabella and was glad she did not renew the friendship.

Concerning the romance, I was left feeling mystified. What exactly drew Henry and Catherine together? I didn't feel privy enough to Henry's thoughts to know why he pursued Catherine. He didn't seem particularly passionate about her except at the end when he rode out to her house. Do you think Henry was motivated by love or by a desire to prove his independence to his father, the General? Perhaps a little of both? I'm thinking Henry knew he liked Catherine right away and only waited to to get to know her more before proposing. As far as I remember, Catherine was always transparent with Henry (correct me if you find places where she was not) even when it embarrassed her to be. Perhaps Henry was happy to find someone who was easy to read because she was honest - unlike the General Tilney, Captain Tilney and the Thorpes.

My favorite aspect of Northanger Abbey was Austen's way of reminding us we are reading a story and how this story differs from other Gothic novels. Austen tells us Catherine is the heroine even though she is rather ordinary. Austen tells us how anticlimactic scenes are, like Catherine's banishment from the Tilney's and uneventful journey home. It is not enough that Austen shows us these things but by telling us it reinforces the humor of each non-scary, non-special moment.

Overall, I give N.A. a thumbs up. This is my third Austen read and it did not disappoint.
Publisher:  Broadview, 2002 (originally in 1818)    Pages: 280
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: Purchased from Amazon


  1. I find it a little hard to believe that Henry was motivated by love. He never said or did anything to show he was interested in Catherine until his father told him she was off limits. Only then did he have to rush right off and declare his love. I agree that he must have known early on that Catherine was interested in him. Why else would she have been so concerned about taking a walk with him and his sister? Or the debacle between wanting to dance with him and John Thorpe making a scene about it.

    There were a lot of things going on in Northanger Abbey that I would have missed if not for everyone's posts and comments. Thanks so much for participating in the readalong!

  2. I just got the movie in the mail but not sure when I will be able to watch it as I have to go back to work tomorrow and tonight I have book club. Hope you had fun camping in MN, at least it cooled off for you. I loved Northhanger Abbey, it was a fun read for me. I didn't pick up on all of Austen's little reminders but I agree she was quite witty in her telling of the story.

  3. Jennifer - Thanks for hosting! I'm glad I participated because everyone's comments were so much fun!

    Booksnob - We couldn't have asked for better weather! It was just perfect. We're thinking of going back sometime early this fall for a day to do some biking. I hope your own vacation went well! I don't know about you but we came home worn out!