Book review: ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

To properly appreciate “Northanger Abbey,” you must realize that the gothic novel (atmosphere of mystery and horror) was being widely read at the time Austen wrote the novel. It is commonly accepted that it was written as satire to that format.

Catherine Morland, 17, had a rare opportunity. Her neighbors, the Allens, were going to Bath on holiday. They invited her to accompany them for the six weeks. Bath, known for its Roman baths, was the gathering place for the who’s who in society. Mrs. Allen particularly like to dress for the social occasions, and they were a great opportunity for Catherine. This was especially true after Mrs. Allen met her old friend Mrs. Thorpe. A great friendship developed between Catherine and Isabelle Thorpe. The closeness was redoubled when Catherine’s brother, James, began a relationship with Isabelle.

As Isabelle’s time was often otherwise occupied, Catherine struck up a friendship with the Tillneys, Eleanor and Henry. The friendship became so close that Miss Tilney invited Catherine to Northanger Abbey for a few weeks’ stay. By now, Catherine thought she discovered that Henry might have similar feelings for her that she harbored for him.

And then the gothic satire appears. Abbeys as they appear in gothic novels are mysterious places. There are usually unexplained things happening there. It didn’t take much of a stretch, in the dark of night, to create a scenario in Catherine’s mind. After all, what had happened to General Tilney’s wife, the mother of Elenore and Henry? Did it have anything to do with the part of the abbey that the general refused to take them through?

Much to her embarrassment, Catherine discovered that she had been dealing with a mystery of her own making. “… (I)t seemed as if the whole might be traced to the influence of that sort of reading in which she had indulged.”

Even so, that’s not to say that the general did not have a dark side, perhaps just not the one she was imagining. 

The novel continues to a logical conclusion. “Northanger Abbey” is a study of English society at the time. The reader will have to judge whether it merits being called a classic.

Comments are closed.

  • County Line delivery delayed to rural Ontario customers

    July 3rd, 2020
    by

    The U.S. Postal Service has not delivered this week’s County Line to rural Ontario subscribers, and we haven’t been able […]


    Brookwood graduation is July 24

    July 2nd, 2020
    by

    Brookwood’s graduation is slated for Friday, July 24, but the nature of the ceremony will be determined by Monroe County’s Coulee Covid-19 Compass risk rating on Wednesday, July 22.


    Book review: ‘Winterkill’ by C.J. Box

    July 1st, 2020
    by

    Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains.


    Ontario Public Library to begin phase two of reopening plan

    June 30th, 2020
    by

    On Monday, July 6 we will begin phase two of our reopening plan, which allows you to make an appointment to use the library internet, computers, and printing services.


    Phase one of Wilton Public Library reopening starts July 6

    June 30th, 2020
    by

    On July 6, Wilton Library will begin phase one of reopening by taking limited library appointments.


  • Kendall Gathering and All-School Reunion canceled

    June 29th, 2020
    by

    The Kendall Gathering and All-School Reunion has been canceled for 2020.


    Motorcyclist severely injured in Wellington crash

    June 27th, 2020
    by

    A motorcyclist sustained possible life-threatening injuries in a Thursday crash on Midway Avenue in the town of Wellington, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.


    Two hurt in town of Forest motorcycle accident

    June 26th, 2020
    by

    Two were injured in a single-motorcycle accident reported at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on Highway 33 at County Highway V, according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.


    Royall graduation set for July 11

    June 25th, 2020
    by

    Royall will host an in-person graduation Saturday, July 11, but it will not be open to the public, staff and other students.


    Book review: ‘The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library’ by Edward Wilson-Lee

    June 25th, 2020
    by

    First, some housekeeping: Hernando Colón (1488-1539), illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus, is the main subject of this book, and this is the Portuguese version of his name.


    Royall Education Notes: Staff, students met numerous challenges during closure

    June 24th, 2020
    by

    Wow – Wow – Wow – What a crazy couple of months we have endured.


  • Archives