Thursday, 4 September 2008

R.I.P. Book One - Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey was my first R.I.P. read for my first ever first reading challenge. I'm afraid that I am not going to do a "proper" write up on this book as so many people have already written many, many excellent essays on the topic. I will, however, try to capture some of my thoughts on re-reading a book that I've not touched for at least 15 years.

Firstly, I should state that I am I am definitely what I believe is called a Janeite. I would easily count Pride and Prejudice in my Top 5 books of all time and suspect that I could find room for at least one of her other books in the Top 10. Depending, of course, if I was ever to be decisive enough to finally decide on the candidates for the longlist, shortlist and then finally the order!

I'd forgotten, or was perhaps too young to appreciate, just how clever this book actually is. Although I knew when I first read it that it was written as a parody of the populist genre of Gothic romance, I don't think I realised until this read just how many tongue-in-cheek references there are. From the outset, Catherine Moreland is clearly described as being not a typical heroine of a romance novel and gentle fun is poked throughout the book.

I had totally forgotten that Jane's portrayal of Isabella Thorpe is so very, very cruel. She is, from the outset, painted so very clearly as a shallow, manipulative creature who spares no thoughts for the feelings of those around her and is out to get what she can in terms of a financially secure marriage. That Catherine fails to see her beloved friend's true colours perhaps says more about Catherine's innocence of character than it does of Isabella's ability to conceal.

Oh dear - I am straying and in danger of writing an essay. All I really meant to say in this post is that re-reading Northanger Abbey was great fun and I enjoyed myself very much.

After finishing, I dipped into Deirdre Le Faye's Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels and had a very pleasant time reading up on some of the details about life in those times. I skipped the biography section as I felt sufficiently informed by Claire Tomalin's excellent work but this is a gentle introduction to Jane Austen and her work.

1 comment:

xicanti said...

I know I'm very much in the minority, but this is my favourite Jane Austen! The tongue-in-cheek look at Gothic novels really makes it for me.