Northanger Abbey – Val McDermid

Northanger Abbey – Val McDermid

This is part of the Austen ProjectI’ve read Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility and the new Emma (review of that to follow later). This one is my favourite so far.

Here is the blurb …

Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid has riveted millions of readers worldwide with her acutely suspenseful, psychologically complex, seamlessly plotted thrillers. In Northanger Abbey, she delivers her own, witty, updated take on Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings, with an extra frisson of suspense that only McDermid could provide.

Cat Morland is ready to grow up. A home-schooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, she loses herself in novels and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when the Allens, neighbors and friends of her parents, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. With a sunny personality, tickets every night and a few key wardrobe additions courtesy of Susie Allen, Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then there’s the handsome Henry Tilney, an up-and-coming lawyer whose family home is the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help wondering if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Or has she just been reading too many novels? A delectable, note-perfect modern update of the Jane Austen classic, Northanger Abbey tells a timeless story of innocence amid cynicism, the exquisite angst of young love, and the value of friendship.

This update of Northanger Abbey works brilliantly. Cat thinks the Tilneys are vampires (too much Twilight maybe?), rather than discussing the picturesque they talk about cinematography and John Thorpe has a sports car – he is still a bore and a social climber.

I have been trying to work out why this modern version works better than the other books from the Austen project. Is it because the situation the heroine finds herself in is more universal than in Sense and Sensibility and Emma? Let’s face it Sense and Sensibility has important plot points that are hard to modernise – what man now days would stick with an engagement he didn’t like? And Elinor and Marianne could just get a job to generate an income.

Anyway, this is a fun, light-hearted take on an Austen novel. Enjoyable on several levels.

More reviews …

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  1. Pingback: Hag Seed – Margaret Atwood | My BookClub Reviews

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