Tag Archives: Northanger Abbey

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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Northanger Abbey the Play!

I saw a theatrical adaptation of Northanger Abbey. It was adapted for the stage by Tim Luscombe and directed by Theo Messenger.

I thought the adaptation was fabulous – bits of The Mysteries of Udolpho was mixed in and it seemed to cover all of the major plot points.

The play I saw an amateur production (this one) and it was obvious that the actors were nervous (I thought they were all great) – it took them a while to warm up and you could hear a bit of backstage noise and the costumes were dreadful – ill fitting, wrong style at times and crinkled. I know they don’t have a lot of money, but surely they could have altered the items to fit and what about using an iron? Having said all of that, it was a great evening’s entertainment.

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Northanger Abbey – Final Thoughts

Why is Northanger Abbey my least favourite Austen novel? I have been thinking about this for a few days.

Henry Tilney is charming and witty and the authorial voice is, at times, wickedly funny, …

Mrs Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at their being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.

Austen’s treatment of Catherine Morland is sympathetic – we as readers like her and want to follow her on her adventure to find a hero.

So, why despite all of its good points do I not like it as much as the other novels (even Mansfield Park).

I blame Catherine Morland she is no Elizabeth Bennet or Anne Elliot. She is young, inexperienced and a bit silly. This novel is as much a protest against the lack of female education as it is a love story.

Also, unlike other Austen novels (apart from Persuasion) there is no charming rake – no Henry Crawford, or Mr Willoughby – I like the rogues.

However, Henry Tilney and Isabella Thorpe are brilliant – is Isabella and early version of Lucy Steele?

From a social history point of view, I enjoyed the descriptions of day to day life in Bath – going to the pump room and the upper and lower rooms and the theatre.

I’m glad I read this again slowly and I hope there will be a group read of Udolpho (it’s the only way I think I’ll manage to read it).

Next Austen related book in my pile is The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (by Colleen McCullough).

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Lost in Austen – Episode 3 and 4 & Northanger Abbey

I saw the last two episodes of Lost in Austen.

I thought it was fabulous and I’m sure Jane Austen would have approved – this is the author who wrote Northanger Abbey I’m sure she would appreciate a tongue in cheek look at her novels (or more particularly the adaptations).

Here are some more links …




 I’m still reading Northanger Abbey (up to chapter 5 now). Here are the bits I’ve loved so far …

On Mrs Allen meeting Mrs Thorpe (Chapter 4)

Their joy on this meeting was very great, as well it might since they had been contented to know nothing of each other for the last fifteen years.

On Catherine and Isabella’s relationship (Chapter 5)

Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of that gentle emotion – but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence should be forced.

And of course the famous ‘defense of the novel’ quote (you can find here – scroll to the end of the chapter).

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