First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
“Northanger Abbey, generally agreed to be Jane Austen’s earliest major work, grew out of her distaste for the absurdities of the novels of her time, and in particular for the conventions of the ‘Gothic novels’ with their impossibly perfect heroines and unnatural events. At Northanger Abbey Jane Austen’s charmingly imperfect heroine, Catherine Morland, meets all the trappings of Gothic horror and imagines the worst. Fortunately she has at hand her own fundamental good sense and the irresistible but unsentimental hero, Henry Tilney. Disaster does eventually strike, in the real world as distinct from the romantic one of her imagination, but without spoiling for too long the gay, good-humoured atmosphere of this most delightful of books.”
After immersing in four contemporary works, all published between 2019 to 2020, I have decided to travel back in time (not literally of course). My time capsule transported me to early 19th century, to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Completed for publication as early as 1803 but wasn’t published (together with Persuasion) until after Austen’s death, Northanger Abbey is nonetheless regarded by most as her debut work.
Like most of her works, the short novel relates the story of an unlikely heroine. Whilst Pride and Prejudice had Elizabeth Bennett, Northanger Abbey has Catherine Morland. Catherine was invited by her wealthier cousins, the Allens, to accompany them in their excursion to the town of Bath, where they participated in winter balls and other social events prevalent during the time.
It was through these social gatherings that our 17-year-old heroine-in-training met two young men – Henry Tilney and John Thorpe – who’ll compete for her affection (using a more modern parlance). From these associations, different conflicts arise, typical of Jane Austen and her prose. This romantic angle, something that is representative of literary works of the period, is one of the themes explored in the novel.
Jane Austen was my baptism of fire apropos literary classics. Her Pride and Prejudice was my first venture into this part of the literary sphere. It is no secret that I quite struggled with the language (I was in my third year in college back then). After completing two more Austen works – Sense and Sensibility and Emma – I have finally gotten used to her language. I find Northanger Abbey easier to read although I can’t remember if the storytelling was more fluid than the first three I’ve read. I have become more familiar with Austen’s prose I guess.
There is so much to look forward to in the book. From what I understand of the synopsis, it is parts coming-of-age, parts social commentary, and parts satire. This is an unusual mix and it is interesting to read how Austen plays on the satire, particularly on how she expresses her thoughts and criticisms on Gothic novels. I already have an idea of how the ending is going to pan out, from my previous experience of reading Austen’s book. I am looking forward to knowing more of Catherine Morland.
With its rather short text, I think I am bound to finish the book later tonight; I have ran out of Korean variety shows to watch, haha. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to. I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!