[Austen in August] Northanger Abbey

‘What have you been judging from?…Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?’

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Morland experiences fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who introduces Catherine to the joys of Gothic romances, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s house, Northanger Abbey. There, influenced by novels of horror and intrigue, Catherine comes to imagine terrible crimes committed by General Tilney, risking the loss of Henry’s affection, and has to learn the difference between fiction and reality, false friends and true. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, Northanger Abbey is the most youthful and optimistic of Jane Austen’s works.

Northanger Abbey is one of my favourite novels by Jane Austen, although it was the last of her six completed novels that I read. Reading it for my Jane Austen uni course, and for Austen in August, was the third time I’ve read it, and with every re-read I come to love Northanger Abbey more and more.

Catherine is a delightful heroine. She is bright and sparkling and addicted to her Gothic novels. If she was living in the modern world Catherine Morland would be your typical fangirl. (In many ways she is me – she devours her novels and then finds multiple ways to bring them into conversations that may or may not have originally been about nvoels.) But what I really love about her is that she makes mistakes and then learns from them. She befriends and trusts the wrong people, and she allows her imagination to run away with her. But then she learns and grows from her mistakes. She still enjoys her Gothic stories after she has been chastised by Henry for her suspicions but she doesn’t let her imagination take over the way she sees the world and the people around her anymore.

And then there’s Henry Tilney. Older readers of this blog might remember from my letter to him that I love and adore Mr Tilney. Though I think on this read what I loved most about him was, despite how much he teaches Catherine, that he learns so much from her as well by the end. And I love the sibling relationship he has with Eleanor. The love and respect they have for each other is obvious.

But past the characters (all of whom I either love or love to hate) Northanger Abbey was Austen’s big defence of the novel. She may have been parodying the Gothic genre and ironizing it and the literature of sensibility, but she does defend the novel as a whole and everything that novels can bring to people:

in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

If you’re not sure about Austen definitely give Northanger Abbey a go. At only two volumes it is the shortest of her novels, plus with all the irony and narratorial commentary it is one of the funniest (in my opinion anyway). 😀

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[Austen in August] Giveaway!

So has everyone been enjoying Austen in August? I know I’ve been loving it! (Even though I haven’t had a chance to actually get any reviews up yet. I swear they are coming!)

Today, to celebrate my love of Jane Austen and to keep the good times rolling (as well as to go along with my guest post about Mr Darcy which you can find over here at Roof Beam Reader), I have a giveaway for you. Yay!

I’ll be picking one winner who will get to choose two books: one of Austen’s six completed novels and one prequel/sequel/reimagining.

Just a few examples of recent reimaginings/sequels, but you can choose whatever one you want even if it’s not shown here. 🙂

It will be shipped via Book Depository so you may enter if they ship to your address. I reserve the right to ship from another bookseller depending on the location of the winner. To enter, please leave a comment including the items below. For this particular giveaway you MUST be a registered participant of Austen in August prior to August 1st to qualify.

1. Tell me your favorite Austen character.
2. Tell me the book you would select were you to win.
3. Your email address (to contact you should you win).

The giveaway begins today and will close midnight August 28th AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). I’ll randomly select a winner the following day and will notify the winner by email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond or I will select someone else. Happy reading!

Austen in August: Sign-Up

Adam over at Roof Beam Reader is hosting an event this month that I’m extremely excited about: Austen in August.

So anyone who knows me at all, knows how ardently I admire and love Jane Austen. I’ve been reading and re-reading her novels since I was twelve, and I am always inordinately excited whenever I’m given the chance to study her work, both in high school and uni (I’m not sure I would be able to explain how excited I am to be doing a course this semester titled Jane Austen in Context). So I’m sure you can all guess how excited I was to find out about Austen in August. (I think I’ve used the word excited too many times. Right, new word!)

Throughout the month of August I will be reading and reviewing as many books related to Jane Austen as possible. I’m hoping to get through at least three of Austen’s novels (Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park), a biography, and maybe one or two of the sequels/re-imaginings. Plus! I will also be writing a guest post which will be posted over at Roof Beam Reader, and I will be hosting a giveaway. Yes, my first giveaway! Huzzah!

So if you’re a fan of Austen, or even if you have previously dismissed her and want to give her another go, you should come along and join in with us. All you have to do is sign up over here, and then start reading!