Northanger Abbey is infused with Jane Austen’s usual wit and charm; but unlike her other works Northanger Abbey is also a delightful tongue in cheek satire of the early gothic novels. The book begins by pointing out how unsuited the young heroine Catherine Moreland is for the role by her failing to be possessed of either the appearance or the distressed circumstances required of a literary heroine.
Catherine’s over active imagination fuelled by the reading of gothic novels leads her astray and she eventually begins to understand that fiction and reality can be worlds apart.
Of course there are also the usual Austen themes of romance and marriage market scheming. If I have one criticism of this book it’s that Catherine’s innocent naivety towards certain characters is pushed to the point of disbelief. I found myself wondering how she could be so fooled for so long. Perhaps that’s because I’m viewing the book from a cynical 21st century standpoint but I did find Catherine’s total naivety a little unbelievable; but then some of the male characters are apparently just as foolish.