Northanger Abbey

( 386 )

Overview

"In this dramatisation of Jane Austen's earliest novel, the heroine, Catherine Morland, is taken by her aunt to Bath, where she encounters the social whirl denied her at home. She befriends Isabella Thorpe and her boorish brother John. She meets the charming but eccentric Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor. And all the time her head is full of the Gothic fantasies of Mrs Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, scenes from which will keep intruding into the daily life of Bath society." "When Catherine accepts an invitation to the Tilney's country seat
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Northanger Abbey

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Overview

"In this dramatisation of Jane Austen's earliest novel, the heroine, Catherine Morland, is taken by her aunt to Bath, where she encounters the social whirl denied her at home. She befriends Isabella Thorpe and her boorish brother John. She meets the charming but eccentric Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor. And all the time her head is full of the Gothic fantasies of Mrs Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, scenes from which will keep intruding into the daily life of Bath society." "When Catherine accepts an invitation to the Tilney's country seat at Northanger Abbey, lurid images of Udolpho threaten to overwhelm her. Until, as in all the best Jane Austen, Catherine finally gets her man." This adaptation was first seen at York Theatre Royal.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen performs an admirable service for readers--and particularly scholars – of Austen. It is a service that will no doubt last for generations to come."
-Devoney Looser, University of Missouri, Editionen in der Kritik"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451530844
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Series: Signet Classics Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 567,192
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen
Barbara M. Benedict is Charles A. Dana Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

Deirdre Le Faye is the editor of Jane Austen's letters and of A Family Record. She is the author of A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy wouldhave supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, thecharacter of her father and mother; her own person and disposition,were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, withoutbeing neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, thoughhis name was Richard—and he had never been handsome. He had aconsiderable independence besides two good livings—and he wasnot in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her motherwas a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, whatis more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sonsbefore Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing thelatter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still livedon—lived to have six children more—to see them growing uparound her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family often children will be always called a fine family, where there areheads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlandshad little other right to the word, for they were in general veryplain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any.She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, darklank hair, and strong features;—so much for her person; —and notless unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond ofall boy's plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls,but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse,feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush. Indeed she had notaste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chieflyfor the pleasure of mischief—at least so it was conjectured fromher always preferring those which she was forbidden to take. —Suchwere her propensities—her abilities were quite as extraordinary.She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught;and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, andoccasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching heronly to repeat the "Beggar's Petition"; and after all, her nextsister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherinewas always stupid, —by no means; she learnt the fable of "The Hareand Many Friends" as quickly as any girl in England. Her motherwished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should likeit, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlornspinner; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year,and could not bear it; —and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on herdaughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste,allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-masterwas one of the happiest of Catherine's life. Her taste for drawingwas not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside ofa letter from her mother or seize upon any other odd piece of paper,she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees,hens and chickens, all very much like one another. —Writing andaccounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: herproficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked herlessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountablecharacter!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at tenyears old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldomstubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the littleones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisyand wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing sowell in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back ofthe house.

Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances weremending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexionimproved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, hereyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Herlove of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grewclean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimeshearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement."Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl—she is almost prettytoday," were words which caught her ears now and then; and howwelcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an acquisitionof higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the firstfifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can everreceive.

Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her childreneverything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied inlying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughterswere inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not verywonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic abouther, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, andrunning about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—orat least books of information—for, provided that nothing likeuseful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they wereall story and no reflection, she had never any objection to booksat all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for aheroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supplytheir memories with those quotations which are so serviceable andso soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.

From Pope, she learnt to censure those who
"bear about the mockery of woe."

From Gray, that
"Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
"And waste its fragrance on the desert air."

From Thompson, that —
"It is a delightful task
"To teach the young idea how to shoot."

And from Shakespeare she gained a great store of information —
amongst the rest, that —
"Trifles light as air,
"Are, to the jealous, confirmation strong,
"As proofs of Holy Writ."

That
"The poor beetle, which we tread upon,
"In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great
"As when a giant dies."

And that a young woman in love always looks —
"like Patience on a monument
"Smiling at Grief."

So far her improvement was sufficient—and in many other points shecame on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets,she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed nochance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude onthe pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to otherpeople's performance with very little fatigue. Her greatestdeficiency was in the pencil—she had no notion of drawing—not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover's profile, thatshe might be detected in the design. There she fell miserablyshort of the true heroic height. At present she did not know herown poverty, for she had no lover to portray. She had reached theage of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who couldcall forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion,and without having excited even any admiration but what was verymoderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strangethings may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairlysearched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no—not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintancewho had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door—not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had noward, and the squire of the parish no children.

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of fortysurrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and willhappen to throw a hero in her way.

Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fullerton,the village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered toBath for the benefit of a gouty constitution—and his lady, agood-humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware thatif adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, shemust seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs.Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.

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Table of Contents

General Editor's preface; Acknowledgments; Chronology; Introduction; Note on the text; Northanger Abbey; Appendix: summaries and extracts from Ann Radcliffe's novels; Corrections and emendations to 1818 text; List of abbreviations; Explanatory notes.
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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

(An exclusive guide to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, written by Karen Joy Fowler and excerpted from The Jane Austen Book Club)

Northanger Abbey was written in the late 1790s, but published only posthumously. It is the story of a deliberately ordinary heroine named Catherine Morland. The book is divided into two parts. In the first, Catherine travels with family friends, the Allens, to Bath. There she meets two brother-sister pairs—John and Isabella Thorpe, and Henry and Eleanor Tilney. Her own brother, James, joins them and becomes engaged to Isabella. Catherine is attracted to Henry, a clergyman with witty and unorthodox manners.

General Tilney, father to Henry and Eleanor, invites Catherine to visit them at home; this visit makes up the second half of the book. The General is at once solicitous and overbearing. Under the spell of the gothic novel she has been reading, Catherine imagines he has murdered his wife. Henry discovers this and sets her humiliatingly straight.

Catherine receives a letter from James telling her that Isabella has ended their engagement. General Tilney, upon returning from London, has Catherine thrown out, to make her own way home. It is eventually understood that Catherine and James had been mistaken for people of great wealth, but the situation has been clarified.

Henry is so outraged by his father's behavior that he follows immediately after Catherine and proposes marriage. They cannot proceed without his father's permission, but this is finally given in the happy madness of Eleanor's marriage to a viscount.

ABOUT JANE AUSTEN

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on July 18, 1817. As a girl Jane Austen wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were only published after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813),Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Although Northanger Abby was the first book Austen sold, it was one of the last published. Some readers feel that it's obviously an early work without the narrative control Austen was soon to develop. Do you agree? Why or why not?
     
  • Catherine Morland is clearly a suggestible reader, but her gullibility extends beyond books into the real world. Is the tendency to think the best of people a trait you admire? Is it a trait you have?
     
  • The one character about whom Catherine is inclined to think the worst is General Tilney. Why is this? She is humiliated when Henry realizes how her imagination has run away with her, but how mistaken is she really regarding his general character? Are her powers of imagination more reliable than her powers of observation?
     
  • Henry Tilney tells Catherine that his father was attached to his mother and greatly afflicted by her death. Do you believe him?
     
  • Henry, himself, is a controversial hero. Sylvia Warner Townsend has suggested she thinks he's one of Austen's most delightful. Some find him witty and appealingly interested in feminine matters. Others find him condescending and even misogynistic. Ask another reader of Northanger Abbey what s/he thinks of Henry and then argue with whatever position s/he takes.
     
  • Of his father, Henry says that, given his temperament, "he loved . . .as well as it was possible for him to." How well do you imagine it will be possible for Henry to love? Affectionately? Passionately? Steadfastly?
     
  • Why does he choose Catherine and how much in love with her is he?
     
  • Hidden within Austen's satire on gothic novels is Eleanor Tilney's story. Eleanor has a dead mother, an overbearing father, and ends up married to a viscount. Imagine the book if Austen had chosen Eleanor as the heroine. Would it have been a gothic novel?
     
  • Northanger Abbey is a book about reading. Much of the plot has to do with the folly of confusing one's own life with the stuff of fictional adventure. But the book also contains a famous Austen defense of novels and novelists, particularly those read and written by women.
     
  • We are told immediately that Catherine does not object to books so long as "nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them" and they are "all story and no reflection." Escapist fiction continues, in our day, to have a bad reputation. Is that reputation deserved?
     
  • Austen flatters the reader of Northanger Abbey by allowing him/her to see and understand things the heroine does not. It's fun for readers to find that they are smarter than the people in books. Have you read books in which you felt you were smarter than the author? Is that also fun? Is it possible to like a book if it makes you feel you're not quite smart enough to read it?
     
  • What kind of difficulty level do you like in a book? Think of some books that are just difficult enough for you to enjoy. Think of some books that are too difficult.
     
  • The romance genre is arguably our own most popular form of fiction. Is the romance genre empowering or damaging to women readers? Do these fictions have real life implications for women? Are its antecedents the same novels Austen is poking fun at in Northanger Abbey? Or would you trace its lineage back to Austen herself?
     
  • What is the role of fiction in your own life? Why do you read it and what do you want from it?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 386 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(176)

4 Star

(103)

3 Star

(68)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(19)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 387 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Norhtanger Abbey

    I have been a big Jane Austen fan since I first read Pride and Prejudice as a ten year old. Since then, my love has only grown. I thought that nothing could top Pride and Prejudice, then I read Northanger Abbey. I love this book! It is funny, sweet, has good morals, endearing characters, and everything else that a good novel needs. I would recommend this to anyone who loved Pride and Prejudice or wished that Persuasion had a bit more spice. It is perfectly lovely, and a piece of work worthy of recognition. Put this in your personal library and read it again and again!

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Clever to Clever Readers (though not necessarily clever minds)

    This book, as even Austen herself would surely admit, does not particularly align with her other novels. It certailny resembles them in regards to the general plot (of woman meets man, something/someone comes between woman and man, eventually woman and man are together) but, as is also the custom with all of Austen's works, bears striking distinction. Northanger Abbey is a book about books, or more specifically the Gothic novels or other fantastic fiction. Perhaps to certain eyes characters in it may seem flat and consequently unappealing. But it is only because Austen had written this as a parody of sorts, making the novel seem as though written for those accustomed to reading Gothic novels themselves, though really for people who expect OTHERS would take everything in the book seriously. She wants her readers to share her own humors with her, and even points out her intentions by reminding her readers: that THESE chracters are characters, and only that.
    Personally, I should recommend it to any appreciative of both Gothic novels themselves and Austen's playful approach to dealing with people who think every time a candle goes out in the night, a knife follows with it.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Northanger Abbey

    What seasoned Austen readers know is that Northanger Abbey is written almost entirely in a satirical vein. It is one of Jane Austen's finest displays of wit throughout her writing, poking fun at gothic novels and embellishing with zest. Readers who are only familiar with a few of Austen's works, like the more mainstream Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, may thus be confused by difference in tone of Austen's first novel. It is a splendid way to familiarize oneself with all of Austen's work. Five stars.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

    Am I missing something here?

    The book I'm looking to buy is N. Abbey...but the reviews are all for Emma excpet one that's for M. Park. Exactly what novel would I be buying here? Maybe this is a Project Gutenberg moment...?

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    This edition is seriously messed up.

    Very hard to read. Lots of extra, odd letters and punctuation thrown in. I can't figure out how they got it so wrong. I finally gave up on reading it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 1999

    Very Entertaining

    Northanger Abbey is a fun book to read. It has very colorful characters and when reading it i could see them come to life in my head. Catherine Morland is an interesting and humorous character. She has an imagination that makes for great reading. I recommend this book to anyone who wants an entertaining read

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    This is not Northanger Abbey

    There is a problem, and I hope B&N fixes it soon. The nookbook download is not of Northanger Abbey but of Penguin's edition of Cicero's Selected Writings...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    My Least Favorite Austen Book.

    Although a nice read, the characters in this book are among the most insipid characters Ms. Austen created. Catherine was too bland. This character was better done in Washington Square by Henry James. I never quite got the attraction to Mr. Tilney. And I must say the most interesting character was Isabella, however atrocious she may have been. If this is your first Austen, don't give up. They're not all this bland.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2011

    Terrible version

    It was not converted well. Lots of symbols and misspelled words. Pretty useless for reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Jane Austen Classic

    One of Jane Austen's lesser known novels; but still a very good read. The heroine is a bit more fanciful than other Austen characters; but it's interesting to see her discuss/read novels that were popular during that time. Also, the hero doesn't really resist falling in love with her. In fact, the fact that she admits that she favors him makes him like her all the more. This combined with family intrigues, the adventure of discovering a new place (Bath), and Catherine's imagination running away from her at times makes for a fun, slighty mysterious read. Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Not Austen`s Best

    This is not Austen`s best novel, but it is sweet and delightful, and witty as ever.
    It is not my favourite book by Austen, and I suppose I might have enjoyed it more, had I read it when I was younger.
    The story is about a young and rather immature girl, who reads too many romantic and ghost stories. On a visit to Bath, she befriends the Tilneys. Father Tilney is very overbearing and strict, his oldest son is a scoundrel, but his two other kids, the charming, funny and intelligent Henry and his lovely sister make up for the other two. Catherine, our young heroine receives an invitation to the Tilney house, hich is rather ancient. She suspects that there are dark secrets lurking behind the family facade ...but are there really or is it simply her imagination? You have to read it to find out.
    It is actually a very funny story. You don`t feel the same love and understanding for the heroine, as you do for Liz Bennett, but Austen intended it that way. Like all her novels, it is a coming of age story, where the main character learns more about herself than she ever expected.
    Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Light Jane Austen but still very enjoyable

    This is actually one of Austen's first works, she kept it for fifteen years, polishing it. It is her lightest work but it is still very good. Our heroine is Catherine, she is a rather silly young girl who has read too many gothic romances. "The Mysteries of Udolpho" in particular has turned her silly head. She seems to see a gothic mystery everywhere she looks. Catherine soon learns that the world is not all melodrama and eventually matures and marries a very sensible man. What keeps Catherine likable is her capacity to learn from her mistakes. She is certainly the least mature of Austen's heroines but she is never boring. This is a marvelous book to start with if you want to get into Jane Austen, it does not have as many characters or subplots as her other works and it is very breezy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Abbey Roads

    Who knew a vacation trip could turn into such an important event for one girl's life. From the moment the heroine is introduced, up to the very end she is delightful, naïve and fun. The men who come in and out of the tale are a little shady, self centered and of course cause more harm to the poor girl than good in some cases. A delightful visit into another Jane Austen book. I love the interactions between all of the characters, large and small they each bring light, laughter and fun to the tale. The settings shifting through out the book are detailed, fitting and absolutely fabulous. I really want to visit a real abbey some day just to see.it is also thrilling to have a heroine who is balanced between to smart for her own good, and so dumb every step is an accident. The personalities of the other girls in the book bring out the unique qualities of the heroine and show case her in a brilliant light. A very good short read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2015

    Jace

    Brought back two rabbits and a mluse

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2015

    Prim

    She wok up.

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  • Posted July 7, 2014

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    Terrible copy; do not buy

    The header says it all; whatever one thinks of Ms. Austin's effort, I'll have to assess it with another copy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    Another Austen classic

    Not so famous but a great read just the same. I cannot get enough of Jane Austen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Wonderful

    This is a great novel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Loved it!!

    Once again Jane Austen steals my heart!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 387 Customer Reviews

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