Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

4.0 386
by Jane Austen

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At seventeen, Catherine Morland is invited to accompany the Allens to Bath for the winter season. In Bath, Catherine meets and befriends the Tilneys and the Thorpes. Through her relationships with these families, Catherine learns the true value of love and friendship, as Henry Tilney and John Thorpe vie for her affections and the true character of her friend,

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At seventeen, Catherine Morland is invited to accompany the Allens to Bath for the winter season. In Bath, Catherine meets and befriends the Tilneys and the Thorpes. Through her relationships with these families, Catherine learns the true value of love and friendship, as Henry Tilney and John Thorpe vie for her affections and the true character of her friend, Isabella, is revealed.

Although it was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed for publication, Northanger Abbey was not published until after the author's death in 1817. It had previously been sold to a London bookseller in 1803 who had decided not to publish the work. Austen's brother re-purchased Northanger Abbey in 1817, at which point it was revised and published at the end of that year.

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“Jane Austen is the Rosetta stone of literature.” —Anna Quindlen

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Chapter I

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard—and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable independence, besides two good livings—and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as any body might expect, she still lived on—lived to have six children more—to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features;—so much for her person;—and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond of all boys’ 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 no taste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure ofmischief—at least so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take.—Such were her propensities—her abilities were quite as extraordinary. She never could learn or understand any thing before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the “Beggar’s Petition;” and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine was always stupid,—by no means; she learnt the fable of “The Hare and many Friends,” as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother wished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it;—and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine’s life. Her taste for drawing was not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside of a 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 and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable character!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper; was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.

Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances were mending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexion improved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, her eyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Her love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grew clean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimes hearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement. “Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl,—she is almost pretty to day,” were words which caught her ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.

Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children every thing they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—or at least books of information—for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so 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 Shakspeare 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 she came on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude on the pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to other people’s performance with very little fatigue. Her greatest deficiency was in the pencil—she had no notion of drawing—not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover’s profile, that she might be detected in the design. There she fell miserably short of the true heroic height. At present she did not know her own poverty, for she had no lover to pourtray. She had reached the age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility; without having excited one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no—not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintance who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door—not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had no ward, and the squire of the parish no children.

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

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

From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by Jane Austen Introduction by Robert Kiely

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"She is a prose Shakesphere."
Thomas Macaulay
She is a prose Shakespeare.
From the Publisher
“Jane Austen is the Rosetta stone of literature.” —Anna Quindlen

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Northanger Abbey 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 386 reviews.
Anne_Scarlett More than 1 year ago
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!
peppered_piper More than 1 year ago
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.
Ann_Karr More than 1 year ago
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.
Laura-Samuelson More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
bearifier More than 1 year ago
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...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was not converted well. Lots of symbols and misspelled words. Pretty useless for reading.
JHBookFan More than 1 year ago
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!
Aglaia More than 1 year ago
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.
Kiko1021 More than 1 year ago
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.
Hill_Ravens More than 1 year ago
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 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.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Runs in like a bo$$ and does his costapated markiplier voice "markiplier constapated uuuuuuhhhh."
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
If you are interested in the connecting stuf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She wok up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not so famous but a great read just the same. I cannot get enough of Jane Austen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again Jane Austen steals my heart!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alas, to be living in that era!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Jan Austen and this book is good but it's not great. Worth reading but don't expect the typical Jane Austen greatness.