Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

3.8 10
by Val McDermid

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“Long before our modern-day crime author draws a final, canny ace from her tartan sleeve, you’ll have succumbed to the delights of Northanger à la McDermid.”—The Boston Globe

Now in paperback, Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey is an updated take on Jane Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose


“Long before our modern-day crime author draws a final, canny ace from her tartan sleeve, you’ll have succumbed to the delights of Northanger à la McDermid.”—The Boston Globe

Now in paperback, Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey is an updated take on Jane Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings. A homeschooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, Cat Morland loses herself in novels (and, of course, her smartphone) and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when her neighbors, the Allens, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then she meets handsome Henry Tilney, who lives at the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help but wonder if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Maybe she has just been reading too many novels?

“There’s an archness and precision to McDermid’s prose that beautifully echoes Austen’s own. . . . Engages in a witty conversation with the original . . . More than just a cover version. McDermid has taken possession of Northanger Abbey.”—New York Times Book Review

“A note perfect modern reworking of Austen’s classic gothic satire. . . . Breezy, vital, inventive . . . [McDermid’s] obvious pleasure in the task is as contagious as Austen’s wit.” —The Scotsman (UK)

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jo Baker
As one of Britain's most celebrated crime writers, McDermid might be expected to reveal actual skeletons, or even mutilated corpses, in the Tilneys' cupboards. But her Northanger Abbey is no darker than Austen's. It's also utterly respectful, marking every major plot point and blending a 21st-century context with neat references to the original text…There's an archness and precision to McDermid's prose that beautifully echoes Austen's own. And her handling of time is also knowingly Austenesque…so the story moves briskly while still conveying the longueurs her characters endure…In [McDermid's] crime fiction, the situations may be extreme, but her characters are human. This is also true of her Northanger Abbey. It may be an adaptation of someone else's novel…but nothing feels forced, nothing feels untrue. McDermid makes it very much her own…
Publishers Weekly
Scottish crime writer McDermid (Cross and Burn) adeptly reworks Jane Austen's Gothic satire for the modern audiences. A homeschooled minister's daughter bored by the "narrow confines" of the Dorset countryside and her "deeply average and desperately dull" family, Cat is given her break when her neighbors invite her as their guest to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There, Cat befriends the needy Bella Thorpe who fancies Cat's brother and meets the captivating Henry Tilney, with his "heroic" face and "luxuriant honey-blond hair." Drama ensues. "When she looked back on that first meeting, Cat would wonder whether she should have been more wary of a man who began their acquaintance with such a blatant lie. For there was nothing gentle about what followed." As Cat gets acquainted with Eleanor, Henry's sister, she secures an invitation to their family home, the enchanting Northanger Abbey, a mansion of possible secrets that stirs the darkest recesses of Cat's overworked imagination. Following Austen's storyline but diverging in distinctive ways of her own, McDermid captures the naivete of the protagonist of Austen's prose, though at times her teenage characters come off as contrived in their language and behavior. Rife with conflicts of love, gossip, misunderstandings, and updates on social media, it is an accessible and enjoyable read, especially rewarding for young readers as a gateway into appreciating the classics. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Northanger Abbey:

“The unmitigated pleasure here is the obvious relish with which McDermid relocates Austen’s Regency England tale of romantic intrigue in Bath’s high-society circuit and imaginatively-spun Gothic intrigue at a rural abbey to 21st-century Britain. . . . McDermid’s success lies in her ability to allow her version of Northanger Abbey to dovetail tidily and enjoyably with Austen’s original while infusing it with her own humor, wit, and style. . . . Long before Cat is off to the Tilneys’ abbey, long before our modern-day crime author draws a final, canny ace from her tartan sleeve, you’ll have succumbed to the delights of Northanger à la McDermid.”—Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe

“Gold Dagger Award–winning British crime writer McDermid offers a canny new twist on Jane Austen’s early novel. . . . McDermid’s brilliant update of the characters’ outlooks, philosophies, and attitudes within a modern context makes this a reimagined delight for Austen fans.”—Amber Peckham, Booklist

“Scottish crime writer McDermid adeptly reworks Jane Austen’s Gothic satire for the modern audiences. . . . Following Austen’s storyline but diverging in distinctive ways of her own, McDermid captures the naivete of the protagonist of Austen’s prose. . . . Rife with conflicts of love, gossip, misunderstandings, and updates on social media, it is an accessible and enjoyable read, especially rewarding for young readers as a gateway into appreciating the classics.”—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Val McDermid:

“Val McDermid . . . has the ruthless psychological scalpel that forms part of the equipment of all good novelists, whatever their genre. And, fortunately for us, she knows just how to use it.”—Andrew Taylor, The Guardian (UK), on The Retribution

“McDermid is a whiz at combining narrative threads, shifting to the viewpoints of her various characters . . . and ending chapters with cliffhangers that propel you to keep reading. . . . She’s the best we’ve got.”—New York Times Book Review, on Killing the Shadows

“One of the most accomplished crime novelists in the UK, Val McDermid has an acute reading of the psychology that lifts her out of the genre strait-jacket. She delivers pulse-raising set-pieces when necessary, but truthfulness of characterization is always more important than the exigencies of plot.”—Barry Forshaw, The Independent (UK), on The Vanishing Point

“Smooth. Confident. Deeply satisfying. What else can you say about McDermid’s writing?”—Entertainment Weekly (editor’s choice), on The Torment of Others

“Her work is taut, psychologically complex and so gripping that it puts your life on hold.”—The Times (UK)

Kirkus Reviews
In the second installment of the Austen Project, which has contemporary writers updating the classic novels, McDermid (Cross and Burn, 2013, etc.) strives to reinvigorate an overlooked Gothic parody with a 21st-century makeover. Clergyman's daughter Catherine Morland is known as Cat in her latter-day incarnation. She posts selfies to Facebook and fuels an overactive imagination reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rather than The Mysteries of Udolpho. Nevertheless, home schooling and a rural upbringing have kept her almost as naïve as Austen's 17-year-old heroine. Cat's big shot at longed-for adventure comes when some neighbors invite her to accompany them to the Edinburgh Festival for the summer. There she meets brash Bella Thorpe; her boorish brother, Johnny; and the refined Tilney siblings, Henry and Ellie. Cat moons after Henry, Johnny pursues Cat, and Bella has a thing for Cat's older brother, James, who unexpectedly visits. As romantic intrigue thickens, the novel's plot sticks doggedly to the original. This does McDermid no favors. Though brisk, her prose lacks Austen's zingy insights and tart dialogue. Henry and Cat's conversations about literature feel forced, and incessant references to social media are as glib as the girls' OMGs and WTFs. When Cat finally escapes Edinburgh for the Tilney family pile of the title, she stumbles upon what initially promises to be a gruesome mystery. In other circumstances, this would play to McDermid's strengths. Here, it only adds to the feeling of being trapped in a teen movie. Northanger Abbey is frequently thought of alongside Austen's juvenilia. Too often, this oddly literal reimagining comes off as simply juvenile.
Library Journal
An interesting premise—crime novelist McDermid exits her comfort zone, taking on Jane Austen—works well, up to a point. Austen's most gothic-toned story is well modernized by McDermid, who demonstrates her fondness for the sometimes foolish heroine in witty asides. The updates are clever and creative as well, but some plot points are difficult to revamp. In this version of the 1817 classic, dreamy, fanciful village girl Cat Morland, a vicar's daughter, is homeschooled and addicted to paranormal fiction books and movies. Her horizons expand when she gets a chance to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she makes new friends and falls for a young and handsome lawyer, Henry Tilney. When Henry and his family invite her to their family mansion, Northanger Abbey, her imagination races to some interesting conclusions about the Tilneys. Cat and her mates text and Facebook many of their lines, and there's a convenient lack of wifi at a critical moment in the story. But the marriage-mindedness of the teenage characters is harder to believe, and the black-and-white characterization of some heroes and villains is overdone. Still, McDermid's descriptions of scenery and settings are excellent and overall this Austen experiment is a success. VERDICT Fans of McDermid and those who are curious to see what she does with Austen's lesser-known novel will enjoy this book. [See Prepub Alert, 12/1/13.]—Liz French, Library Journal

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Val McDermid is the best-selling author of The Skeleton Road and twenty-eight previous novels, which have been translated into over forty languages. She has received numerous awards recognizing her exceptional career, including the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing and the Pioneer Award from Lambda Literary. Her individual books have won many prizes, including the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger.

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Northanger Abbey 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up for a new fictional read, having read the summary and found that as a redone classic page-turner. This book has been retold and rewritten extremely well from the origional book by Jane Austin. The story is plotted so that the emotion the characters are experiencing and producing evokes your emotion with them (or against them). I like how the story has a classic feel yet when your reading, you feel as though it is a whole new modern story with recognizable infliences. This book is as a whole, a must read and a great tribute to the original.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the re-telling of this Jane Austen classic. Most of you have already read the original so I will only be giving a little bit of detail about the story, so here goes. Cat Morland has not experienced a lot of life. She is thus very excited when her neighbors, the Allens, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival with them in Edinburgh. There she meets the Thorpe family, who's matriarch, Martha, used to go to school with Susie Allen and quickly starts up a friendship with Martha's daughter Bella. Turns out the world is immensely small and the Thorpe family has already met Cat's older brother James, who is a mate of Bella's brother, Johnny. Bella who has a crush on James sinks her fangs into Cat in order to hopefully impress the brother. Then there is the Tilney's, Henry and Eleanor, who of course live at Northanger Abbey. Cat falls for the older Henry, of course, and is so excited to accepted the invitation of the Tilney's to join them for a stay at their home, Northanger Abbey. Mysteries, scandals, and even some made up scandals ensue causing a lot of heartache for Cat, James, Eleanor, and Henry but things sometimes have a way of working themselves out and soon everything is right in the world of Austen/McDermid again. Is Love Just Not Grand! If you love YA you will even fall for this re-telling of Jane Austen's classic.
clahain1 More than 1 year ago
I was a little nervous when I began Val McDermid's version of this Jane Austen classic. It's the second release from the Jane Austen Project, which pairs six well-known contemporary authors with a Jane Austen novel. I thought the first one--Joanna Trollope's version of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY--a disaster and didn't hold out much hope for this one. It probably doesn't help that NORTHANGER ABBEY is my least favorite of Austen's works.  Surprise. I loved it. It's fun and flirty and silly. But it works. Let's face it, Austen didn't write the book as  a serious novel. It was her pointed (and sarcastic) reply to the highbrows of her time, who denigrated the novel and even questioned its position as a true literary form.  In some ways, I prefer McDermid's version to the original. It might be the setting. Cat Morland travels to Edinburgh instead of Bath. The draw is a month-long arts festival. The events of the book come alive as we tag along with the characters to concerts, plays, dances, book signings and poetry readings.  In general, the characters are well-drawn and convincing. At times, Cat is more sophisticated than McDermid originally describes her. Any immaturity she shows has more to do with a lack of experience--especially social experience--than intellectual dullness or provincialism. Her vicarage upbringing has certainly not prepared her for the devious personalities she finds surrounding her in Scotland. Cat's vampire fixation, especially as it pertains to the Tilney family, is a bit ridiculous, but it's also perfectly realistic in light of current pop culture, where even morning television spots cover the  relative merits of vampires versus werewolves for boyfriends and how to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Henry Tilney is probably McDermid's least successful character. His stiffness and general lack of humor is more pronounced here than in the original. Austen's Henry needled and provoked her heroine. McDermid's version lectures and criticizes. Also, the reason behind General Tilney's exile of  Cat from Northanger doesn't quite convince. Yet, even here there's a logic, a sad parallel, between Cat's suspicions of vampires and the general's fear of lesbians. Each is discomfited by what is, for  them, dangerous and alien. So, three cheers (and at least as many re-readings) for Val McDermid's NORTHANGER ABBEY. What a fun way to spend an afternoon!  
Liz51 More than 1 year ago
This modern day update captures the feel and characters of the original.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to finish this book because it was so incredibly shallow. No interesting story line, and characters with no depth. Do not waste your money if you are looking for a well-written "Jane Austen" book. I cannot even believe people would rate this any higher than 1 star.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew it was a rewrite of the classic, but having read Val McDermid before,I was sure she would put a macabre twist to it. Not so. About as exciting as the original by Austen. Sorry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a clean retelling of an old classic. If you like it I recommend checking out Jenni James' Jane Austen retellings. They're the best I've read so far. But this one is really good too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago