My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A little background on my relationship with Miss Austen.
I knew of Pride and Prejudice. It is like practically required to have read if you read romance particularly historical romance.
But see I hadn’t at least not up until 2010
In 2010 I set out to read it. So I started it. I started. Then I stopped. I started. Then I stopped. I was about 100 pages in when I gave up.
Then I decided to pick up the Penguin Classics version of War and Peace. I had previously tried to read it but again I dropped it. But surprisingly with this edition the prose was clear. It didn’t seem so dense and antiquated that I didn’t understand it.
So then I thought: Aha! I shall try it with Austen. So I went out and bought all six books…again in the Penguin edition.
And I finished it in about a day. It was nice but I wasn’t sure about how I felt about Miss Austen.
So then I tried Persuasion. I liked it but I still didn’t love it. It didn’t grab me. It was a lovely book to be sure but I wasn’t obsessed with the book or the author like I became after I read Jane Eyre.
Fast forward to 2014. For some reason I wanted to read the book of extra stuff I had bought by Austen but I could not for the life of me find that book. So I looked over and I decided I would read one of her mature works. I chose the shortest because I wanted something light.
So I started Northanger Abbey and the most curious thing happened. I liked it. I kept thinking about it. I had recently picked up Vilette but I kept returning to this one.
What I liked the most about this book was that it showed me that teenage girls have not changed much in the past two hundred years though a lot about the world has. I felt I could empathize with Catherine.
What particularly stuck out to me was the peer pressure. Any teen knows that is a big issue. I felt myself getting angry about how much John, James, and Isabella were pushing Catherine. But I understood how she felt.
What also stuck out to me was false friends. I had thought Isabella was a good friend but once I saw how she tried to manipulate Catherine and then her subsequent behavior I realized she wasn’t the best friend. I mean I know I have dealt with “friends” like that.
I only give this book four stars because of something I think is specific to Austen’s work or perhaps to all the authors writing in that time period. She does a lot of telling and I wanted more showing! The end was nice but I actually wanted to see it. I am after all a reader of this time but the ending left me feeling nice but unsatisfied. But reading this book gave me a new view of Miss Austen’s work. She’s really funny and I like her insight. I definitely won’t dread reading her books anymore.