Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Classic Novel Recommendation.

“What have you been judging from?…Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Morland experiences fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who introduces Catherine to the joys of Gothic romances, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s house, Northanger Abbey. There, influenced by novels of horror and intrigue, Catherine comes to imagine terrible crimes committed by General Tilney, risking the loss of Henry’s affection, and has to learn the difference between fiction and reality, false friends and true. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, Northanger Abbey is the most youthful and optimistic of Jane Austen’s works.


Welcome back to the classic novel recommendation of the month. This time I chose “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen. I like this book for several reasons and despite it not being “Pride and Prejudice” or “Persuasion” it has so many things to love and learn from.

This is a classic that has it all: some drama, mystery and romance, of course, but what I like most about it is that it’s funny and witty and I often found myself smiling during a lot of scenes. It can be seen as the coming of age story of Catherine Morland,  a young and naive girl, avid reader of books who has to learn to be a better judge of character and to distinguish between reality and fiction. Indeed,  Catherine is a sweet girl who often lets her imagination run riot and tends to approach the real world and relationships by mixing up reality with fantasy.  In the 1st part we see Catherine going to Bath, falling in love with the charming Henry Tinley and making new acquaintances, including Isabella, the superficial and, let’s say, gold digger girl who’s only interested in fashion, gossip and wealth. Catherine is still too naive to recognize Isabella’s true nature and throughout the novel she’ll have to learn to see through people and not to focus on appearances, because they can be deceiving…

The 2nd half of the novel sees Catherine going to Northanger Abbey, the Tinley home, and this part  is the clever parody of Gothic novels, whose form and conventions get satirized by Austen. Catherine tries to solve the mysteries of Northanger Abbey by imagining all sorts of strange things, whom she read in her beloved novels, but that are no way linked to what is actually happening around her. I have to say it’s easy to see in Catherine some of our attitudes during our early teenage years, when we were often influenced by books we read, but like in real life, Catherine will learn from her mistakes and most importantly will come to read people, to read between the lines, also thanks to Henry Tinley. I admit he’s no Mr. Darcy nor Captain Wentworth, but he’s a great male character who embodies the most practical aspect of human nature. Like Catherine, he’s read lots of books, but he’s far more perceptive than she is. He understands human behavior better than anybody else in the whole novel and he sort of  helps her bring about her character development.  Besides being Catherine’s love interest and then lover, he’s also her guide in learning about human interactions. He’s  very kind and caring as well.

“Northanger Abbey”, written by Jane Austen when she was very young, is not as polished as other novels she wrote afterward but it’s a superb one nonetheless, teeming with lessons on love,  reality and relationships, that we can draw from still nowadays.

And now some of my favorite passages:

-“No man is offended by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves, it is the woman only who can make it a torment.”


-“ ‘What are you thinking of so earnestly?’  said he, as they walked back to the ballroom; ‘Not of your partner, I hope, for, by that shake of the head, your meditations are not satisfactory.’

Catherine coloured, and said, ‘I was not thinking of anything.’

‘That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.’

‘Well then, I will not.”

‘Thank you;  for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.’ ”


-“[Henry] felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing feared of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted.”

-“Life, if you live it right, keeps surprising you, and the thing that keeps surprising you the most…is yourself”

-“ ‘I  am sure,’  cried Catherine, ‘I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?’

‘Very true,’ said Henry, ‘and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement—people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word. ‘ ”

-“[Henry] felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing feared of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted.”



About Elena

Literature is my passion. I love reading so much that I spend countless hours in bookstores and libraries. I have a soft spot for poetry and art. I like traveling and discovering new places. I can't do without a book.

6 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Classic Novel Recommendation.

  1. katiebirdie says:

    I miss my Jane Austen books. I’ve not read this one though. I think I will now. 🙂


  2. Jess says:

    GAH, I’ve only read Pride & Prejudice (twice). I started Sense & Sensibility a few months ago & put it down briefly in favor of my book club selection (& apparently forgot all about it). Adding this to my Goodreads now!


  3. ChocoMG2112 says:

    A wonderful book and a great review. Thank you lovely Elena.


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