One of the highlights of my first year blogging in 2012 was discovering the many challenges book bloggers give each other. Whether it is to read a certain number of books per week/month/year or to read your TBR pile or to read in a specific genre or to read a particular author, each challenge opened a window for me to consider what I was reading. I especially enjoyed joining The Classics Club because it made me feel good that there were other people out there reading what I was reading. The first targeted challenge I engaged with was Adam's Austen in August project located on his Roof Beam Reader blog.
Last August I read Austen's Persuasion for the first time and enjoyed it very much. That left only one of Austen's "big six" to go and I purposely saved Northanger Abbey for this August. Little was I to know that I would have a reading melt-down in August. So while the bad news is I didn't finish an Austen in August, I did finish last night!
Northanger Abbey is written in two parts: the first is set in the spa resort of Bath where our heroine meets a number of new friends and potential suitors and the second at Northanger Abbey, the home of her new friend, Eleanor, and her very eligible brother, Henry. At times it seems as though these are two different books with only minimal connection between them. Then I discovered that Northanger Abbey was the first novel Austen completed even though it was the last published. You can see her youthful abilities here, especially in Part One. Her satire on gothic romances of the day is humorous -- more so if you have any familiarity with the then popular genre.
I thought Catherine Moreland was a fine character and even though Austen didn't explore her too deeply, she is presented as the youthful, somewhat shallow, girl she is. I enjoyed this book very much.
It is hard to compare Austen's six novels and choose a favorite. Each is its own masterpiece. Of course some day it would be beneficial to read them all again over a short period of time so I can actually compare them, but given my book piles, that may not happen. I'd be happy to revisit any of these books because Jane Austen is, well, so good. So very, very good. Take that, Mark Twain.
Finally a big thank you to Allie at A Literary Odyssey who provided the actual book I read (above) last year when I won a contest during August on her site. Allie, I saved this one particularly for Adam's event and I enjoyed this edition. Just the right amount of footnotes and endnotes to explain the terms one would not know as a 21st century reader.