Saturday, January 13, 2007

Northanger Abbey

I finished Northanger Abbey by Austen over the Christmas holiday. I really think this is my favorite Austen novel....isn't each one the favorite as I finish?? I have been mulling over the storyline, considering the characters and thinking of what I want to say.

This book really touched me. At first, I did not care for the heroine of the novel Catherine Moreland. Austen seemed to go out of her way to make sure you knew she was ordinary, not an exceptional beauty, nor overly bright, not even accomplished in the womanly pursuits as a woman in her time should be. I even thought of putting the book down a time or two. But I persevered.

Catherine's unassuming character grew on me and I longed to see her do well. I did not care for the Thorpe family with whom she aligned herself. Quite possibly because in Mrs. Thorpe I saw some of my own fallacies. Mrs. Thorpe had a tendency to focus all her conversation on her children, bragging of their accomplishments to the extent that she ignored the conversations of others. I too have a tendency to talk on about my family to the point of monopolizing the conversation. It is something I have worked on for a long time, to try to take the backseat, but it does not come naturally for me. In Mrs. Thorpe's character, it was so glaring and disagreebale I don't wish to continue in that vein.

Another human flaw that Austen points out is the tendency of some to exaggerate or lie to make a point favorable for them. She puts it so well....

"Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know to how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess of vanity will lead. Her own family were plain matter-of-fact people, who seldom aimed at wit of any kind, her father, at the utmost, being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit therefore of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would contradict the next."

I think people in our society have a real problem with "importance" and saying whatever is necessary to make themselves stand out. Exaggeration, moreso than an all out lie is more common than not. It is something I have tried to explain to my boys on more than one occasion, if it is not the complete truth without embellishments, then it is a lie.

If you haven't read Northanger Abbey yet, I would highly reccommend it. I do believe it is my favorite Austen novel, at least until the next one!

1 comment:

Beth said...

I just love it when I stick with a novel and it turns out to be a favorite! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

I seem to have lost my reading mojo though I just started The Virgin Blue and I'm liking it very much. I just wish I were better at reading and knitting at the same time. I can easily read a magazine and knit but can't easily read a book and knit.