Books, life the universe

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Northanger Abbey

I've been listening to an audio book of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey read by Juliet Stevenson and really enjoyed it. It pokes fun at the craze for Gothic novels such as Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho in the early 19th century. Catherine Morland visits Bath with her friends Mr and Mrs Allen. She makes friends with Isabella and John Thorpe - a brother and sister who it is clear are definitely not quite her sort of people even though they are friends with her brother. Then she meets Henry and Eleanor Tilney - another brother and sister who are in Bath with their father - General Tilney. An invitation to stay at their home Northanger Abbey soon follows - which delights Catherine not least because of the prospect of staying in an abbey.

As ever Jane Austen creates some lovable characters and some thoroughly objectionable ones - such as John Thorpe who does his best to break up Catherine's friendship with the Tilneys. I laughed over some of it and even cried towards the end. What is it about audio books which brings stories to life? I wonder whether it is that it reminds me of being read to as a child? Who knows? I know I find it relaxing to listen to them - especially Jane Austen - and now have 5 of her 6 novels in unabridged format. I am also re-reading the text as well and have read Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and have just started Mansfield Park. I have yet to but an unabridged edition of Persuasion - that is next on my list.

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