My love affair with the words of Jane Austen continues as I have just completed my third JA novel, Northanger Abbey. The previous two that I read were the obvious Pride and Prejudice and Emma – which I absolutely adored. I can see why Pride and Prejudice is popular though – it has a heroine in Elizabeth Bennett, a dashing but flawed leading man in Mr. Darcy and a sexy villain in Mr. Wickham (sigh, I’m still lusting after Mr. Wickham).
Emma is different as in the heroine, the namesake of the title, is so completely flawed that it makes one wonder why she is even considered a heroine. She’s snobbish, spoilt, argumentative and fairly manipulative but I love Emma. She seems so much more realistic than other classical heroines, yes she has flaws but she learns from her mistakes, and plus Mr. Knightly is my favourite out of all the Austenian leading men, instead of doting on Emma’s beauty and encouraging her holier-than-thou attitude, he challenges her, encourages her to be a better person and she’s grows up to become more considerate about she what does and who she affects. Plus Emma has my favourite JA quote: “Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another”.
Northanger Abbey was enjoyable but not enough to rival Pride and Prejudice or Emma in my opinion. It centers around Catherine a 18-year-old girl from a small town who accompanies a rich childless couple to a fashionable resort in Bath where she meets the most annoying character, Isabella (even more annoying then Lydia from Pride and Prejudice) and falls in love with the intelligent, older Henry Tilney. The book is basically about telling the difference between fantasy and reality, not letting your imagination run away with you. JA shows how naive Catherine is by depicting that she struggles at reading people even though she is an expert at reading books, she expects everyone to act like a character in the gothic novels that she reads but of course in reality people are a lot more complex then that. Many times people are not as good as you think they aught to be and sometimes those that you expect to overlook you are the ones that notice you the most. JA notes in Northanger Abbey that Catherine makes a grave mistake in falling in love with a man before she is aware that he feels the same way about her. That statement is so true, in a world where every second girl needs to be comforted because the object of their affections does not feel the same way, it would be wise to take JA’s advice on this one. Lets not let our imagination jump to our wedding day every time a cute guy smiles at us, lets wait and see what happens, he could just end up being an unemployed sadsack who was actually smiling at the doughnut behind you. Let’s give ourselves a little bit more respect and let love come to us – it worked for Catherine (although I am aware that Catherine is a fictional character and expecting life to be like a book is exactly what this book is warning against).