How much do I want this Jane Austen action figure? SO MUCH.
I am totally ordering it. Tonight.
So I've never understood why Northanger Abbey is Jane's least popular novel. (Excepting, of course, the extremely vocal anti-Fanny Price set.) I suppose the lack of interest is because it's so different from her other works. Or is it? This week I picked it up late one night when I was having trouble sleeping. Something about it called to me, so I thought I'd read just a passage or two -- and I ended up reading the whole thing again.
From its defense of novels ("in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed ... in the best chosen language") to its dialogue, which crackles and sparkles off the page (Henry Tilney's teasing -- I'd kill to write like that!), it's one of her smartest, funniest works.
Although it's often discussed as a parody of the Gothic novel, it's also a Gothic novel itself. Jane cleverly twists the usual predicaments to fit modern society, such as the neglect of the heroine (the Allens and the Thorpes are only interested in themselves), abduction of the heroine (pressured into carriage rides against her better judgement), and, of course, the Evil Villain. General Tilney may not be guilty of the deed Catherine suspects, but the way he places her life at risk is arguably the worst crime in all of Austen.
It's quite thrilling.
And what's not to love about Henry Tilney? He's handsome, clever, sarcastic, and sympathetic, not to mention a novel reader, a dog lover, an attentive brother, and a little bit messy. And he gives up everything for her.
The moment he discovers Catherine in his mother's chamber is one of the most mortifying scenes ever written. I feel her shame even more than Emma's in the famous Box Hill incident.
As soon as I finished re-reading it, naturally, I had to re-view the film. If you haven't had the pleasure, check out this delicious Tilney highlight reel:
Don't you want to see it now? I thought so. Just make sure you get the DVD. After doing my research tonight, I discovered that the version I taped off PBS is actually missing scenes. How dare they?! Now I have to buy it to see the rest.
During my obsessive Googling, I also discovered several wonderful Jane Austen blogs. These three were my favorite:
Jane Austen Today (which led me to the above video)
Jane Austen's World
Glad I'm not the only one obsessed!