Northanger Abbey is a perfectly aimed literary parody that is also a withering satire of the commercial aspects of marriage among the English gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century. But most of all, it is the story of the initiation into life of its naïve but sweetly appealing heroine, Catherine Morland, a willing victim of the contemporary craze for Gothic literature who is determined to see herself as the heroine of a dark and thrilling romance. When she is invited to Northanger Abbey, the grand though forbidding ancestral seat of her suitor, Henry Tilney, she finds herself embroiled in a real drama of misapprehension, mistreatment, and mortification, until common sense and humor—and a crucial clarification of Catherine's financial status—resolve her problems and win her the approval of Henry's formidable father.
Written in 1798 but not published until after Austen's death in 1817, Northanger Abbey is characteristically clearheaded and strong, and infinitely subtle in its comedy.
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