Friday, January 8, 2016


Ms. Hen drinks coffee from her Jane Austen mug

Jane Austen
First published 1818

Ms. Hen enjoys reading Jane Austen during Christmastime. She usually finds that Christmas either occurs in a Jane Austen novel, or it is mentioned in passing. After completing NORTHANGER ABBEY, Ms. Hen has read every Jane Austen novel. She is very proud of this, but she’s not sure how it matters on her resume.

This novel starts like a typical Austen novel. The theme Austen loves to portray could be termed as, “Young Women Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” Catherine, the novel’s heroine, is sent to Bath for a holiday of merrymaking during the Season with her family’s neighbors and friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. She is taken around town with Mrs. Allen, and at first they complain that they don’t know anyone, but eventually they make some friends, first with the Tilneys, then with Mrs. Thorpe and her family.

Catherine thinks that she likes Henry Tilney, but she’s not sure if he likes her. John Thorpe is loud and brutish, and obviously has his eyes on Catherine. Catherine’s brother, James fancies Isabella Thorpe, and eventually they become engaged. Catherine is happy that she will become sisters with her new friend.

Catherine is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey, the Tilney’s estate, by General Tileny to spend time with Henry and his sister, Eleanor. Henry attempts to frighten Catherine on the way to Northanger Abbey by telling her scary stories about the artifacts and secret passages she might find at their place.

This is where the novel takes a turn and becomes something that is not like a Jane Austen novel. Catherine is terrified of being in her room at night in the huge abbey, so she searches through the dressers and trunks. Ms. Hen thought the novel would become like a ghost story and horrors would occur, such as in Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN. But the horrors did not occur. Ms Hen waited for them, but the terror subsided and the story went back to one about a young woman looking for love.

Ms. Hen will not give away the ending, but there are lots of twists, and she was surprised at what happened at the end. She was impressed that she did not know what was going to happen, but that is the genius of Miss Austen.

There is one place chickens are mentioned in NORTHANGER ABBEY,  “…though whenever she could obtain the outside of a letter from her mother, or seize upon any other piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees, hens and chickens…” There are also two places where Christmas is mentioned, even though Christmas does not occur in the novel.

Some elements appear in NORTHANGER ABBEY that become the titles and subjects of her more famous novels. The idea of sensibility is mentioned, as well as pride, and persuasion. Ms. Hen thought that Miss Austen might have been contemplating those ideas long before she wrote those novels.

NOTHANGER ABBEY was not the first novel Jane Austen published, but it was the first one she wrote. A publishing company bought the novel and never published it. NORTHANGER ABBEY was published posthumously.

Ms. Hen loved this novel, but she doesn’t think it’s one of Austen’s best. She thinks EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE surpass this novel in complexity and depth of characters. Ms. Hen takes into account that NORTHANGER ABBEY was her first novel. However, Ms. Hen cannot give Jane Austen any less than five feathers up, because, Ms. Hen thinks she is one of the greatest writers that ever lived, because she understood the human condition and her portrayal of emotions still resonates to this day.

Trial photo interrupted by the cat, Mikki 

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