Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
Finally, I am all caught up with The Austen Project! There really are no excuses for me to put off The Lizzie Bennet Diaries now. Ahem. Anyway, I went into Northanger Abbey with high hopes, because I genuinely like the original sooooo much. I did my Master’s Thesis on the two film adaptations (the 1980s film is suuuuper campy and not all that great, the 2007 film is deliciously aces and full of female sexual empowerment in ways that Jane Austen would totally approve of in the 21st century, in my opinion), so you might say this has a special place in my heart. I also think that this adaptation will belong there, too.
Catherine Morland, known as Cat, is sensitive, empathetic, and highly imaginative. Her latest obsession is vampire novels, which fuel her taste for horror and suspense. A chance trip to Bath with her neighbors brings her into touch with the witty Henry Tilney and his sister Elinor, along with the odious John Thorpe and his sister, Bella. Cat has a lot to learn about the world, but in the meantime, she papers it with her own interior workings and novelistic imagination.
The only flaw this book has is some uneven pacing in the middle. The beginning and end are tightly crafted and flow well. The vampire romance angle is hysterical, because really, it’s our equivalent of Gothic novels today. [Also, if you’ve never read The Monk, you really, really must. It’s full of randy priests and boobs and Satan. NO,SERIOUSLY. It’s the best campiest time, and I totally get why Jane Austen would make fun of people who took it seriously] We can all agree that nothing can match wits with the divine Ms. Austen, but I argue that Val McDermid took seriously her task in making an old novel come to life in a new era. It’s highly worth the read. I can’t decide if this is better than Emma. Either way, it’s worth a solid 4.5 stars.