So despite my kind of lukewarm feelings towards last week's new adaptation of Persuasion, I was really looking forward to this week's Northanger Abbey, because I'd never read the book or seen any adaptation of it, and wow, I was not disappointed. I totally loved it, I think I want to buy it on DVD, and I want to read the book now!
Northanger Abbey is really kind of different from Jane Austen's other novels...it's her first novel, and is supposed to be kind of a parody of Gothic novels. The story is much more light and is really funny. Money does play a part, but there are no family estates being entailed away to cousins because of a lack of female heirs, no fear of destitution, and the main character, Catherine, isn't even really looking to get married. I really liked Catherine...the novel and the movie both start by saying that no one who knew her would suppose her to be a heroine, and that's because she's pretty average. She's 17, one of a large family of 10 children with sensible parents, who gets invited to spend some time in Bath with a wealthy, childless couple from her neighborhood. She's honest and cheerful and smart, and while I usually don't like those kind of girls that don't realize how pretty they are, I really bought it here because she'd never really been "out" in society before going to Bath.
As for the hero of the story, Henry Tilney...I just loved him. Darcy and Wentworth still top my list of Austen romantic heroes, but I think Mr. Tilney's really more the type of guy I'd realistically want for myself. He's friendly and warm and kind of snarky and sarcastic, which I was not expecting at all but was kind of awesome. He and Catherine aren't some great love story, but they're very cute together, and there's really no competition for either of their affections. Another man, John Thorpe, pursues Catherine, but she instantly dislikes him, and for good reason...he's conceited and loud and crass (which is actually kind of amusing because you know he doesn't have any chance whatsoever). I loved the proposal scene with Catherine and Henry...they were both so nervous and excited and was just simpler and happier than the more baggage-filled scenes from Austen's other stories.
And the movie just had so many little moments that really made me crack up, like Catherine's silly Gothic fantasy sequences, and when she and Mrs. Allen first go to the rooms in Bath, and her little sisters squealing "Mr. Tilney, Mr. Tilney" when he comes to see her at the end. Really fun stuff.