Austen's parody of a gothic novel gets an elegant narration to match its elegant prose. Sheltered Catherine Morland goes to fashionable Bath with a wealthy neighbor and discovers society and love. Juliet Stevenson gives each character a unique voice - the duplicitous Isabelle; Catherine's suitor, Henry Tinley; and Catherine's vacuous hostess - and invests each conversation with energy and importance. At the same time, as Austen, Stevenson steps back and comments on gothic heroines and Catherine's failures at becoming one. The delivery of Henry's fanciful description of the Abbey as a dark and mysterious place is a mini-classic in itself. Those who love Austen's fiction will appreciate this classy production.
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"Stevenson is brilliant at catching the teeth-grating tone of Austen's silliest, most annoying characters and intuiting the nuanced personalities of her heroines. She has great fun with the interplay between Catherine Moreland's thrall to the gothic fantasy and the coolly restrained fictional mode of the author." Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times
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This is a minor novel by Jane Austen. It's short in length but has the same wit as her other books. I found it delightful to listen to. The narrator, Juliet Stevenson, was perfect in her rendition of the character's voices, including the male voices.
There is no such thing as a bad Jane Austen novel, and Northanger Abbey is good. However, in my opinion, the herorine is not in the same class as Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice), Emma (Emma) , Ann (Persuasion) or either of the sisters in Sense and Sensability. Maybe I don't like her as well because this was abridged and I did not get her full character, but I am afraid that she is just not as bright, clever, likeable or sensible as other Austen female characters. That is why I gave four stars rather than five. One day, when I don't have anything else to read, I may try reading the unabridged book of Northanger Abbey because Jane Austen is my favorite author of all time and surely she didn't let me down with Northanger Abbey!
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