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Northanger Abbey Performance

Northanger Abbey: An Audible Original Drama

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Publisher's Summary

A coming-of-age tale for the young and naïve 17-year-old Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey takes a decidedly comical look at themes of class, family, love and literature. Revelling in the sensationalist - and extremely popular - Gothic fiction of her day, the story follows Catherine out of Bath to the lofty manor of the Tilneys, where her overactive imagination gets to work constructing an absurd and melodramatic explanation for the death of Mrs Tilney, which threatens to jeopardise her newly forged friendships.

This Audible Originals production of Northanger Abbey stars Emma Thompson (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA winner, Love Actually, Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility), Lily Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Snow White and the Huntsman, St. Trinian's), Douglas Booth (Noah, Great Expectations, The Riot Club), Jeremy Irvine (Warhorse, The Railway Man, Now Is Good), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, The Illusionist, Alice in Wonderland) and Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass 2), amongst others.

Public Domain (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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What the Critics Say

"Impressive." (Harper's Bazaar)

"This new production marries the author's wit, charm and dry humour with performances from some of the UK's leading actors." (Psychologies)

"A wonderful new dramatisation." (The Times)

"Emma Thompson leads a large, glitzy cast." (Economist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    S Plateau London 31/07/2017
    S Plateau London 31/07/2017 Member Since 2013
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    "Austen's best work brought to life"

    Northanger Abbey is often overshadowed by Jane Austen's other greats such as Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. However I think that it is some of her best work, bringing just the right amount of drama, romance and heartache into a brilliant story.

    The cast is absolutely fantastic, with once again the amazing Emma Thompson perfectly capturing Austen's dry sense of humour and wit within the text. Ella Purnell really brings to life the innocence and naivety of Catherine and Jeremy Irvine makes Henry a lovable bachelor.

    I'd highly recommend this to anyone, it's a really enjoyable listen with a great cast to match.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FictionFan 19/11/2017
    FictionFan 19/11/2017
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    "Horridly excellent!"

    Northanger Abbey is the most deliciously light of all of Austen’s books, filled with humour as Austen pokes gentle fun at her own class and gender. Catherine Morland is our naïve 17-year-old heroine, leaving her country parsonage home for the first time to visit the bright lights of Bath in the company of her generous neighbours, the Allens. Starry-eyed and romantic, and with an obsessive love of the Gothic sensation fiction of the day, Catherine is ready to be thrilled by everything and everyone she meets. Having reviewed the book before, I'm concentrating here on the production and performances in Audible's new dramatisation of it.

    This is done as half narration and half dramatisation. The narration is done superbly by Emma Thompson, someone who truly 'gets' Austen as anyone who has watched her performance in the wonderful 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility will know – a film for which she also wrote the script. In this one, she goes all out to bring out the humour in the script, and her affectionately ridiculing tone and excellent comic timing had me laughing aloud time and time again. It truly feels to me as if she's channelling Austen – I suspect if Jane read her manuscript aloud to her family, she'd have delivered it just like this, with the same fond teasing of our delightful Catherine and the same gasping drama over the Gothic horror elements, played strictly for laughs. Thompson verges perilously close to going over the top at points, but is far too masterful to actually do so. Part of me wished this was a straight narration – and I really would like her to narrate all the Austen novels, please, when she has a moment to spare.

    That's not to suggest I didn't enjoy the dramatised elements too – I did, very much. The young cast were largely unknown to me, since I don't watch much TV or film, but several of them have impressive lists of credits to their names already. Each turned in a fine performance here with no weak links in the chain.

    The role of Catherine is vital, and Ella Purnell does an excellent job in portraying the youthful naivety that sometimes leads her into foolish behaviour. She brings great charm to the role, with the same infectious good humour that makes Catherine such a likeable heroine on the page. Henry, I always feel, is a harder role to pull off, since frankly he's so patronising to our lovely Catherine and his sister Eleanor that I often have an uncontrollable desire to hit him over the head with a well-filled reticule. So I was very impressed with the way Jeremy Irvine was able to navigate that aspect with such a degree of warmth in his tone that I found it easy to forgive him and to understand Catherine's attraction to him. (And bear in mind, girls, that I didn't even have the advantage of being able to see him... except perhaps in my mind's eye... ;) )

    Douglas Booth and Lily Cole are both nicely unlikeable as the baddies John and Isabella Thorpe (Boo! Hiss!), Booth managing with aplomb all John's boastful silliness about his horses and so on, while Cole drips delicious insincerity with every word. As the sensible one, Eleanor Tilney can tend to be somewhat dull as a character, but Eleanor Tomlinson gives her some much needed vivacity, while in the big dramatic scene near the end, she brings out beautifully all her distress and embarrassment. My other favourite is Mrs Allen, played by Anna Chancellor. Again she can be a tricky character; her rather silly empty-headedness and obsession with clothes could easily be annoying in the wrong hands, but Chancellor brings out her affectionate nature and the true warmth of her feelings towards Catherine, and the script is very humorous at showing how she allows her husband to form all her opinions for her.

    Directed by Catherine Thompson, the production itself is fun with all the appropriate sound effects of carriages rattling along the roads, dramatic music for the Abbey horror scenes and delightful dance music during all the various balls. The balance between narration and dramatisation is good and I find this format works particularly well for audio – better than either alone for me. The bursts of dramatisation hold my attention in a way that an unbroken narration, however good, sometimes doesn't; while the narration gives an opportunity to hear the author's voice and fill out the background that's sometimes missed when a book is reduced completely to dialogue. The script too, by Anna Lea, is excellent, sticking as it should entirely to Austen's own words. I felt it had been a little abridged, not just for the linking parts in the dialogue to make it work as a dramatisation, but also in some of the narrated parts. But if so, the abridgement is done smoothly and none of the important elements have been cut.

    So another excellent audio drama from Audible, who seem to be producing more and more of these, and casting them with some of our top performers. Keep them coming, I say! And as for this one – highly recommended!

    NB This audio drama was provided for review by Audible UK via MidasPR.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nigel Berkshire, UK 13/08/2017
    Nigel Berkshire, UK 13/08/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Oh dear, could only take 36 minutes of this"


    Was looking forward to listening to this star-studded Audible release, but found it unbearable.

    Am quite happy for audio-dramas to be part-narration, like ‘The Forsytes sage’ which is excellent, but Emma Thompson’s narration was too long and far too fast. It just wasn’t a relaxing listen so kept zoning out. Needed more drama, less narration.

    In all the many books I have bought from Audible, this is only the second I’m sending back. Such a shame.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Malie Lalor UK 21/07/2017
    Malie Lalor UK 21/07/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Lovely dramatisation of a favourite Austen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Northanger Abbey to be better than the print version?

    I think if you're an Austen fan you need to own the print, the wonderful unabridged audio version narrated by Juliet Stevenson, AND this great dramatisation for your life to be complete.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Emma Thompson is brilliant as the arch and sympathetic narrator. Eleanor Tomlinson in particular is wonderful as Miss Tilney and I would love to listen to other books read by her. The other characters are all very well performed though Isabella isn't exactly how I imagined her.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, definitely. I'm sure I'd listen to it again.


    Any additional comments?

    So satisfying having a leisurely adaptation that gives a pretty much unabridged version of this Austen rather than a brief 2- or 3-hour version. Hope Audible Studios will give all the other Austens this treatment, and a few other classics too!

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 13/02/2018 Member Since 2017
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    "Dramatised Northanger Abbey"
    Any additional comments?

    Lovely adaptation and Emma Thompson as the narrator/Jane is superb. However this was my first dramatised audible book and it took a bit of getting used to. The background noises were very off putting and sometimes it was a little difficult to understand which character was speaking. Having said all that, it was very enjoyable!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Marie grice 29/12/2017
    Marie grice 29/12/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "wonderful."

    enjoyed immensely. story was exceptional and read well bringing to life the characters. beautiful book to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06/12/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Northanger Abby "

    Have enjoyed listening to this audiobook ,beautifully read the characters come to life in every chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 28/11/2017
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    "a delightful treat"

    This is an excellent, evocative and absorbing adaptation of the book. it brings it to life for you and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast is a pleasure to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    C. Mcewan Edinburgh, Lothian United Kingdom 14/08/2017
    C. Mcewan Edinburgh, Lothian United Kingdom 14/08/2017 Member Since 2018
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    "a lively and enjoyable version"

    beautifully narrated by Emma Thompson. the story has really been brought to life with a fresh angle on tonality and sentiment. loved It!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Dunstable, United Kingdom 04/08/2017
    Sue Dunstable, United Kingdom 04/08/2017 Member Since 2018
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    "Joyfully Done."

    i first read this as a teenager and was swept up in the romance, totally missing the slight silliness of the heroine.
    This adaptation looks at her squarely, but with great affection, for what she is, a very young, very naive girl, oblivious to other people's schemes.
    I don't remember the gentle humour at her overblown, over-dramatic gushiyness but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I don't understand the criticisms of other reviewers for the narrator, and the idea that she is an American is hysterical!
    Emma Thompson plays the part of Jane Austin brilliantly. Her love for her heroine is clear but she is not blind to her failings. The pace of the narration moves with the pace of the narrative and I adored it.
    I'm off now to read the book to compare it to this adaptation and see what I missed as a girl.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Emily - Audible
    NJ, United States
    21/07/17
    Overall
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    "A Treasure"

    Northanger Abbey has always been one of my favorite Austen stories (along with Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and… oh). Anyway—it ranks WAY higher than Mansfield Park, at least. But I’ve always loved that it’s Austen’s most obvious play at satire, demonstrating, perhaps ironically (or maybe, given Austen’s own life, not at all) what kind of trouble a wild imagination can get a young woman into. So it lends itself beautifully to this new high-spirited, and very funny, dramatization. It even seems that Austen has herself been cast as the omniscient and wise narrator (and who else more fully embodies those qualities than the brilliant Emma Thompson?). If you love a good comedy of manners, don’t miss this delightful audio-only treasure.

    52 of 54 people found this review helpful
  • D. Littman
    OH
    08/09/17
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    "There is no substitute for unabridged"

    This audiobook looked very good at first glance with an array of professional actor narrators handling a volume with much character dialogue. The Book has large sections of description and context which is lost by converting a long volume of text into a short play. In Austen as in many other novelists abridgment of this kind results in a huge loss. I'm afraid that reading or listening to a well narrated version of the entire book is superior to a skinnied down version. There is more than one unabridged version of this book available in audio.

    177 of 187 people found this review helpful
  • MegaReader
    15/11/17
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    "Hmmm, not a fan of this one. "

    I had forgotten how objectionable the characters were in this story, so right away I realized that I wasn’t liking the story itself.

    Add that to the fact that the volume for many of the performers was very low and background noise interference made it even harder to hear them without constantly adjusting the volume and it was pretty much doomed for me.

    Only bright light was the narration by Emma Thompson. She can make anything sound good.

    I’m sorry I bought this one.

    83 of 88 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    30/07/17
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    "Excellent story and performance"

    The Audible recording of Northanger Abbey is a wonderful presentation of this story by the celebrated author Jane Austen as expertly adapted by Anna Lea. The excellent actors, superb narration by the peerless Emma Thompson, and vivid production make NA a first-rate audio book.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • mary
    perth amboy, NJ, United States
    30/07/17
    Overall
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    "Simply Superb!"

    Jane Austen never disappoints of course, and of course this is one of my favorites, right upp there with... Well... Basically everything she ever wrote so never mind about that comment. But this production is amazing! The charm, the delightful story, the amazing actors, the writing, the everything, it's great. If you are in doubt, don't be. These were some of the best six hours of my life! Thank you Audible and to Ms. Austen as ever. I

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Carol
    Haines, AK, United States
    28/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "I wish for more stars to fill in"

    Every Jane Austin is my favorite. I go back to listen to each repeatedly. I must admit I did not adequately appreciate the wry humor of Northanger Abbey until listening to this production. It may now be my favorite.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Boyd
    WASHOUGAL, WA, United States
    30/07/17
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    "Great surprise"

    Although I have attained a fairly great age, I had never read Northanger Abbey. As the story progressed I thought it rather slow moving, however, halfway through the tale picked up for my interest and kept me engaged to make it one of the few audiobooks I completed in less than a day.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Carol Albers
    11/01/18
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    "A valiant effort, but..."

    The actors are excellent. The narration is lovely, especially Emma Thompson. However, the editing to format it as a play loses so much of the beauty of the language of Jane Austen, that we are left with just the rather insipid plot. This would be a huge success if it could contain more of the novel, and all the dialogue Austin used (but of course, that would be so expensive it could never happen!)

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Lindy R
    02/01/18
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I had to stop listening"

    I agree with another reviewer that the background noise, such as clanging of tea cups and silverware, made it difficult to concentrate on the actors and actresses. Emma Thompson is always perfect, and the other female actors were good. I also agree with the other reviewer that the male actors were wooden and unconvincing. I listen to audio books during my 45 commute to and from work. They help me relax and traffic doesn't bother me as much. I couldn't finish this audio book, because the background noise was irritating.

    29 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • if it's not baroque
    USA
    01/01/18
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amusing audio experience"

    Abridged telling of Austen's first published novel which amuses the listener, but the adaptation does edit out too much of the gothic satire so central to the original work. I would recommend this to someone who has already read the unabridged book, but I suppose it could work for someone trying to ease in to Austen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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