Such thing as too many novels?

Do novels have an innate morality, and is it possible to OD on them? Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's opportunity to wax eloquent in defense of fiction in general while taking a few not-so-subtle stabs at the melodramatic novels that gave fiction its reputation at the time. Considering the awesome content of the book, I've always been amazed by its relative obscurity and the impression most people inexplicably have that it is a dull story. The writing is hilarious, the characters intriguing, and the storyline a highly entertaining parody that still manages to contain more than a grain of truth. This from a kid who had a hard time making it through the Jane Austen monster masterpieces Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. I always thought that Northanger Abbey would make a great movie, but when people kept telling me they fell asleep watching the older version, I somehow never got around to watching it. I'm not sure why it took me so long to see the 2007 version, but of course now it has been so many years since I read the book that I really don't know how faithfully I remember the intricacies of the story. I seem to recall a few differences of character, and a little less.... er... raciness in the original novel, but otherwise I the movie matched my memory fairly well, being almost as melodramatic and painful and delightful.

The story follows Catherine Morland, a daydreaming young woman who, we are informed on the first page, comes from far too stable and loving a home to really be supposed a heroine. Felicity Jones does a marvelous job portraying a character of whom Austen says "her heart was affectionate, her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind--her manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty--and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is."

Unsurprisingly, sweet and simple Catherine is swept from her happy home into the path of societal convention and conniving through her friendships with the flirtatious Isabella and the kindhearted Eleanor as well as the attentions of each girl's brother, two gentlemen who are respectively, one might say, too oblivious and too self-aware to be traditional heroes.
Eager to discover that life imitates art, Catherine imagines a romantically dreadful gothic horror backstory for Northanger Abbey, the home of her friends Henry and Eleanor. Her search uncovers some unpleasant truths that threaten to cause irreparable damage...

But being a Jane Austen novel, lessons are learned, the requisite scandals occur at a tidy distance, and love is ultimately triumphant for our unconventional hero and heroine. And Northanger Abbey is both a refreshing change from and a complementary member of the Jane Austen gold standard.
5 sprinkles of fairy dust:

I have yet to actually read a Jane Austen book... but maybe I should watch the movie ;-)

awwww! I LOVE Jane Austen!!

ok, This is totally off-topic, but, I just nominated you for the Sunshine Blog Award :) By visiting my blog and "accepting" the award, you can in turn pass it on! Enjoy!

My sister and I listened to Northanger Abbey on CD years ago. And, I just put the movie on hold from our library. Thank you. :)

I've seen this movie once and really enjoyed it! Now I should get the book to read.

Many years ago, Andrew Davie's screen adaptation of Northanger Abbey sort of "landed" in my lap. It had been sold to Mirimax, around the same time that they produced Mansfield Park. I was a daily contributor to The Republic of Pemberley at the time, and one of the few ppl there who claimed Northanger Abbey as my favorite JA novel. I guess that's how the script landed in my lap. Anyway, I was thrilled when Masterpiece FINALLY turned the script into a film. The older BBC version is... well... OLD. But I had loved it for a long time. Masterpiece/Davie's version: SO MUCH BETTER. Though I prefer the Henry Tilney (favorite literary hero!) of the BBC version. Anyway, I don't understand why people don't take NA more seriously. Particularly after reading some Ann Radcliffe. LOL.