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.