This week I finished Emma and Northanger Abbey. These were the last two Jane Austen novels that I had not read. I loved both of them, but I’d rank Emma 5 of 5 stars and Northanger Abbey 4 of 5.
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUT BOTH BOOKS BELOW
I found Emma to be a more perfect and complicated novel. I knew she was not going to end up with Frank Churchill, but I did not have a clue how Miss Austen was going to transfer my strong affections from Mr. Churchill to Mr. Knightly by the end of the novel, so that I would be satisfied with the ending. However, transfer them she did, and I was pleased with the result. Mr. Knightly is no Mr. Darcy or Captain Wentworth, and it is a bit creepy that he’s so much older than she is and has loved her since she was 13. But not nearly as boring or as wishy-washy as Edmund in Mansfield Park. It was also exceedingly funny; Mrs. Elton is perfectly horrid and all the more humorous for it. But I think what I like most about the novel is Emma herself.
She is such a great character – bold, funny, smart, good tempered andacutely aware of her failures and shortcomings (after the fact). She’s so sure of herself that it makes it all the more interesting when her plans go awry.
It was very easy for me to love Northanger Abbey. Catherine is so fond of novels and it affects her thinking and has humous consequences. However, Isabelle and John Thorpe were the most loathsome characters I encountered while reading any Jane Austen novel. They weren’t comically terrible (like Mr. Collins, Mrs. Elton, or Mary Musgrove), they were just completely horrid. I really like Henry, he’s an excellent love interest. But the resolution was underwhelming, considering how painful Catherine’s removal from Northanger Abbey was. Also lacking was the final culmination of Henry’s declaration of love. It did not hold up compared to Captain Wentworth’s letter, or Mr. Darcy’s second confession of love to Elizabeth. Despite all this, I greatly enjoyed the book. I liked that it moved quickly and was pretty suspenseful. (I did have to google “pump room” though, and find out exactly what it was. The name sounds horrifying.)
Words and phrases I now use too much, as a result of spending over a month engrossed in three Jane Austen novels: exceedingly, loathsome, irksome, pray tell me, upon my word, obliging and indeed. If only I could always stay immersed in Jane Austen’s world. :)
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