Rewriting Northanger Abbey

Rewriting Northanger Abbey

Northanger AbbeyCatherine Morland is a character like few others. First, she is the reaction of Jane Austen. That alone makes her special. However, she is also the first protagonist of the Jane Austen classics.

Let’s face it. If you are reading this, you are a romantic. And if you are a romantic, you love the idea of the heart palpitating because of a man’s simple gloved touch or his gaze over the heads of the other patrons at a ball.

But what is romance?

Back in the early 1800s, romance was something much different than what we think of it today in the 2010s. Personally, when I hear about a young woman marrying a man in the cultures that I study (Amish in particular), I get goose bumps. My own inclination to embrace romance stories gives me chills. After all, when it comes to my own husband, I did not like him, but he turned out to be my knight in shining armor. A little bit of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy??

Anyway, currently I am rewriting Northanger Abbey and I am finding that I like Catherine Morland very much. She is young and naïve. She can read books but not people. And she finds herself dipped in the world of fantasy which overtakes her reality. That is my kind of gal. She’s quite different than Elizabeth or Emma or Anne. She is her own person with her own background. Even more so, Catherine Morland is an amazing character who dives into the novels that she reads. She embraces the fantasy more than the reality.

But isn’t that the way that life is? Don’t we often steep ourselves in the falsehoods of fantasy and deny ourselves reality? Catherine Morland is a sensible girl who finds herself caught into this trap. How many of us have found ourselves in the same situation? The difference is that she quickly learns to accept her shortcomings and accept those of others. And that is the lesson to be learned in this classic by Jane Austen.

6 Responses to Rewriting Northanger Abbey

  1. Northanger Abbey is my favourite JA story by far, both the book and the movie, and of course the hero (be still my heart) and heroine. I laughed my way through both, they were so much fun! So I confess to being quite intrigued with your post, with your analysis of the characters, and with your re-imagining of the story, and so look forward to its completion so we can have our share in it. Any ETA?

  2. I’ve always enjoyed Northanger Abbey and thought it was under-appreciated by the JA fan crowd. When you’re in the right mood it is screamingly funny. And John Thorpe is, by far, the most irritating villain in any JA novel.

  3. I’ve always liked Catherine because fundamentally she knows when she’s being manipulated and what the right path is. She knows when her friends have acted badly and apologizes for the part that she played, even though she was usually at the mercy of others.

  4. Like Miss Morland, I too am a romantic at heart, because I love nothing better than a good love story. I often find that fantasy is a nice place to visit and I enjoy traveling there as often as possible.

    I thought the two movie adaptions of NA were adorable. I have two versions of the movie, the BBC 1986 with Katharine Schlesinger and Peter Firth, and the 2008 with J.J. Field and Felicity Jones. Both are adorable as they each capture the innocence and naiveté of our heroine Miss Morland who seems to be living one of her own fantasy stories.

    I wish you the best with the writing. I would love to see your take on the story. It sounds like it would be interesting.

  5. Sarah, Thank you for your thoughtful post. “A sensible girl who finds herself caught in this trap.” I love that line. Many of my non-JAFF books feature sensible girls caught in traps. Occasionally, I find myself chuckling as a reviewer might claim “no woman would make a choice like that.” I laugh because I am a sensible lady who uses her actual experiences/mistakes to fuel funny—often bittersweet—plots. I do believe no one is without a smidge of faulty judgment. 🙂

Your thoughts are precious!