Updating Northanger Abbey, and an Excerpt

Updating Northanger Abbey, and an Excerpt

This summer, I’m having lots of fun writing a modern retelling of Northanger Abbey. Like Catherine Moreland, I love a good mystery, so parodying mystery books and movies comes pretty easily to me. I especially love the old Hitchcock movies with Cary Grant in them, so my readers can expect quite a few nods to Hitchcock, as well as to Austen.

One of my rules for writing a satisfying retelling is to know which scenes are reader favorites. For example, I wouldn’t want to write a modern Persuasion without having a letter from Captain Wentworth at the end, nor would I want to skip Darcy’s insult to Elizabeth at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice. I plan to include as many favorite scenes as I can in this book, and I would love to know which scenes you like best in Northanger Abbey.

One of my favorite scenes from the beginning of Northanger Abbey is when Henry Tilney compares dancing to marriage. It’s such a cute way for him to flirt with her, but it’s not so easy to translate into a modern setting. Nowadays, marriage proposals don’t happen quite as instantly, and men who talk about marriage on the first date would generally come across as creepy. I tried to find a balance by having my female character introduce the idea of marriage.

Here’s my version of the scene:

“I’m still sorry about your phone. How can I make it up to you?” He traced the edge of my menu with his finger. “All I want is a half-hour of your time, and our friend Clayton has already stolen a good five minutes of it.”

“He probably didn’t see it as stealing.”

He winked. “Well, he should have. It’s an accepted fact in the male world that when you ask a woman to lunch, you don’t want anyone else tagging along. A lunch date is a sacred contract between a man and woman.”

“You make it sound like marriage or something.” There I went again, speaking before I thought things through. My cheeks were probably flaming red by now.

He chuckled. Good thing he didn’t take me too seriously. “I wouldn’t go that far, but in some ways, it’s similar. We’ve entered into an agreement that we’ll spend the next half-hour with each other. You won’t be distracted by other men. I won’t be distracted by other women.”

“If that’s all it includes, I can keep my end of the bargain,” I said.

He reached out, tracing the tip of his finger over the top of my hand. “Well, there is a little more. We must put up with each other through sickness and health. For better or for worse. ‘Til dessert do we part.”

“Until dessert do we part,” I repeated.

Thank you for stopping by, and please let me know which parts of Northanger Abbey you like best. I’d also love to know if you have a favorite movie version. It seems most people prefer the 2007 version with Felicity Jones. That’s the one pictured at the beginning of this post. There’s also a Northanger Abbey from 1987, pictured below. I enjoyed both movies.


16 Responses to Updating Northanger Abbey, and an Excerpt

  1. 2007 with JJ Feild

    I like the scene where he wipes mud off of her face after riding horses together and the kiss at the end.

  2. This is my favorite Austen book. It is so true to today! I always think of the the scene with the carriages and Thorpe bragging, compare to today’s vehicles, and talking of drinking and partying at college. Teens and young adults are the same in all times.

  3. I first saw and fell in love with the ’87 version. There is just something about that movie that appeals to the Gothic tone of her reading books for adventure. The dream sequence is overboard but cute. The last scene in the ’87 movie was ‘the hero moment’ that I always love. Of course I love JJ Feild. My favorite scene is when they are in the garden and he proposes… that kiss is so cute. Blessings on launch and thank you for the generous give-a-way.

  4. Enjoyed the excerpt, especially the last line. I have only ever seen the version with Felicity Jones. I’ll have to try to track down the other version to see how it compares.

  5. Looking forward to this one, Rebecca. One of my favorite Christian writers did a modern series of Austen’s titles. Debra White Smith’s books hold a special place on my book shelf. Writing modern Austen tales have their challenges. For example, no one would think twice of Wickham and Lydia eloping to Vegas, but an elopement in Austen’s time held ramifications for the family of the girl. I wish you well in this endeavor.

    • I’ll have to check her out. I used to avoid reading other modern versions because I was afraid I might end up copying them, but I’ve found that we all tend to do things very differently, so it just ends up helping me be more creative. Thank you for the recommendation!

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