Ever feel such a connection to one of Jane’s books that you’re possessive? Yeah, me too. You see, Northanger Abbey is my favorite and no one will ever love it as much as I do. Think I’m wrong? Well, let’s see, shall we?
How did you become JA fan?
For me, I arrived late to the party. Having never read the books in school, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties and a friend of mine showed me Bridget Jones Diary. I didn’t really get it. Sure, Firth was cute, but I didn’t really understand until I watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Then, the fever took hold.
After I watched, I had to read it and there opened the world of Jane Austen to me. First Pride and Prejudice then Emma, Mansfield Park, the list goes on. It wasn’t until I reach Northanger Abbey that I found my favorite.
Now, most people don’t recommend NA because it’s not a favorite of a lot of people. In fact, being her first novel written, some people even snub it. But for me, it sums up my life completely.
I’ve always lived my life in books and stories whether I created them or I read other author’s work. Northanger Abbey spoke to me more than just another story to escape to.
First, I’m a horror addict, so Catherine’s story appeals to me because she is a horror enthusiast. She is like me and my friends. She’s one of us, imagining our lives are gothic tales where the big bad is around every corner.
Second, Northanger read surprisingly like something I had written myself. The first novel I ever wrote when I was ten. I wasn’t going to be a novelist—my dream was to be a singer—but I had this fabulous idea that everyone would want to read my work too. Fifty-six pages of big, bubbly, pencil writing later, I had my masterpiece. A tale about a teen actress who lives her life in a fantasy where she is the star of every situation. She encounters horrors (her plane to Paris being hijacked by a terrorist group) and deals with them as if she is an action star despite her being young and having never handled a gun before. But it isn’t that I feel I am so great having written something very like Jane. It’s more, because I had penned something similar, it made me feel closer to the writer herself. She was once like me. We both lived in minister households and had to find some way to escape the restricted and unvarying life we had.
Northanger Abbey features a young girl caught up in fantasy who learns through a series of events that you can’t live your entire life in a novel. And if you did it wouldn’t be that great of a life anyway. While my novel involved teen actors in the modern world, my lead player was like Catherine Morland. Young, unaware of the real world and living her life like the pages of a book where she found everything more excited when wrapped in a gothic world view.
Now, mine was not a piece of art like Jane’s is. In fact, I’ve been repeatedly made fun of from a certain quote, “They went to the most expensive stores like K-mart and Target.” However, I found a connection to Jane through it. Not because we’re both writers, but because we were both young women with overactive imaginations and through the story, are almost chastising ourselves for our wild ideas. If you study both of our first novels—and no, mine will never be in print lol—you’ll find our fears when growing up. We lived in novels most of the time and our imaginations were always getting us in trouble. We were disinterested in the real world and by writing this storyline, we were advising ourselves (although I didn’t realize it then and she probably didn’t either) that we couldn’t always live in fictional worlds, while at the same time enjoying every minute of it.
What is your favorite Jane Austen novel and is there a reason that it connects with you so intimately? I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below.