The only thing I knew about this book before starting it is that it is a parody of the Gothic novel, a popular genre from the 18th century. Gothic novels were often set in “exotic” locales like Italy and featured brooding heros, castles, thunderstorms and climactic moments set on precipices.
So that’s what I was expecting of Northanger Abbey. However, the parody here lies more in the main character of Catherine, who, as a big reader of Gothic novels, imbues her world with sinister imaginings that never come to pass.
The first of Jane Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey isn’t her best work. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with the characters or the narrative and so it wanders until hastily wrapping up in the last two pages. However, one can see Austen’s characteristic writing style blooming, and for that (and the fact that the book is quite short), it is worth reading.