A Parent’s Guide to Northanger Abbey (Book)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Type: Classic

Basic Plot: Catherine is sweet but naïve. Unfortunately she tends to be taken advantage of by others because of this or get herself humiliated. This only gets worse when she visits a friends home and believes that her Gothic novels are coming true.


Plot: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey’s plot has a good build up and climax, but unfortunately ends awkwardly. Jane Austen builds of the ideas of the story well and develops the relationships among the characters well also. The plot well shows her moral and has several humorous points to prove it. The only thing in the plot that was not as great as the rest of the book was the last few chapters. At the end of the book her characters are rushed through emotions and romance that seemed a bit out of character and a little cliché. Other than that though, the plot was well done.

Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey is one of the first novels Jane Austen wrote, so it is shorter than and not as graceful Pride and Prejudice or Emma, but it still has a lot of good things. Clever conversation is on of the main building blocks of the way Jane Austen writes. Jane Austen did not use a lot of description for places and people, but explained the nature of an area or the character of a person usually through speech. You can very well tell who is vain, innocent, or vulgar just by how they talk as well as the way they view things. Though Jane Austen mainly describes through this, when she does use an actual description it is still well don.

Moral: 4/5 Good Morals: The main moral of Northanger Abbey is to be careful of what influences you, especially books. Throughout the book Jane Austen greatly promotes novels and books for entertainment but shows that a person should choose the right kind of novels and entertainment as well as not read them in excess. Because Catherine reads Gothic novels in excess, she believes she is in a Gothic novel when she visits a friend and humiliates herself. Even though she is horribly humiliated, she learns to forgive herself, move on, and decides to do better next time. This is a good spirit to use when we deal with foolish actions or bad decisions.

Overall: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey is strongly recommended for quality. The plot, style, and moral are all strongly recommended. I believe that girls ages thirteen or fourteen and older would understand and appreciate it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slight Suggestive: Catherine’s mom tells her before Catherine goes to bath that she should be careful of “violent” men who may force her “away to some remote farmhouse.”

Violence: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Catherine wonders if a man has murdered his wife. Catherine thinks about villains in Gothic novels that were murderers and then had “a violent death.”

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1½/5 Some Utterances: “Lord” is misused seven times. God’s name is taken in vain at least five times. Swearing is never directly put in the book, but a character makes several exclamations that are printed like this “d—-.”

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1½/5 Suggested Content: Catherine wonders if a man has kidnapped his own wife. There is mention of blood, a dagger, and a torture device each once when having a conversation with another about. Catherine likes to read Gothic novels and mentions one with a skeleton. There is mention how Catherine does not sense anything “murderous” or fear “assassins.”

Religious Issues: ½/5 Briefly Mentioned Religious Content: There is mention of a convent, a nun, a clergyman. The home the Tilneys live in is an abbey.

Magic: ½/5 Briefly Mentioned Magic: A book containing Necromancer in its title is mentioned. A man says his mother looks like a “witch.” No magic is done in the book.

Others: A man (who is shown to be antagonistic) says that men often drink at college and should more. There is therefore mention of wine and liquer. It mentions once how Catherine is not anxious of any “drunken gallants.”

Overall: 1 ½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: The book is pretty clean and morally recommendable to almost all ages.

This review does not include commentary, forwards, or afterwords any version may have. It does not include the review, the prologue, or epilogue that a special version may have.

For a review of the movie version, Northanger Abbey, go here! https://christianentertainmentreviews.blog/2017/05/01/a-movie-review-of-northanger-abbey/


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