Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the first book she wrote but the last published.
It’s about the very young and naive Catherine Morland who has never ventured from her little home town of Fullerton her whole life until a very lovely older couple with no children offer to take her to Bath.
I have to admit I think I actually like this Austen book more than Pride and Prejudice, infact I think it’s perhaps my favourite of her books. I’ve always loved Austen’s books, mostly because of the author’s wit and delight in mocking the oddities in the people around her through characters with absurd personality traits, but also becuse of her very clever way of telling a story from only one perspective.
A lot of novels written recently feel the need to explain to the reader all the motives and reasons for each and every character by alternating between the viewpoints of the important people. I think this is too much information. I infinitely prefer to work out the motives of the other characters myself rather than have it told to me. In my opinion a good writer allows the reader to figure it out but doesn’t tell the reader what the other people are thinking at all. It shouldn’t be necessary.
Half the delight in reading a book is discovering all the delicious intricacies of each personality represented. Where is the fun if the writer tells the thoughts of each character? Is it not much more engaging to be left pondering as to the meaning of an action along with the character being affected?
Another reason I loved this book was because of Austen’s way she, on a few occasions, talked to the reader directly. She interrupted the description of Catherine reading a novel to explain her viewpoint on novels of that type.
I always try to work out some of the character of an author when reading their books as it can often come out in the subtelties of the way they describe things, so having the author interact directly was something I enjoyed. It was yet another insight into Austen and her world through that of her writing.
So in short I love Austen for not assuming I’m not bright enough to work out her characters and their potential motives. For expecting her readers to actually have a think about what she might have meant and what she might be trying to say. But mostly for having much more amazing characters and interesting moments in her books because of it all.