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Northanger Abbey Hardcover – April 15, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gold Dagger Award–winning British crime writer McDermid offers a canny new twist on Jane Austen’s early novel. Fans of the original will know that Cat Morland is a book lover eager for her own supernatural adventure. In McDermid’s tale, when Cat’s neighbors offer to bring her to Edinburgh for a festival, she leaps at the opportunity to spread her wings. There, Cat meets two siblings, John and Bella Thorpe. She and Bella become fast friends despite Bella’s occasional shallowness, but Cat can’t abide John, who only seems to care about driving fast cars and showing off to try to win Cat’s affection. Instead, she prefers mysterious Henry Tilney and his delicate sister Eleanor, who bear striking similarities to the vampires in her favorite books. When the Tilneys invite Cat to stay with them at their ancestral home, Northanger Abbey, she feels chills at the thought of both staying with Henry and uncovering a centuries-old macabre mystery. McDermid’s brilliant update of the characters’ outlooks, philosophies, and attitudes within a modern context makes this a reimagined delight for Austen fans. --Amber Peckham

Review

Praise for Northanger Abbey:

“The unmitigated pleasure here is the obvious relish with which McDermid relocates Austen’s Regency England tale of romantic intrigue in Bath’s high-society circuit and imaginatively-spun Gothic intrigue at a rural abbey to 21st-century Britain. . . . McDermid’s success lies in her ability to allow her version of Northanger Abbey to dovetail tidily and enjoyably with Austen’s original while infusing it with her own humor, wit, and style. . . . Long before Cat is off to the Tilneys’ abbey, long before our modern-day crime author draws a final, canny ace from her tartan sleeve, you’ll have succumbed to the delights of Northanger à la McDermid.”—Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe

“Gold Dagger Award–winning British crime writer McDermid offers a canny new twist on Jane Austen’s early novel. . . . McDermid’s brilliant update of the characters’ outlooks, philosophies, and attitudes within a modern context makes this a reimagined delight for Austen fans.”—Amber Peckham, Booklist

“Scottish crime writer McDermid adeptly reworks Jane Austen’s Gothic satire for the modern audiences. . . . Following Austen’s storyline but diverging in distinctive ways of her own, McDermid captures the naivete of the protagonist of Austen’s prose. . . . Rife with conflicts of love, gossip, misunderstandings, and updates on social media, it is an accessible and enjoyable read, especially rewarding for young readers as a gateway into appreciating the classics.”—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Val McDermid:

“Val McDermid . . . has the ruthless psychological scalpel that forms part of the equipment of all good novelists, whatever their genre. And, fortunately for us, she knows just how to use it.”—Andrew Taylor, The Guardian (UK), on The Retribution

“McDermid is a whiz at combining narrative threads, shifting to the viewpoints of her various characters . . . and ending chapters with cliffhangers that propel you to keep reading. . . . She’s the best we’ve got.”—New York Times Book Review, on Killing the Shadows

“One of the most accomplished crime novelists in the UK, Val McDermid has an acute reading of the psychology that lifts her out of the genre strait-jacket. She delivers pulse-raising set-pieces when necessary, but truthfulness of characterization is always more important than the exigencies of plot.”—Barry Forshaw, The Independent (UK), on The Vanishing Point

“Smooth. Confident. Deeply satisfying. What else can you say about McDermid’s writing?”—Entertainment Weekly (editor’s choice), on The Torment of Others

“Her work is taut, psychologically complex and so gripping that it puts your life on hold.”—The Times (UK)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802123015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802123015
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat on March 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Whether or not people like sequels, prequels, spin offs or modern retellings of classic literature is always going to be a personal thing I think. I find them interesting and like any other genre there are good and bad amongst them. In ‘Northanger Abbey’ Val McDermid has done a good job of setting the story in twenty first century Edinburgh at the time of the Festival. I think she has captured the atmosphere of the Festival extremely well.

I was less convinced by some of the characters though I did like Henry Tilney – a lawyer in this incarnation – and ‘Cat’ Morland – still a vicar’s daughter and immersed in reading vampire fiction. Isabella Thorpe (Bella) is just a nasty piece of work however you look at her and whatever century she is set in. We’ve all met versions of Bella. John Thorpe translates into a petrol head who is always boasting about how quickly he got from A to B.

I did enjoy reading this version of ‘Northanger Abbey’. It has the light-heartedness of the original and it retains the classic – and rather sweet – love story. What I didn’t like, even though it is probably authentic, was the language used in the dialogue.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazonbombshell on June 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
NA is a tough book to adapt. Plenty of people have argued that the original story doesn't hang together (Catherine & Henry, for example, aren't the perfectly matched couple that, say, Elizabeth & Darcy or Anne & Wentworth are), and others add that it isn't just a story, it's actually a novel that intentionally deconstructs and makes fun of novels! Agree with that or not; it's one explanation of why Northanger Abbey is notoriously difficult to film, why it doesn't fit so well with the rest of Austen's canon, and - now we come to the point - why a modern retelling stretches the limits of credulity.

The characters are good, especially Henry and Ellie (Eleanor.) Cat has a little more spine and common sense than the original Catherine Morland, and I like her the better for it. The Allens are perfectly adapted.

But the narrative feels awkward, which is not what I expected from this author. Perhaps it's that it's out of her usual genre?

The plot is no more believable than the original, and Cat's conclusion-jumping is even less so in a modern context.

The constant presence of social media, text shorthand, and teen slang - mostly used as an easy way to modernize, occasionally as a plot device - is distracting, forced, and already feels dated. I'm going to laugh myself silly re-reading it in five years.

I might re-read it, though. Because Henry is still delicious, and the book IS fun. If you can suspend your disbelief and accept it as it is.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Maya Rose on September 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Stay away. I read the original years ago, and saw this at the library and thought it would be fun. I read a lot of fiction, and don't mind fluff, popular chic-lit, or romances, as well as more thought-provoking classics. It is not that I am a snob, this is just an ill-conceived project. Perplexing motivations, combined with a skimpy plot, made this a dull and confusing read. I am new to this author -- she obviously knows how to write. But why she chose this storyline is mysterious. It doesn't translate to modern times. Why would a middle-aged woman take a seventeen year old on a trip for a month? And then we are supposed to believe that said girl would be rude enough to leave them mid-month to stay for an extended, unspecified amount of time with a different family? People don't travel like that these days. And don't get me started on the general... he is too creepy in today's world, and a thankful reminder that we don't come across men like that in modern times. Facebook and all just don't equate to modern... the underlying social mores are thankfully too different for a successful update. The ending did not justify the time I invested in reading.

Fluff can still be satisfying -- but this wasn't it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alex Ayres on April 26, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fan of Val McDermid in the crime genre I was fascinated to see what she would do with this. I couldn't believe it! I am a man in my sixties and I was enchanted with the writing style - a blend of period and modern - and the evocation of Edinburgh during the Festival is spot on, as is the sweep of Northanger Abbey itself and the assorted car rides. Most of all I was swept up in the sheer fun of it all and found myself racing through the pages to find out if what I hoped might happen actually did. Call me a sucker but Val McD had me in the palm of her hand - I had a whale of a time and am now sending a copy to a bright young Cat Morland-type friend of mine in her teens. I hope she has just as much fun! Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This may be the most disappointing thing I will read this year. After the abomination that was Joanna Trollope's version of Sense & Sensibility, I was confident - oh, so confident - about the inevitable direness of Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey. There I was - poison pen at the ready, sarcasm ready to drip like venom, scalpel sharpened to rip the very heart out of it - and dang me if it doesn't turn out the book's not too bad at all! In fact - and you'll never know how much it hurts me to say this - it's actually quite good fun.

To be fair, McDermid's task was always going to be easier than Trollope's. While Austen's Sense and Sensibility is a serious book which casts a penetrating light on aspects of the society of her time that no longer exist in ours, Northanger Abbey is a much lighter concoction that deals with the eternal subjects of true and false love, and obsession with literary trends. So, while I remain unconvinced of the need or merit of updating Austen at all, this is probably the one that lends itself most easily to updating.

Our heroine Cat Morland is fairly inexperienced in the ways of the world, having been home-schooled by her mother in a Devon rectory. So when her well-off arty neighbours Andrew and Susie Allen invite her to come with them to the Edinburgh Festival, Cat is thrilled.
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