Northanger Abby – Val McDermid

Val McDermid, a crime writer indulging in the dark and scary has taken on the romantic setting of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abby; a book I shamefully haven’t read simply because I’m not much of a fan of Austen. Despite this fact, my Gran left a package for me at the shop for the new year. Inside said package was a well read copy of McDermids contemporary rendition of a classic. Friday mornings at the shop I volunteer in are rather quiet (for example… no body tends to visit) so for 3 hours I lost myself in Cat Morland’s life and her aim of becoming a romantic heroin as those she has read about.

Having read nothing of Catherine Morland other than McDermids account, I found myself figuring out what 1800’s Gothic tropes our modern day technologies have replaced. Rather than maids bringing through hand written letters, posts are made on Facebook and email and rather than a Gothic Romance being Cat’s life goal, it was Twilight. Now, I read reviews on GoodReads and I have to say, had I read these prior to the book I probably would have left it to the side. The amount of book snobbery and bad reviews it received were awful. I think, despite Catherine being a huge fan of the likes of Twilight, any literary fan supposedly despises, it wasn’t a bad take on her story. Catherine Morland was into her Gothic Romances, books many would have probably turned their noses up at. She was young, and was interested in the things teenagers are interested in. Unfortunately, in this day and age, teenagers are interested in Twilight! So set aside your snobbish ideas about modern, young adult popular literature and just enjoy what is a fabulously written book!

What my main gripe was with Northanger Abby, was the language used by the main characters, Cat, Bella and their friends. It read as a lady attempting to mimic a younger generation with no real attachment to that generation¬†at all; another thing our friends at GoodReads despised. However, if you sit on a bus or tram or metro (what ever public transport you use) and you eavesdrop into a conversation among a group of teenage girls, the use of “totes” and “defs” (totally and definitely for those unsure) is enough to induce a migraine. So as much as we refuse to admit that maybe we are guilty of using shortened slang words, or perhaps we are not as young as we think we are any more; these words are used and it’s a sorry state of affairs indeed.

In all, I must read Austen’s Northanger Abby I suppose, in order to gather better contrasting ideas between the two, however I must say that I gobbled the entire book up in two days. This is usually unheard of as if a book doesn’t grab me, then I would probably set it down and never read it again… or perhaps take many days/weeks to finish it if I have the perseverance!

10/10 gold stars!


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