Monday 3 March 2014

Northanger Abbey - Val McDermid .......... Austen Project Bk 2
Northanger Abbey is probably the Austen book that I read most often, and having read the mess that is Trollope's version of Sense and Sensibility I was a little apprehensive about reading MacDermid's retelling. I really needn't have worried, as this has been given enough tweaks here and there to make it fit into a modern world quite brilliantly. The basics all stay exactly the same, Catherine Morland is the modern teen who wants to be the heroine of her own story but fears that she will never get the chance. Here her opportunity comes when family friends whisk her off to the Edinburgh festival. This is a great update in itself, Bath just doesn't carry the same meaning as it did when Austen wrote the original. At the festival Cat makes new friendships just as she does in the original; with Bella who is 'like totes annoying', superficial and just awful, and with the amiable but formal Tilnys. The characters translate into the modern world really well, there are enough updates to make them seem plausible. With the explosion in dark romance as a literary genre it seems plausible that Cat Morland could become a little obsessed with a modern gothic series, even if her apparent belief that the Tilnys are potential Vampires does come across as a little idiotic. Then again she only properly entertains this idea briefly fixing on the idea of General Tilny as a potential human killer quite swiftly just as she does in the original. Austen's characters work in a modern setting rather nicely, and the sections where the story deviates from the original are well thought out and well written, creating a novel with does homage to the original while being a great read in it's own right.
I was very impressed reading this, yes there are flaws. Sometimes the conversation seems just a little bit stilted for modern teens. As mentioned, the idea that Cat could genuinely think the Tilnys were vampires seems a little silly. For the vast majority of the time however everything fits together nicely and the story flows through in an entertaining fashion to it's inevitable conclusion. MUCH better than Sense and Sensibility which tried to stick so firmly to the original that it fell down as a modern work.

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