The earliest of her six major novels, Northanger Abbey remained unpublished until after Jane Austen's death. A deliciously witty satire of popular Gothic romances, it is perhaps Austen's lightest, most delightful excursion into a young woman's world. Catherine Morland, an unlikely heroine - unlikely because she is so ordinary - forsakes her English village for the pleasures and perils of Bath. There, among a circle of Austen's wonderfully vain, dissembling, and fashionable characters, she meets a potential suitor, Henry Tilney. But with her imagination feuled by melodramatic novels, Catherine turns a visit to his home, Northanger Abbey, into a hunt for dark family secrets. The result is a series of hilarious social gaffes and harsh awakenings that for all of Austen's youthful exuberance nevertheless conveys her mature vision of literature and life - and the consequences of mistaking one for the other.
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