Northanger Abbey was originally a 'classic' by Jane Auten. This version by Val McDermid is a retelling in the present day. It's also my first book group read of 2023. Having never read the original, I can't tell you how close it is to the original idea. However, I'm reviewing it as I found this book.
Cat Morland, a young girl from a sheltered life in a village in Devon is brought to Edinburgh Festival by a local couple. Here she finds new friends and experiences. She soon meets the strange Tilney family, whom she suspects of being vampires. A visit to their home Northanger Abbey follows. With no Wi-Fi, this strange world fascinates Cat.
The book starts at a leisurely pace. It feels almost as we're experiencing the world through Cat's young eyes. The atmosphere and description is built up nicely, not rushed (contrast to real life). Cat makes friends with a girl her own age, Bella. It just happens that Bella knows Cat's brother, a coincidence? The book however never seems to get into top gear. I turned page after page expecting something to happen, but it never really does.
There's a lot of humour in the book, the writing is witty at times. Yet I'm left with this feeling that it was a parody on a YA novel meant for teenagers. Maybe it was, but it wasn't a particularly good YA fiction. There was too much teenage angst, but not very well done. It was also a bit of a class thing, endless cake and lashings of coffee, read like a posh Famous Five. It wasn't rooted in reality like a good teenage novel. There was no real subplot to make it interesting. I like YA fiction. I think most of it is the most cutting edge of fiction currently. Yet this book, I know it's aimed at adults, but it read like a cheap YA romance.
Rarely do I come away from a book thinking why I read that, Northanger Abbey is the exception. The book was a little too predictable. I expect I'll find out it's a very clever parody, but for now I'll move on to another book.