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Northanger Abbey - Val McDermid

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


I'll start by saying I love Austen's Northanger Abbey. It is in my top three favourite books of hers and one I often re-read. I am always wary of re-workings of Austen novels as there have been mixed successes in the past.


I enjoyed Val McDermid's modern day re-working of this classic. Moving the story to Edinburgh works well. The Gothic atmosphere of the old city is an excellent backdrop to fuel Cat Morland's vampire fuelled Gothic romance fantasies. Henry Morland retains his charm and sense, Bella is as vacuous and self-centred as always and the General as conceited and rigid as he should be.


Cat has retained some of the annoying traits that are evident in the original, she holds on to the ridiculous notions of vampires and murder in a way that you wouldn't expect someone who is nearly 18 to still retain. Some of this is explained by her somewhat sheltered childhood being home schooled. The childishness of this belief in fiction is grating, somewhat more than it is in the original as it would seem more likely that such believes would be held for longer in an age when the abundance of knowledge and the easy availability of it has rendered some superstitions and horrors obsolete. I think this is probably one of the difficulties to be overcome when re-writing classics in the modern age and isn't any reflection on the author. However given it is part of Cat's character and a driving force of the story it would be hard if not impossible to remove this aspect of Cat and the story-line and so has rightly remained.


This is a well written, fun take on a classic work of literature. The charms of the original shine through. If you've read Austen's Northanger Abbey, give this modern version a go and see what you think for yourself. If you haven't I'd recommend you read both. You've nothing to loose and hopefully the discovery of the joy of Austen to gain.