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'If adventures will not befall a lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad'
Crumbling castles shrouded in secrets, ghostly skeletons cloaked in black veils, and innocent maidens held in the gravest of danger: the clichéd tropes of gothic romance fill the mind of Catherine Morland, the young, naïve, but warm-hearted heroine of Jane Austen’s parody of the popular fiction of her time. Venturing away from her country parsonage home to delight in her first season amongst fashionable society in Bath, Catherine must navigate the more prosaic hazards of female friendship and undesirable suitors to secure the affection of eligible Henry Tilney. But when Catherine is invited to Northanger Abbey, the Tilneys’ ancient stately home, her love of sensational stories of murder and mystery fires her imagination, and threatens to destroy her future happiness.
'Somehow, Austen had the insight and skill to delineate life beyond her years and her experience'
The last of Austen's novels to be published, appearing posthumously in 1818, Northanger Abbey was the first to be completed, written when Austen was in her early twenties. Simply told in lively and elegant prose, this is Austen's most playful work. But the tongue-in-cheek tone that characterises the story belies the skill of a truly great writer flexing her creative muscles. Just as Austen's talent for satire exposes the failings of the overwrought gothic novels of the age, her subtle, beautifully observed portrait of Bath society reveals the real value of fiction: its power to convey 'the most thorough knowledge of human nature'. As Val McDermid writes in her introduction – a heartfelt account of how Northanger Abbey has reinvented itself for her with each rereading – 'Austen unfailingly provides us with the opportunity to investigate our own lives and find surprising truths there.'
Jonathan Burton has contributed six colour illustrations, depicting both the ballrooms of Bath and the imposing Abbey. Witty, fresh and perceptive, the images perfectly reflect Austen's wonderfully sardonic novel. The penultimate edition in Folio's Jane Austen series, this volume is bound in gold cloth, and the slipcase reproduces the work’s spirited first line.
Jane Austen was born in Hampshire in 1775, the seventh child and youngest daughter of George Austen, rector of Deane and Steventon, and his wife, Cassandra. She began writing poems, plays and stories for her family from a young age, and her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, was released by Thomas Egerton to sell-out acclaim in 1811. Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Mansfield Park (1814) swiftly followed, and in 1815 Austen moved to the London publisher John Murray for the publication of Emma, the last of Austen’s works to come out in her lifetime. Her novels, including the posthumously published Northanger Abbey (1818) and Persuasion (1818), are today considered amongst the finest in the English language. She died at Winchester in 1817.
Val McDermid is an award-winning crime writer with more than thirty novels to her name, translated into over forty languages. She grew up in Fife, and after a career in newspaper journalism in Glasgow and Manchester, she published her first crime novel, Report for Murder, in 1987. Notable among her books are The Mermaids Singing (1995) which won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award; A Place of Execution (1999), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; The Grave Tattoo (2006), winner of the Portico Prize for Fiction; and Northanger Abbey (2014), a modern re-imagining of Austen’s novel. She was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger award in 2010, in recognition of her work.
Jonathan Burton is an English illustrator who now lives in Bordeaux, France. For The Folio Society he has illustrated Cover Her Face by P. D. James and the Hitchhiker series by Douglas Adams, both of which were awarded silver medals by the Association of Illustrators in London, and most recently Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, which received a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York. As well as being distinguished in the publishing world, Burton’s work is also recognised in the film poster community; he has worked on licensed properties for such classic titles as King Kong, the Universal Monsters series and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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