Join us once again as we travel to the world of the refined Miss Jane Austen and ever so slightly trash it. In another mash-up of a classic, Vera Nazarian cheekily takes the most gothic of Austen’s novels and makes it into ‘Northanger Abbey And Angels And Dragons’. In the original, our heroine’s fears, due to the over consumption of gothic novels, are discovered to be unfounded and she gets her required happy ending. Here, the streets of Bath are strewn with clues as our new heroine takes on the fantasy world.
Catherine Morland is a young girl of seventeen is who invited to stay in Bath with some family friends, the Allens. There, she meets a personable young man called Henry Tilney and a couple of chancers called Isabella and John Thorpe. Isabella is after a rich husband and her brother John is after a rich wife. There is a slight difference from the original text here. Catherine is surrounded by angels which she can see and converse because she can also see other people’s guardian angels. As she discovers in Bath, she can also see other magical creatures as Isabella is definitely not what she appears to others. Catherine also has issues with a dragon whom she encounters on a visit to Henry’s father’s house, Northanger Abbey.
In direct contrast to Jane Austen’s desire that we should take our novels with a pinch of salt and concentrate on real life, this novel encourages us to say, ‘what the hell’ and indulges in a festival of intrigue, magic and mayhem.
I like both and the interaction between the original is fascinating and fun, too. ‘Northanger Abbey And Angels And Dragons’ is thoroughly enjoyable and a bit of light relief from other overly earnest fantasy tracts. As part of a series of mashed-up Austen novels, this emphasises that her heroines can actually be quite likeable and like us.