Book #57: Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, (1818), 251p

Quite a few years ago, I went on a classic novel reading kick. I plowed through the three most popular Austen novels, along with others by Hardy, Hawthorne,  and Bronte. In my younger years, I think I just wanted to feel snobby and educated. Now I just want to catch up on all the goodies I’ve missed. 

I like Austen. Her novels, particularly Pride and Predjudice, were my favourite of the bunch. Yes, I’m a typical woman. I’m totally okay with that. I have wanted to revisit Austen for quite a while and this reading challenge gave me an excuse.

Catherine Morland is your average turn of the (19th) century country lass from a large family. While spending some time in Bath with some family friends, she meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney. Catherine is invited to Tilney’s family estate, Northanger Abbey. An avid Gothic novel reader, Catherine lets her curiosity get the best of her and starts suspecting the head of the family of wrong-doings in the death of his wife. 

I REALLY liked this novel. I found Catherine to be a far more relatable heroine than Elizabeth or Emma. I liked the gothic feel and themes. I don’t really understand how this is considered to be one of Austen’s weaker novels. 

2015 Reading Challenge: A book more than 100 years old (this one is almost 200 years old!)

Book #50: Down and Out in Paris and London

George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, (1933), 230p

After my last blog where I essentially ranted about book clubs and how they stifle your reading choices – I have to say I lucked out this time.

Back on December 30, 2013 (yes I have the exact date – I added it to a library list :)) a patronĀ and I got to talking about books. I typically chat people’s ears off, but is both a strength and a flaw of mine – some people hate me, some people love me. We were talking about classic books. He mentioned how rad Down and Out was. So I added it to my list. And it has sat there every since.

Until the fateful day where my book club picked it as a choice. All of the woots.

Down and Out in Paris and London is apparently an autobiographical tale of Orwell’s time living amongst the downtrodden in, you guessed it, Paris and London. He worked as a plongeur in deplorable conditions, lived off scraps and cigarette butts, and slept amid bugs of all sorts. By living alongside the tramps, he meets some interesting folks.

So, I adored this book. I have only read the big Orwellian novels – 1984 and Animal Farm. To me, this was a simpler, basic read. I loved his down-to-earth tone and descriptions. It came across as a diary entry or a conversation with a pal over coffee. To be honest, I can see far too many similarities between then and now. Poverty is clearly still around. The way we treat our downtrodden is so similar that it breaks my heart.

So my book club hit a home-run with this pick.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book at the bottom of your to-read list