Val McDermid’s “Northanger Abbey” is the second book to emerge from the Austen Project, in which Jane Austen’s published oeuvre is reimagined by 21st-century authors. But early on her heroine, Cat Morland, encounters, via audiobook, the Gothic work of another 19th-century novelist — Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” “For Cat,” we are told, “schooled only in contemporary vampire romance, it was a curious and unsettling experience. It reminded her of the first time she’d tasted an olive. It was unlike everything that had crossed her palate before; strange and not quite pleasant, yet gilded with the promise of sophistication.”
Rare letter discovered by chance in archive reveals fraught family matters strikingly akin to one of her plots
Northanger Abbey is an entirely new play, by well known Brisbane theatre critic, director and playwright Nigel Munro-Wallis based on Jane Austen’s novel of that name. It is a dark but comic tale of manners which takes a rather light-hearted look at the Gothic genre so popular in both Austen’s time and our own.
It’s a fascinating oddity of literary history that the great Victorian novelist of romantic love, Charlotte Brontë, despised that other great British chronicler of love, Jane Austen, and could not quite comprehend why Austen was valued so highly by critics in Brontë’s time. This seems counterintuitive: after all, both appear regularly at the top of lists of favorites compiled by readers, especially female readers, who love classic novels and all things romantic.