Northanger Abbeyby Val McDermid
A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel of love, misunderstandings, and gothic fiction from world-class crime writer Val McDermid.
Internationally bestselling crime writer Val McDermid has riveted millions of readers worldwide with her acutely suspenseful, psychologically complex, seamlessly plotted thrillers. In Northanger Abbey, she delivers her own updated take on Jane Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings, with an extra frisson of suspense that only McDermid could provide.
Cat Morland is ready to grow up. A homeschooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, she loses herself in novels (and, of course, her smartphone) and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when the Allens, neighbors and friends of her parents, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. With a sunny personality, tickets every night and a few key wardrobe additions courtesy of Susie Allen, Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then there’s the handsome Henry Tilney, an up-and-coming lawyer whose family home is the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help wondering if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Or has she just been reading too many novels? A delectable, note-perfect modern update of the Austen classic, Northanger Abbey tells a timeless story of innocence amid cynicism, the exquisite angst of young love, and the value of friendship.
“Scottish crime writer McDermid adeptly reworks Jane Austen’s Gothic satire for the modern audiences. . . . Following Austen’s storyline but diverging in distinctive ways of her own, McDermid captures the naivete of the protagonist of Austen’s prose. . . . Rife with conflicts of love, gossip, misunderstandings, and updates on social media, it is an accessible and enjoyable read, especially rewarding for young readers as a gateway into appreciating the classics.” —Publishers Weekly
Cat found herself on a bus to Morningside, where Fiona Alexander had commandeered the last available church hall in Edinburgh to impress the basics of Scottish country dancing on the novitiate.
She sidled in, hoping there would be enough people for her to pass unnoticed. Luck was not her friend, however. There were fewer than two dozen potential dancers in the hall, the young men nudging each other and horsing around, the women rolling their eyes or texting or gossiping with heads close together. To Cat’s dismay, almost everyone seemed to be already paired up, leaving her stranded and terrified that she was going to have to dance with Fiona.
She was saved by a young man bursting through the double doors of the hall, pink and dishevelled from running. “I’m so sorry, Fiona. I missed the bus.”
Fiona gave him a look of mock disapproval. “At least you’re here now. Which is just as well because this young lady here—” She gestured towards Cat. “—is without a partner.” She smiled at Cat. “My dear, I presume you’re Catherine Morland? This unpunctual reprobate is Henry Tilney. Henry, meet Catherine.”
He dipped his head in greeting. “Nice to meet you, Catherine. I promise you, it’s not as hard as it looks. I’ll be gentle with you.”
When she looked back on that first meeting, Cat would wonder whether she should have been more wary of a man who began their acquaintance with such a blatant lie. For there was nothing gentle about what followed.