It is a funny thing, hating books. I don’t do it very often. I am open minded and I try to see the positives in most of the books I read. Sometimes they have a rubbish protagonist, but the storyline is fantastic. Sometimes the storyline is a bit dull, but the writing is stunning. But it is very rare that I will actually strongly dislike a book enough to say that I hate it, and in fact the book I have chosen for this I hated so much I almost put it out of my mind entirely. Almost.
Now, I don’t think this book itself is the most loved book of all time by any means, but I do know that many people love the writer of this book, and as much as I don’t care for her, I can see why people do. Anyway enough deferring the point – I utterly hated Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I loathed it. Even now I am looking at my copy of it, in front of me, staring at it with disdain, vile hatred bubbling deep within me. There, I said it. That felt quite good actually.
Northanger Abbey was the first of Austen’s books finished for publication, in 1803, but was released posthumously in 1817 (which possibly suggests something in itself). It centres around the character of 17 year old Catherine Morland, who reads too much Gothic literature and seems to get this confused with, you know, reality. So when she is invited to Northanger Abbey (an event which in itself happens about half way through the story, when it really should happen at the start to cut out a lot of the unnecessary non-events that fill up the first volume of the book), the estate belonging to General Tilney, father of her love interest Henry, she believes it will be the gothic estate of many of the novels she has read, and is somewhat disappointed when it isn’t. Her naivety continues throughout the rest of the novel, in a terrible attempt at both edgy writing and comedy, until eventually it comes to the happy end we all know to expect from Austen.
I know that fans of Jane Austen are probably reading this thinking “but it’s not about events, it’s about the characters and the development of their relationships,” or, “it’s a reflection of the society at the time,” (duh – isn’t all creative art, whether it be literature, music, or art?) but for me that doesn’t make up for the fact that this is a really boring book. Some people say “yes, but it’s over two centuries old.” Sure it is, and Dickens isn’t much younger, but somehow I find that, and a lot of other Victorian literature, considerably more interesting and easier to read than this lot of drivel. For me, quite frankly, I find the characters to be of such a nature as to evoke little reaction from me, the storyline is barely existent, and the writing just drones on – I had numerous headaches while trying to read this.
There, I got it out of my system, I think. At the end of the day, Jane Austen isn’t for everyone, and I understand and appreciate that. I can at least see the appeal of books like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but Northanger Abbey just infuriated me, and no matter how much my tastes in reading change and broaden over the years, I can’t see this opinion changing.
Do you have any books that you particularly hate? If so, why?