Last Saturday the Washington Romance Writers had their first meeting of the year, which traditionally is reserved for Kathy Gilles Seidel, our resident Austen scholar. For the last six years she’s been working her way through a discussion of Jane Austen’s books especially as depicted in movies. Saturday was the last of this discussion series, ending with Northanger Abbey.

NorthangerDVDThere are two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey, one made in 2007, starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild and shown on PBS as part of an Austen series. The other was made in 1987, starring  and  (not Colin).

I was able to watch the 1987 version and to reread the book. My impressions can be summarized by saying that I loved the book and appreciated anew Austen’s deft hand at characterization and her wit. I also thought the movie makers just didn’t “get it.”

MV5BMjA1ODE4MzAwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTAyMjE2MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_Some of the discussion was around these issues:

1. Is Northanger Abbey a romance? Not really. It was more a character growth story, but more so a satire on the gothic novels of the period, specifically The Mysteries of Udolpho.

2. The film makers didn’t get the wit and satire in the story. The 1987 version changed the whole tone of the story. They did their best, though, to intensify the romance elements.

2. If Northanger Abbey were a romance, then Henry Tilney would not have made it as a romance hero, but in this story, he was the nicest guy in the book. The movie makers embellished Henry to make him more alpha-like.

Getting together with like-minded people, discussing topics like Jane Austen and romance writing is a wonderful pleasure. Each time I attend a meeting like this, I feel renewed and rejuvenated!

(Risky Regencies did a similar Northanger Abbey discussion several years ago, led by our talented Cara King. See here and here.)

What’s rejuvenating you today?