Tuesday, 15 May 2007

poor old Catherine Morland

It is a reasonably well-known fact (even a truth universally acknowledged) that Jane Austen wrote 6 [SIX - count 'em] completed novels in her life-time - plus a few other novellas, unfinished pieces and other such ephemera.

So I was most amused today to find that Dymocks are stocking a new(?) box-set of the 5 [!] Great Novels of Jane Austen. Guess which one missed the cut - it's not difficult. Poor old Catherine Morland, along with her over-active imagination, scurrying around Northanger Abbey just doesn't seem to cut it with today's audience. A quick check on LibraryThing shows that amongst LibraryThing users, there are 10,374 copies of Pride and Prejudice, but only 2,482 copies of Northanger Abbey (see the link for figures on the other 4 novels which fall in the range in-between).

The popularity of P&P, with it's sassy heroine and brooding dark hero, is understandable, especially given the "Firth-in-wet-shirt-and-those-pants Factor" and more recently the surprisingly good Keira Knightley (an Austen-esque name if ever there was one) teamed with the Spook-ish Matthew Macfadyen.

Similarly, in the last 10 years, there have been either film or television versions made of Emma [TV (Kate Beckinsale) and film (Gwyneth Paltrow) almost simulataneously], Sense & Sensibility [film], Mansfield Park [on film where they turned Sir Thomas into a slave trader and now apparently on TV with Billie Piper] and my favourite, Persuasion [film and then TV just recently with the currently Spook-y Rupert Penry-Jones - I'm looking forward to seeing this when it finally screens here].

But Northanger Abbey has been ignored by film-makers.* Is Catherine Morland really that difficult to make either sympathetic or sexy? If they can do it for Bridget Jones [I found her really annoying on paper but far more human and sympathetic on screen], then surely some bright spark out there can give Northanger Abbey another lease on life.

Then, maybe, the Great Novels box-set will include all 6 novels once again.


*I see now that ITV has made a new version of NA along with their new versions of Persuasion and MP. Before that, the last time NA made it to the screen was in the very early 1980's when there was early crop of Austen adaptations done by the BBC.


Genevieve said...

I've got Northanger Abbey at home... I know I've read it, but I can't remember the story very well. I'll re read it when I get home!

Rose Red said...

I quite liked Northanger Abbey. It was Mansfield Park that I couldn't take to (perhaps it was the crappy cheap copy that I bought with too-small text and almost non-existent margins). And Emma I just dislike intensely as a character. I'd put NA ahead of both of those in my top 5 JA books.

nuttnbunny said...

Embarrassed to say that I haven't read it. Adding to the list pronto :-)