I think, this being a novel by Jane Austen, I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I definitely found it entertaining and recognized the many ways in which Jane Austen poked fun at the gothic novel. It was very amusing watching Catherine expect horrible things to happen to her, only for her to be humiliated by her suppositions.
Plot-wise, the novel is very weak. I don’t believe the plot is the point of the book, but it is a very simple “love” story which really displays a pitifully small amount of the developing affection compared to other Austen novels. The satire of the Gothic novel, and the warning to readers to remain aware that they are not living in a novel, is prevalent. The characters are similarly weak, two of them being mean-spirited and greedy, while the main characters are simple and have no defining characteristics, except perhaps ignorance on Catherine’s part. They are also very clearly not the point, except perhaps to convince the reader to choose friends carefully. In the end, Austen even uses a deus ex machina to wrap up the story and provide a favorable resolution, definitely showing her disregard for the plot of this novel.
In the end, all it really has in its favor is the amusement factor as the reader watches Catherine’s suspicions build and deflate repeatedly. It is great in that, but basically fails in everything else. I’m hoping that Persuasion, the next novel by Austen that I plan to read, surpasses Northanger Abbey.