Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, Read by Juliet Stevenson (Naxos Audiobook), Review & Giveaway

It is believed that Jane Austen wrote many of her first works for the entertainment of her family and would read them aloud for their opinions and enjoyment. It is not hard to imagine that Northanger Abbey was presented to her family in this manner. The language and phrasing lends itself so freely to the spoken word almost like a stage play, that I was quite certain that an audio book would be a great enhancement to the text. Add to that the talent of a creative narrator and you have a great combination for several hours of entertainment ahead of you. 

I adore audio books and listen to them in the car during my commute to work.  It is a great time to tune out the traffic, clear my head, and get lost in a good story. When I decided that I wanted to listen to an audio version of Northanger Abbey I discovered that there were three new unabridged audio editions that had been produced in the last two years to choose from. The first Blackstone Audiobooks (2007) was read by Nadia May, the second by Tantor Media (2006) and read by Donada Peters, and the third by Naxos AudioBooks (2006) and read Juliet Stevenson. The first two readers appeared to be professional narrators specializing in the classics with a diverse range of authors, and the third Juliet Stevenson is a well known British stage and screen actress, whose performance as the acerbic Mrs. Elton in the 1996 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma was so hilarious, that I knew she would be an excellent choice to read the novel with the extra bit of animation that I desired. 

Ms. Stevenson did not disappoint and far exceeded my expectations. She added just the right amount of irony and humor to the reading of Northanger Abbey that no one would be in doubt that it is a burlesque on the sensational Gothic fiction or other overly sentimental novels popular in Jane Austen’s day. Her choice of characterizations was imaginative and captivating. Hearing her interpretation of the emptiness of Mrs. Allen and her frivolous distinction for fashion, Isabella Thorpe and her shallow endearments, and Henry Tilney with his knack for reading and adapting to different personalities with wit and charm, I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the novel.

I was happy to learn that Naxos AudioBooks has made quite a solid commitment to present quality productions of all of Jane Austen’s six major novels in unabridged and abridged formats. You can read about all of their recordings on their excellent web site and listen to a PodCast of an interview of Juliet Stevenson as she discusses her involvement in the audio recordings and her affinity to Jane Austen. Of note is the free download for this month of Feuille D’Album, an 1917 short story by Katherine Mansfield and read by Juliet Stevenson.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 11 Giveaway


Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen 

Naxos AudioBooks (2006), Read by Juliet Stevenson 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one unabridged, and one abridged copy of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey read by Juliet Stevenson, Naxos AudioBooks (2006)

(US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 12 – Oct 20          Guest Blog – Valancourt Books
Day 13 – Oct 21          Group Read NA Chapters 18-21
Day 14 – Oct 22          Book Review – OWC NA
Day 15 – Oct 23          Group Read NA Chapters 22-24

17 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, Read by Juliet Stevenson (Naxos Audiobook), Review & Giveaway

Add yours

  1. Oh, how I do love audiobooks!

    I think you’re right: Northanger Abbey probably was performed for her family. There are certain scenes – I am thinking of the first time that Henry meets Catherine – that would lend themselves so well to being acted out!

    I’ve always been surprised by Juliet Stevenson – when I listed to the Mansfield Park audio-book, she voiced *all* of the characters so believably! And here I was thinking: “Hmmm, how will she do Edmund as well as Fanny? How will she differentiate Edmund and Tom?” She does it so well!


  2. I have two of Jane Austen’s novels on audio read by Juliet Stevenson and they are so wonderful. At first I thought how strange to have Mrs. Elton reading to me and I wasn’t so sure. But she does a fabulous job with all the voices and doesn’t sound like Mrs. Elton at all! :)


  3. Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite Austen piece. I keep going back to it because I know it will make me smile. I’d love to enter the drawing.


  4. I never understood the lure of audio books until I gave them a try on my commute to work. The downside to that is not wanting to get out of the car when you get there! I think I could only listen to NA if it was a road trip or else I’d never get out of the car.


  5. Audio books are a great addition to reading the text, it can give you sucha different perspective. This one, by Juliet Stevenson should be super!


  6. It’s always good to have someone say which are the good audiobooks-there’s very little worse than a bad reading of a favorite novel.


  7. i’ve never really gotten into audio books and i suspect it is because i only try the cheap ones with not so great readers. juliet stephenson, however, is a wonderful actress and i bet she’s amazing!


  8. Listening to audio books often gives one a different take on something. The narrator will put a different emphasis on wording by expression, tone, etc. then what I was doing when I read the book. It also helps if you were not certain on archaic or foreign word pronunciation. One often picks up on new things that one didn’t notice before as well.


  9. I love audio books and I’ve heard a sample by Juliet too. She has the best voice for Austen books. Her rich, velvety voice can read the amazingly long sentences with ease and makes it sound so effortless! It has been through her style that I have improved my own ability to change my speech (in my head) when I read and it has really made a difference in how much more I enjoy reading! It was so difficult in the beginning not knowing how to speak the english language in that manner of speaking! To everyone out there, even if you don’t win, I encourage you to invest in one of Juliet’s adaptions, you won’t be disappointed! I hope I win though! :)


  10. You know, whenever I read any of Jane Austen’s books, I always imagine her sitting in front of me reading out loud and giving all those delicious snarky comments.


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