Review of Northanger Abbey, Ch. 1

Catherine Morland is introduced as the heroine. It is made very clear that she is not at all a heroine. She is not particularly talented or especially bright, she's rather plain (verging on ugly?), and her family is perfectly boring. As a youngster, she shirks the feminine pursuits of childhood, which, as far as I can tell constitute playing with dolls, for running around outside getting dirty a lot.

At 15, she starts to clean up a bit and becomes slightly more interested in girly things, like fixing her hair and listening politely while other people play the piano. She takes up reading so she can learn witty or moralistic quotes to interject in conversation. Despite this mediocre effort from a likable but thoroughly mediocre girl, by the time she is 17 no one has fallen in love with her. In fact, it would seem no one has even taken more than a passing interest in her. (I can't imagine why.)

Fortunately for Catherine, Mr. Allen, the guy who owns most of the land around her village, has the gout and has to go to Bath. Mr. Allen's wife likes Catherine well enough and, since she's clearly not doing anything else pressing, asks her to come along. The parents agree, and Cathrine Morland sets off to Bath with the Allens.