Friday Bookblogging: But Are They All Horrid? Edition


Welcome to Friday Bookblogging, where we discuss books by, about, and inspired by Jane Austen and her work.

We all know that Northanger Abbey was inspired by The Mysteries of Udolpho and other “horrid novels,” or Gothic novels, of Jane Austen’s time. The Editrix takes a most harmless delight in horrid novels and finds them endlessly entertaining (if perhaps not quite in the way the authors intended), so we were delighted to see a most erudite post about Gothic novels at Jane Greensmith’s blog. JaneGS is on a program to read an excellent selection of Gothic novels this year, and we wish her much enjoyment from them. If Udolpho seems a bit daunting as an introduction to the delights of horrid novels, we would recommend starting with The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole; not only is it the Ur-Gothic, it is quite a slim volume and a quick read, and has plenty of the requisite Whisky Tango Foxtrot-ness that we find so delightful in these works (three words: GIANT BODY PARTS), though, we are desolated to report, no ninjas that we can recall. It’s available at for free, if you’re interested but not sufficiently motivated to actually get out of your chair and toddle off to your Friendly Neighborhood Book Emporium.

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler will be out out in paperback in the U.S., with a fun new cover, on April 27. The book has also been purchased by Bloomsbury for UK release, and will be out in February 2011.

If you’re in the L.A. area, don’t forget about the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The “Writing on Writers” panel on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. features Susannah Carson, author of A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen.

That’s it for this week’s Bookblogging, so until next time, Gentle Readers, always remember: Books Are Nice!

8 thoughts on “Friday Bookblogging: But Are They All Horrid? Edition

  1. I remember when my Jane Austen professor introduced this book to us (we read it and The Old English Baron as an intro to the Gothic before diving into NA). He said “It starts with a giant helmet dropping from the sky and killing the groom on his way to his wedding. . . and it goes downhill from there.” Oh, how apt a description that is! It’s all so very horrid. 🙂


  2. Roguedoe

    Though H. Rider Haggard was definitely not a contemporary of Jane Austen, his books “She” and “King Solomon’s Mines” are delightfully morbid and very very gothic. Wilkie Collins’ “The Woman in White” is a lovely, dreary gothic mystery.


  3. Mandy N

    I found Castle of Otranto fun; heroine’s fleeing with sickly taper through windy corridors is delishly horrid…be prepared for many supernatural elements. Some of the C18th gothic tales recommended by Isabella to Catherine; Clermont, The Castle of Wolfenbach and Midnight Bell are published with pretty covers and nice introductions for modern readers on Valancourt books.
    Actually, I reckon the heroine in Otranto definately had ninja-potential !


  4. Kirsten

    When I was in college, I stumbled upon Castle of Otranto at a book sale. Bought it, and ended up reading it aloud to a group of friends (we were hanging out in the sunshine, avoiding writing papers). We all went into fits at the line “O my lord! The helmet! The helmet!” Ah, good memories.


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