Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

This month, Book Talk has been reading and discussing Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid, a modern re-imagining of the Jane Austen classic. This is the second release from the Austen Project, which pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works. Seventeen-year-old Catherine 'Cat' Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat's wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to the Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
Sasha de Buyl is joined by Scottish crime writer, Alex Gray, and reader, Julie Amphlett to discuss how successful McDermid has been in bringing Austen's novel into the 21st century.

Launched in 2013 with Joanna Trollope's Sense & Sensibility, The Austen Project has generated much discussion among critics and readers as they debate the merits of "re-imagined" titles. The panel touch upon McDermid's updates to the original story, including the use of social media and text speak - was this well done or does it immediately date the book?

The panel also discuss McDermid's adherence to the plot of the original - should she have remained faithful or should more twists be added to the tale? They also ask how the original novel's themes work in the modern setting.

If you're reading, or have read, the book, what did you think? Do you think Austen needs to be brought into the modern world? How do you think it compares to McDermid's previous novels? We'd love to know what you thought - you can join the discussion in the comments below, or on Twitter @scottishbktrust or on Facebook.

Discover more

Read about The Austen Project, pairing contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s works.

Sasha recommended Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl as a companion piece to Northanger Abbey. 

Follow Alex Gray on Twitter and visit her website to find out about her latest work.

Follow Julie Amphlett on Twitter

Book Talk is produced by Colin Fraser of Culture Laser Productions.

Filed In: Book Talk Tags: Val McDermid, Jane Austen, Teens