This was a fun, light-hearted romp, but I think it's not one of Austen's best works. It had her characteristic humor, and I love the way she delivers both approbation and condemnation in such wry, genteel turns of phrase. Austen's world is a Regency fairyland where nothing truly violent or horrific ever happens, which makes Catherine Morland, the 17-year-old heroine of Northanger Abbey
all the more endearing. Catherine reads lots of gothic novels, and would like nothing better than to be trapped in a haunted house, discover that the local baronet is hiding his mad wife in an attic, find a mysterious orphan on her doorstep, uncover a wicked poisoning plot, etc. Sadly, no such dramatic events occur during her stay in Bath, but she does make friends with the Allens, the Thorpes, and the Tilneys, leading to a typical Austen comedy of manners with misunderstandings, deceptions, attachments, broken engagements, etc.
I liked Catherine, who's a sweet girl, a former tomboy who still has a vivid imagination and a taste for adventure. She grows up over the course of her little adventure in her first season out, making friends, figuring out that not everyone can be taken at face value, and that she shouldn't try to fit real people into the plots of gothic novels. Also, Austen has a lot of fun name-checking fellow authors, honoring some and making fun of others, and defending the novel as a legitimate work of art (even in Austen's day, novels -- particularly the sort she wrote -- were being dismissed as trashy entertainment for women and thus unworthy of respect).
However, the ending was rushed and had none of the humor or wit of the first part, like Austen had a fun time writing about her overly-imaginative heroine and her adventures for the first part of the book, and then said, "Oh, well, I guess I'd better write the happy ending now." So all misunderstandings are cleared up and Catherine is suitably settled in the last chapter, mostly through a lot of exposition that bordered on deux ex machina. Also, since this was a shorter novel, it wasn't as complex and intricate as, say Pride and Prejudice
. So, an enjoyable but a lightweight book without the depth of some other Austen works I've enjoyed.