It is no tragedy that seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland is not cut out to be the heroine of one of the Gothic novels she reads so avidly with her new friend Isabella Thorpe. What may lead to tragedy on her first visit to the glamorous resort town of Bath, however, are Catherine's overactive imagination and her inability to read other people.

Catherine has no clue that Isabella's tendency to say one thing and do another might make her an unreliable friend. It never occurs to her that her brother James, arriving unannounced in Bath with Isabella's brother John, has come to see Isabella, not her. After making a mistake that would shame any true heroine--falling in love with the wry and witty Henry Tilney before knowing his feelings for her--she fails to notice that the odious John Thorpe fancies himself in love with her, and vice versa. By the time Catherine visits Henry and his sister Eleanor at Northanger Abbey, her misconceptions and novel-fueled expectations virtually guarantee disaster. Yet, Catherine remains blissfully unaware of what awaits her.