There is a division between the two sections of this novel; the part in Bath and the part involving the abbey. The first part, being the Bath section is contains an element of the gothic because Catherine and her companion Isabella read (novels very popular at the time). There is a link with the second section which is to do with the gothic element which is Catherine and her companion's reading of gothic novels. The beginning section is romantic but is eclipsed by the strong gothic component in the Northanger section. There is a ostensibly peculiar change in Catherine's character from literal and mundane to over imaginative in the respective sections; "a fundamental incongruity devolves around the uneasy coexistence of the novel's two sections: self-contained Gothic burlesque is grafted unceremoniously upon sentimental comedy of manners" . This whole issue makes the novel less easy to comprehend. In Bath and at Northanger Abbey, Catherine with her romantic fantasies influenced by Gothic novels, especially The Mysteries of Udolpho, experiences a painful procedure of disillusionment and becomes more mature. She learns to tell who is her true friend, the meaning of true love, and how to distinguish reality from fantasy.
A perhaps over simplified way of explaining and helping with the understanding of the novel is done by critics who argue that the novel's coherency can be broken down into roughly two categories: "coherency through use of genre and modes (technical and intertextual concerns) and thematic coherency" The novels which Catherine reads during the first section of "Northanger Abbey" were especially popular amongst women in the eighteenth century.
Having made clear her own attitude toward Gothic romance (that it is at best implausible, at worst ridiculous, and never true to life) Austen now makes it clear to the reader Catherine's opinion of such books. That Catherine should be so enthusiastic a reader of Mrs.