The novel was "invented" in 1740 when Samuel Richardson's Pamela was published. This was the first work to depict a protagonist that faces realistic social concerns and deals with the plight of contemporary people. Novels, unlike romances, must follow the laws of physical and human nature. Austen's Northanger Abbey is an example of a novel.
According to the Norton the novel is a very flexible genre in form and subject matter, giving high priority to narration of events.