When I think of Jane Austen three books pop into my mind: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Granted, I haven’t read Emma yet this year, but I’m familiar with the story thanks to movies. Sometimes I remember Northanger Abbey. Two books hardly ever enter my mind: Mansfield Park and Persuasion. During my blogging hiatus I read Mansfield Park and now I’m wondering why more people don’t talk about it.
Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.
Now I won’t claim that this novel surpasses Pride and Prejudice. Fanny is no Elizabeth Bennet. However, she is a wonderful character. She’s not flashy, doesn’t have witty comebacks, and is sickly. I think these may be some of the reasons why people in today’s world aren’t drawn to her. But these are the very reasons why I like her. Fanny hasn’t had it easy and yet she manages to stay true to herself and her convictions when the rest of those around her are acting like idiots.
Caroline recently reviewed this book and mentioned that today’s audience is more drawn to Mary Crawford’s character. I found this to be an interesting insight, since I despised Mary from the start. It’s hard to decide which person I hated more Mary Crawford or Fanny’s Aunt Norris. The aunt is always reminding Fanny that she isn’t like them and is constantly putting Fanny in her place. I wanted to tell Mr. Norris to shove it.
But Mary is conceited and tries to influence the man she loves not to pursue a career with the church since she doesn’t want to be the wife of a clergyman. Granted Edmund wouldn’t be a wealthy man, but he’s following his heart. And he’s the second son so he doesn’t have a lot of choices. I think Mary had some feelings for Edmund, but it was hard for me to know for sure. If you love someone, you support them. That’s my opinion.
As you can see, this novel got a raise out of me. If you’re an Austen fan and you haven’t read this book, I urge you to do so. If you haven’t read any Austen yet, I wouldn’t suggest starting with this book. That may not make sense, but I think you need to be familiar with her writing before tackling this one. Start with Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. Then read this one.
My next Austen novel will be Emma. And then I only have Persuasion left. It’ll be sad to finish all of her novels. Luckily her novels are just as wonderful when you reread them.
This is the 82nd book I’ve read from the 1001 list. I’m narrowing in on 100.