Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Book Review: Mansfield park - Jane Austen

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.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Review - The edition shown is not the same volume that I read.  My edition is part of a set of 6 Jane Austen novels published by Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, belonging to my late mother.

I love Jane Austen, the classic chick lit author.  Okay, so I can take or leave modern day chick lit, but it is Ms Austen's descriptive vocabulary which transports you to the setting which absorbs the reader.  I love the settings of these novels, in this case Northampton, but more often in the south of England.  Her characters are so well described in every detail, we have the insipid and almost vacuous Lady Bertram and her youngest sister Mrs Price, who although having to 'run' her household does it without thought or love.  The middle sister Mrs Norris is the character to be ridiculed, interfering, wishing to further her own good but going about it in a bumbling and wrongful manner.  I liken this character to Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.  Sir Thomas who we are led to believe to be tyrannical is not at all, he just wants everything to be proper and believes in good old fashioned values and does his best to do right when his world starts to fall apart.  He has no support from his wife and Mrs Norris proves herself to be more of a hindrance, it is Fanny who he realises is the only person he can value along with his second son Edmund.  The introduction of Henry and Mary Crawford bring some worldly ways and licentious flirtation to the story.  I can liken Henry's character to John Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility) and  Captain Wickham ( Pride and Prejudice), there always has to be the cad in these books.  Fortunately, as usual, these reckless characters are discovered, sometimes too late, but at least in time for our heroine herself not to have come to any harm.

I loved this book as much as Pride and Prejudice, even though I have not seen the TV series.  I did feel that Ms Austen rushed the ending a little, summarising events rather than detailing how Edmund realised who he really loved and exactly when.  It did not have the polished ending of Pride and Prejudice.  This was for me a minor irritation.  5*

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