I have a lovely omnibus edition of Jane Austen’s novels- a birthday present from my Mum a few years back, and I usually read one a year. I should say re-read, as I’m previously acquainted with all but ‘Lady Susan’. ‘Mansfield Park’ is apparently one of the less favoured novels, and I can understand why.
‘ … she addressed Lady Bertram in letter which spoke so much of contrition and despondence, such a superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything else, as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation’
And so Fanny Price comes to live with her aunt Bertram, fitting into their family of two boys and two girls. Or rather, fitting beneath, being inferior in both age and social status.
For one who is disposed to sparkly dialogue, and cutting wit, Jane Austen seems to have written herself into a bit of a corner with Fanny. Having a heroine whose principal characteristic is her meekness seems to constrain Austen, even with Mary Crawford superficiality to play with.
The whole story takes a while to get going, and I didn’t feel really engaged till half way through. That said, we also bring ourselves to a book, along with whatever head space we’re in, and maybe I was just in the wrong mood.
Once there’s a bit more by way of event, the story did hold my interest, and there is food for thought of the nature vs. nurture type when Fanny spends an extended visit with her family. As usual, it all comes to a pleasing conclusion with just desserts for our characters. The meek may indeed be blessed, but they don’t make the most entertaining reading.
What did entertain me was finding some ‘Mansfield Park’ movie posters for my blog post! We have the completely inappropriate Billie Piper with carefully angled breasts- maybe the producers agreed with me that the story wasn’t exciting enough. I hadn’t pictured Fanny as the peroxide type myself.
Alternatively, we have get Frances O’Connor looking decidedly more demure, but look at the grip she has on that key! She obviously believes that the meek do inherit the earth (or at least the estate). I bet Jane Austen herself would have something to say about it…