From a book jacket: Begun in 1811 at the height of Jane Austen’s writing powers and published in 1814, Mansfield Park marks a conscious break from the tone of her first three novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice, the last of which Austen came to see as “rather too light.” Fanny Price is unlike any of Austen’s previous heroines, a girl from a poor family brought up in a splendid country house and possessed of a vast reserve of moral fortitude and imperturbability. She is very different from Elizabeth Bennet, but is the product of the same inspired imagination.
After having thoroughly enjoyed the titles mentioned above (as well as Emma) years and years ago, I finally read Mansfield Park two summers ago. I was pleasantly surprised! Besides the standard wit, poking fun at ridiculous social customs, and insight into human nature, Austen brought the book to a higher moral, Christian plane. I wonder how this coincides with events in the author’s own life…
A reviewer from Amazon remarks:
“Austen is renowned for poking fun at contemporary issues with her ingenious wit, and “Mansfield Park” is concerned with the disillusions of the upper-class: the belief that superior educations, convenient marriages, good manners and breeding and sparkling wit automatically make a morally good person. As such, whilst the Bertram family live their lives with the complete assumption that they are decent people, Fanny’s modesty and self-discipline ensures that her character is superior to each and every one of them. The saying “the moment you believe you are a worthy person is the moment you cease to be one” caters nicely to Austen’s ideal, and her general themes of conservatism, modesty and quiet reflection.
Despite its controversy, “Mansfield Park” is perhaps my favourite Austen novel (I still haven’t read “Northanger Abbey”, so I can’t truthfully make that claim yet) and though Fanny is not as spunky or spirited as many readers would like or are used to, it is actually quite refreshing to have a shy and introverted protagonist who wins the game of life; who advocates the real importance of morals and goodness…”
Age level: 15 and older
Available from Hamilton Public Library