Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TBR Challenge: Jane Austen - Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is named for the magnificent, idyllic estate, that is home to the wealthy Bertram family and a powerful symbol of English tradition and stability. The novel's heroine Fanny Price, is a "poor relation" living with the Bertram, acutely conscious of her inferior status and yet daring to love their son Edmund--from afar. But with five marriageable young people on the premises, the peace at Mansfield cannot last. Courtships, entertainments, and intrigues throw the place into turmoil, and Fanny finds herself unwillingly competing with a dazzlingly witty and lovely rival. Unique in its moral design and its brilliant interplay of the forces of tradition and change, Mansfield Park was the first novel of Jane Austen's maturity, and the first in which the author turned her unerring eye on the concerns of English society at a time of great upheaval.

Comment: This month the theme for the challenge is classics. I believe the "what" in the classics definition could be random, but I decided to get as classical as I could, and that is why I chose this book. Besides, it was in my TBR list since 2004 or so...
I'm a big fan of the author (I only have Persuasion left to read now) and her Pride and Prejudice is probably the book I like the most - it certainly is the one I've re-read the most - and I watched tv series, movies based on her books...actually I did see the movie based on this book, a long time ago. I don't remember many details, just a thing here and always, on tv things are much more intensified, I mean, there's a huge purpose in stressing out the most important things, and to exaggerate others...anyway, I was away enough from the tv experience to absorb the book's in an almost fresh way too.

This story is focused on Fanny Price and her character. She lives with her uncle and aunt and cousins at Mansfield Park because she has a lot of brothers and her family decided to let her go so she could have a different life, in a way. Fanny is a very innocent and reliable person. She believes in the rightness of things and that people should behave properly towards others. She has a cousin, Maria, who is about to marry to a very boring man. But when a brother and sister come to visit their sister near Mansfield Park, they obviously had to make the acquaintance of those close to them and then starts a set of things that Fanny watches and judges in her mind. In the end, her character proves strong and dedicated even against illusions.

I don't know how to explain if I liked the book or not. I don't know if I did or not. I enjoyed the reading experience and the interesting goals the author wanted to highlight with this story but to read a book like this isn't the same as reading a lighter things, with a different purpose. This book is mostly about  morality and coherence of spirit. We have a set of characters who do things and intend others and Fanny, who never changes her mind from what is right. There's a focus on the adultery issue but I don't think that is the important thing here. I think the author really wanted the reader to see how some people don't have a good character and that, despite knowing some things shouldn't be done, shouldn't be said or insinuated, people still do that and it's wrong.
As children, most of us are educated to distinguish the good from bad, the right from wrong and our live choices and attitudes follow that pattern, to a point of course. In this novel, ms Austen really pointed the finger at those who should be the example, who present a innocent face, who apparently are trustful and then they act and do things that they shouldn't. I think this is what happens here the most. In this aspect, I liked the book and how this pushed everyone to a certain path, until the disturbed end.
Fanny, of course, kept on and even when she had not as nice thoughts about her parents and siblings in her original home, she did so with some guilt, proving her heart might wonder but wouldn't fail. This is life, right?
As classics go, this one is well done, but of course we expect some happy ending from the author and in this case the HEA was way too subtle, almost unimportant. So sad about this because it's clear from the start how Fanny feels in terms of romance. The characters have a lot to live up for and in that regard, I liked them and how they played their part.

In the end, I was glad to have read another classic and to see that so many subjects are still alive, after so many years. But then, this is why classics remain.


  1. Oh you read Mansfield Park. It's not my favorite book by Austen and admit that I read it only once a long time ago, but I remember liking Fanny Price.

    Now, Persuasion? That is one of my two favorite books by Austen, along with Pride and Prejudice. I've those two (and Emma) countless times. You need to read Persuasion, Sonia!

    1. Yes, this isn't even close to Pride and Prejudice, but I had it, so...
      Persuasion I don't have yet, but I'll make sure to get it soon.

  2. Oh I love Persuasion too. I second Hilcia in that you really have to read it.
    This one is not my favourite Austen but I read it a long time ago and one of these days I'll try a reread a see how I like it.

    1. Well, some things do "feel" different the second time around...I remember it was the case with The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Wilde, I liked it much more on my second reading.