Author: Jane Austen
‘We have all been more or less to blame …
every one of us, excepting Fanny’
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.
Why I Chose Mansfield Park?
My previous experiences with Jane Austen consisted of Pride and Prejudice (loved it) and Sense and Sensibility (ehhh, not so much). So I was curious to see how other books written by Ms Austen would play out in the scheme of things, so I added both Mansfield Park and Emma to my list of books for the challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how Emma plays out on my list of enjoyment.
I have to say that all of three Jane Austen’s that I have read so far (yes, I know that my education is sorely lacking) that this is my least favorite. In fact, I struggle to find anything even remotely good to say about it. Well, hang on, the narrator of the audiobook was good (that counts right?) There was something dislikeable about every single character – even Fanny Price, the supposed ‘heroine’ of the story.
While the story had a similar feel to Jane Eyre – well-off family takes in poor relative and raises her (forgetting the whole school for Jane, but just the dynamics in general) – at least in JE, it was obvious and to Jane’s face, how much she was disliked and looked-down upon. Whereas, even though it was obvious, the behavior of Mrs Norris (OMG, I wanted to beat her around the head – and you can see this in my twitter feeds) with how put upon they were because the family offered to take care of Fanny and how much she owes them. I just wanted to shove a sock in her mouth to shut her up – I mean, seriously woman, guilt trip much. Edmund was maybe the one character who had some slight redeeming qualities but even then, I wanted to tell him to grow a set and stand up to the family. And WTF – it was like I blinked and missed the whole “courtship” – I mean, i saw it coming – it was obvious – but a summation of 9 years in like a page…this is a pet peeve of mine in current romance, so I find it intriguing that it appears even in fiction from the 1800’s.
Thankfully, Joanna Ward’s narration turned a pretty crappy book into a slightly less than crappy listen. I found her narration soothing, even when I had my hands clutched around the steering wheel pretending like I was strangling one of the characters. Her female voices were all easily distinguishable and her male ones while not great, were passable – they didn’t make me want to turn off the audiobook at least (unlike some other narrators). I’ll be interested to see what other stuff she has narrated for future listens.