Suzanne's Reviews > Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
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Jan 31, 13

bookshelves: around-my-bookshelf-year-1, fiction, around-the-world-in-52-books-2013, classics
Read from January 15 to 28, 2013

The opening lines of Mansfield Park relate the good fortune of Miss Maria Ward, who, with only seven thousand pounds, has snagged herself a wealthy member of the peerage. As can be imagined, Miss Ward’s family now attempts to use this marriage to their advantage by securing assistance from Sir Thomas to help his poor relations rise above their current position. His niece, Fanny Price, his sent to live with them, to receive an education and make her way to a better position. The story that follows is a humorous look at marriage and money, status and love.

While I did enjoy this novel, it could have used some editing. Ms. Austen took too long to set up the story, and so it took me at least one third of the book before I became really interested. From that point on, however, it was all wonderful Austen, until the end, where it felt as if she did a too-quick wrap up. The ill-fated lovers end up together, but only as a side note. Call me a romantic, but I felt cheated.
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Lisa (Harmonybites) I've love Austen--this is my least favorite of her completed novels and at first I even had it rated one star--for Goodreads "do not like." A friend of mine urged me to reread, and I did then like it much better--Fanny was more sympathetic and less a prig to me on reread, but it remains my least favorite (even if I raised the rating to four). I also found the resolution unsatisfying.

But you know, another friend said she thought we'd probably appreciate this novel a lot more if it weren't by Austen. Because it really is an outlier, you know? Quite different from the others in a lot of ways. Darker, really. The friend who got me to reread says she thinks that sense of dissatisfaction at the end is no accident.


Suzanne Your friend has a good point. I expect so much from Austen and the ending was such a disappointment, especially after all that dramatic tension. But the reality of situation for Fanny is that she was not truly taken by surprise. As much as I, the reader, want her to be "Cinderella", she is an astute judge of character and lives in her "real world." In Fanny's real world, dissatisfaction is a reality and perhaps your friend is correct in thinking that Austen wanted to extend that reality to her readers. If that's the case, I may have to throw in an extra star!


message 3: by Lisa (Harmonybites) (last edited Jan 31, 2013 07:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (Harmonybites) Suzanne wrote: " In Fanny's real world, dissatisfaction is a reality and perhaps your friend is correct in thinking that Austen wanted to extend that reality to her readers. "

When I reread it with my friend's remarks in mind, the first lines of the last chapter really jumped out at me:

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.

A tolerable comfort? Think of that as a description of Lizzie and Darcy at the end of Pride and Prejudice. Or Anne and Wentworth in Persuasion.


Suzanne Perhaps it is the times. What is disappointment and dissatisfaction to us is merely "tolerable comfort" to Austen? I agree with you, however, we expect much more given her track record.


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