Mansfield Park Revelation: I am Fanny Price! Are You?

Newby Hall, Yorkshire

In Defense of Fanny Price

Even after the conclusion of Mansfield Park Madness, I am still ruminating over the novel and the characters. In order to put them to rest, I must get one thing off my chest! My journey to understand the novel has lead me to several insights and one profound truth. 

At the end of chapter 46 when Fanny Price, her sister Susan and cousin Edmund Bertram are returning by carriage to Mansfield Park, Jane Austen gives us a beautiful description of the countryside from Fanny’s perspective. 

Fanny had been everywhere awake to the difference of the country since February; but when they entered the Park her perceptions and her pleasures were of the keenest sort. It was three months, full three months, since her quitting it, and the change was from winter to summer. Her eye fell everywhere on lawns and plantations of the freshest green; and the trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state when farther beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination. Her enjoyment, however, was for herself alone. Edmund could not share it. She looked at him, but he was leaning back, sunk in a deeper gloom than ever, and with eyes closed, as if the view of cheerfulness oppressed him, and the lovely scenes of home must be shut out. 

At that exact moment in my re-reading of Mansfield Park, I had a startling epiphany — a Catherine Earnshaw moment (the heroine of Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, — when she ruminates over all of hero Heathcliff’s faults, and then proclaims exuberantly, “I am Heathcliff“, relieved to finally understand herself and know her destiny). I too had my enlightening moment, discovering through Fanny’s eyes as she observes her environment, the people around her, and her feelings that — “I am Fanny Price!” 

Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price (1983)

Ok, I heard that collective “ick” over cyber-space. I know — no one wants to be like a heroine that others think so ill of, who is accused of being meek, bland, insipid, passive and, –gulp– a prig!  Heavy faults indeed, which I admit not wanting to be associated with either. However, are these faults fairly applied? Is Fanny Price really as intolerable as some accuse her of being?

Carolyn Farina as Audrey Roguet (Fanny Price), Metropolitan (1990)

Honestly, up until that moment in the novel my impression of Fanny Price had been influenced by the general opinion that she is Jane Austen’s meek and unexciting anti-heroine spawning disparity of opinion to the point of igniting “Fanny Wars” among her advocates and nay-sayers in the Jane Austen community. Amused and baffled by all the controversy, here, here, and here, I had just taken it all in, waiting for my chance to discover the truth, trying to stay objective and unaffected until I could make my own decision. 

Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price (1999)

By Chapter 46, I had been impressed with her sincerity, her kindness and her principles in the face of so much human folly surrounding her at Mansfield Park and at Portsmouth. When her mentor and only friend Edmund attempts to convince her to marry Henry Crawford, her reaction is so profound, so firm, so principled, so honorable that I am amazed that others can discredit her. Who indeed could find fault with such a lovely and virtuous woman who knows herself so acutely that she alone understands what will give her a  happy and fulfilling life? Are money and social position more important than principles and love? She thinks not, and I sense that is also the point Jane Austen wants us to discover and question.

Billie Piper as Fanny Price (2007) 

So, in defense of Fanny Price I present “The Fanny List“, representing some of her amiable qualities that she exhibits in the novel. 

Loyalty, honor, sincerity, attentiveness, virtuous, inquisitiveness, bookishness, quietness, reserved, modesty, kindness, consideration, perception, patience, understanding, and morality  

You might think that this is an impressive list of atributes for a heroine, let alone a real person. Please do not misunderstand me when I say “I am Fanny Price”! I proclaim only an affinity to her, not an exact replica. I can only aspire to attain such an exaulted position!

Further-more, when we analyze all of Jane Austen’s seven heroine’s; Elinor & Marianne Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse, Anne Elliot, and Catherine Morland,  they all exhibit many of the characteristics on this list. They are personal qualities that society values, and that many aspire to. In my opinion, in a head-to-head throw-down, Fanny Price beats them all, hands down!

Recently, I took an online quiz created by Kali at the Emma Adaptations website which asked “Which Jane Austen heroine are you?” Surprisingly, my result was tabulated as Elizabeth Bennet! Even though I admire the witty and sparkling heroine of Pride and Prejudice, I was astounded that I subliminally thought that our personalities were alike; quite the contrary! On further reflection, we all might admire and aspire to be Lizzy Bennet, — but in reality — we are Fanny Price. Not such a bad thing after all, — in my humble estimation!

*Header photo of the grounds of Newby Hall, Yorkshire where the movie Mansfield Park (2007) was filmed.

Mansfield Park Madness: Roundup & Conclusion: Winners Announced!

She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing, and it was not possible that encouragement from her should be long wanting. The Narrator on Fanny Price & Edmund Bertram, Chapter 48 

Nobody minds having what is too good for them“, reveals all my profound wonder and inestimable gratitude to all of the participants in Mansfield Park Madness, my first Austen event at Austenprose. Your response to my concept of sharing my personal journey of re-discovery of Jane Austen’s most misunderstood and much maligned novel Mansfield Park has so far surpassed my expectations, that I must owe all of its success to Jane Austen, whose incredible talent still draws a crowd after nearly two hundred years. I hope that a few new readers were inspired to read the book (Dina?), and veterans have come to appreciate the novel more deeply through the information provided, and by others personal observations and understanding. I now can proudly say, I adore Fanny Price, and I hope that others may as well! 

There were many memorable comments and questions over the course of the seventeen days. I learned much from my fellow Janeites about the novel, our dear Fanny Price, and myself. The greatest surprise post of the event (and one that was a last minute impulse) was on day eleven, Fun with Fanny & Friends: 6 word review for Mansfield Park. Your responses were so creative they deserved further recognition. Here are few of my favorites. 

Poor relative. Ha-ha romance. Maria defects. – Sibylle 

Fanny pined while Edmund whined. – Susan 

Fanny was true, through and through, – Katie Dugas 

Heroine boring; villains charming; dog hermaphrodite. – Deborah’s husband! 

Mansfield Park intriguing, challenging and fulfilling. – Dina 

Dear Miss Price, unnoticed, but nice! – Sylvia M.

 

THE PRIZE WINNERS

 

And now for the fun stuff! Here are all the winners of the 17 + prizes. Congratulations to all, and many thanks to all who participated. 

DAY 1 – (Aug 15) – Book: MP Oxford World’s ClassicsSUSAN

DAY 2 – (Aug 16) – Book: MP Oxford Illustrated EditionKIRA

DAY 3 – (Aug 17) – Movie: MP 1983 – LUTHIEN84

DAY 4 – (Aug 18) – Audio: MP Naxos Unabridged –  SYLVIA M.   

DAY 4 – (Aug 18) – Audio: MP Naxos Abridged – KATIE

DAY 5 – (Aug 19) – Ephemera: JA Journal – RAE  

DAY 6 – (Aug 20) – Movie: Metropolitan – KIRAGADE

DAY 7 – (Aug 21) – Book: MP PenguinLESLIE

DAY 8 – (Aug 22) – Book: JA Miscellany copy 1 – FATIMA

DAY 8 – (Aug 22) – Book: JA Miscellany copy 2 – KATHLEEN ANN

DAY 9 – (Aug 23) – Book: MP Barnes & Noble – KAREN in MARYLAND

DAY 10 – (Aug 24) – Movie: MP 1999 – DAE   

DAY 11 – (Aug 25) – Ephemera: JA Address Book – KATIE DUGAS

DAY 12 – (Aug 26) – Book: MP Oxford World’s ClassicsLAURA

DAY 13 – (Aug 27) – Movie: MP 2007 – CHERYL

DAY 14 – (Aug 28) – Book: MP BroadviewSIBYLLE

DAY 15 – (Aug 29) – Book: Edmund Bertram’s Diary copy 1 – DINA

DAY 15 – (Aug 29) – Book: Edmund Bertram’s Diary copy 2 – AMY CATHERINE

DAY 15 – (Aug 29) – Book: Edmund Bertram’s Diary copy 3 – JANEEN

DAY 15 – (Aug 29) – Book: Mansfield Park RevisitedFELICIA

DAY 15 – (Aug 29) – Book: The Matters at MansfieldMARY

DAY 15 - (Aug 29) – Book: Central ParkKIRA                                                      

DAY 16 – (Aug 30) – Book: MP Norton Critical EditionCOURTNEY 

Winners – Your prompt reply is appreciated. You have one week to claim your prize! Please e-mail me, (austenprose at verizon dot net) before Sunday, September 7th, 2008. If I do not receive a response by a winner by that date, I will draw another name and continue until all of the prizes have a home to mail them to. Thanks again to everyone for your great contributions. Congrats to the winners, and enjoy!

 

Mansfield Park Madness is now officially concluded!

(Fanny is waiting for you on that bench at Sotherton, until you the read the book again!) 
 

THE END

 

Mansfield Park: Jane Austen’s Collection of Opinions: Day 16 Give-away!

 

OPINIONS 

Mrs. Augusta Bramstone – owned that she thought S. & S. – and P. & P. downright nonsense, but expected to like M. P. better, & having finished the 1st vol. – flattered herself she had got through the worst. 

We have the unique pleasure of still having Jane Austen’s collection of opinions by her family and friends on her novel Mansfield Park which she assembled between 1814-1816. My favorite totally candid remark is listed above as the epigraph. Too funny! One wonders (ever so slightly) if Jane Austen’s mother started the rumor that Fanny Price is insipid, and what Mrs. Lefroy thought of Northanger Abbey three years later! Ha! Enjoy. 

“We certainly do not think it as a whole, equal to P. & P. – but  it has many & great beauties. Fanny is a delightful Character! and Aunt Norris is a great favourite of mine. The Characters are natural & well supported, & many of the Dialogues excellent. – You  need not fear the publication being considered as discreditable to the talents of it’s Author.” - F [rancis] W[illiam] A[usten] 

Not so clever as P. & P. – but  pleased with it altogether. Liked the character of Fanny. Admired the Portsmouth Scene. – Mr. K. [Edward Austen Knight] 

Edward & George [Knight]. – Not liked it near so well as P. & P. – Edward admired Fanny – George disliked her. – George interested by nobody but Mary Crawford – Edward pleased with Henry C[rawford] – Edmund objected to, as cold & formal. – Henry  C[rawford]’s going off with Mrs. R[ushworth], at such a time, when so much in love with Fanny, thought unnatural by Edward. 

Fanny Knight. – Liked it, in many parts, very much indeed, delighted with Fanny; – but   not satisfied with the end – wanting more Love between her & Edmund – & could not think it natural that Edmund should be so much attached to a woman without Principle like Mary C[rawford] – or promote Fanny’s marrying Henry. 

Anna [Lefroy] liked it better than P. & P. – but not so well as S. & S. – could not bear Fanny. – Delighted with Mrs. Norris, the scene at Portsmouth, & all the humourous parts. 

Mrs. James Austen, very much pleased. Enjoyed Mrs. Norris particularly, & the scene at Portsmouth. Thought Henry Crawford’s going off with Mrs. Rushworth very natural. 

Miss Clewes’s objections much the same as Fanny’s. 

Miss Lloyd preferred it altogether to either of the others – Delighted with Fanny. – Hated Mrs. Norris. 

My Mother – not liked it so well as P. & P. – Thought Fanny insipid. – Enjoyed Mrs. Norris. 

Cassandra – thought it quite as clever, tho’ not so brilliant, as P. & P. – Fond of Fanny. – Delighted much in Mr. Rushworth’s stupidity. 

My Eldest Brother [James Austen] – a warm admirer of it in general. – Delighted with the Portsmouth Scene. 

[James] Edward [Austen-Leigh] – Much like his Father. – Objected to Mrs. Rushworth’s Elopement as unnatural. 

Mr. B[enjamin] L[efroy] – Highly pleased with Fanny Price – & a warm admirer of the Portsmouth Scene. – Angry with Edmund for not being in love with her, & hating Mrs. Norris for teazing her. 

Miss Burdett – Did not like it so well as P. & P. 

Mrs. James Tilson – Liked it better than P. & P. 

Fanny Cage – did not much like it – not to be compared to P. & P. – nothing interesting in the Characters – Language poor. – Characters natural & well supported – Improved as it went on. 

Mr. & Mrs. Cooke – very much pleased with it – particularly with the Manner in which the Clergy are treated.  – Mr. Cooke called it “the most sensible Novel he had ever read.” – Mrs. Cooke wished for a good Matronly Character. 

Mary Cooke – quite as much pleased with it, as her Father & Mother; seemed to enter into Lady B[ertram]’s character, & enjoyed Mr. Rushworth’s folly. Admired Fanny in general; but thought she ought to have been more determined on overcoming her own feelings, when she saw Edmund’s attachment to Miss Crawford. 

Miss Burrel – admired it very much – particularly Mrs. Norris & Dr. Grant. 

Mrs. Bramstone  – much pleased with it; particularly with the character of Fanny, as being so very natural. Thought Lady Bertram like herself. – Preferred it to either of the others – but imagined that might be her want of Taste – as she does not understand Wit. 

Mrs. Augusta Bramstone – owned that she thought S. & S. – and P. & P. downright nonsense, but expected to like M. P. better, & having finished the 1st vol. – flattered herself she had got through the worst. 

The families at Deane – all pleased with it. – Mrs. Anna Harwood delighted with Mrs. Norris & the green Curtain. 

The Kintbury [Fowle] Family – very much pleased with it; – preferred it to either of the others. 

Mr. Egerton the Publisher – praised it for it’s Morality, & for being so equal a Composition. – No weak parts. 

Lady Robert Kerr wrote – “You may be assured I read every line with the greatest interest & am more delighted with it than my humble pen can express. The excellent delineation of Character, sound sense, Elegant Language & the pure morality with which it abounds, makes it a most desirable as well as useful work, & reflects the highest honour &c. &c.- Universally admired in Edinburgh, by all the wise ones. – Indeed, I have not heard a single fault given to it.” 

Miss Sharpe – “I think it excellent – & of it’s good sense & moral Tendency there can be no doubt. – Your Characters are drawn to the Life – so very, very natural & just – but as you beg me to be perfectly honest, I must confess I prefer P. & P.” 

Mrs. Carrick. – “All who think deeply & feel much will give the Preference to Mansfield Park.” 

Mr. J. Plumptre. – “I never read a novel which interested me so very much throughout, the characters are all so remarkably well kept up & so well drawn, & the plot is so well contrived that I had not an idea till the end which of the two would marry Fanny, H. C[rawford] or Edmund. Mrs. Norris amused me particularly, & Sir Thomas is very clever, & his conduct proves admirably the defects of the modern system of Education.” – Mr. J. P. made two objections, but only one of them was remembered, the want of some character more striking & interesting to the generality of Readers, than Fanny was likely to be. 

Sir James Langham & Mr. H. Sanford, – having been told that it was much inferior to P. & P. – began it expecting to dislike it, but were very soon extremely pleased with it – & I beleive, did not think it at all inferior. 

Alethea Bigg. – “I have read M. P. & heard it very much talked of, very much praised. I like it myself & think it very good indeed, but as I never say what I do not think, I will add that, although it is superior in a great many points in my opinion to the other two Works, I think it has not the Spirit of P. & P., except perhaps the Price family at Portsmouth, & they are delightful in their way.” 

Charles [Austen] – did not like it near so well as P. & P. – thought it wanted Incident. 

Mrs. Dickson. – “I have bought M. P. — but it is not equal to P. & P.” 

Mrs. Lefroy – liked it, but thought it a mere Novel. 

Mrs. Portal – admired it very much – objected cheifly to Edmund’s not being brought more forward. 

Lady Gordon wrote – “In most novels you are amused for the time with a set of Ideal People whom you never think of afterwards or whom you the least expect to meet in common life, whereas in Miss A—-‘s works, & especially in M. P. you actually live with them, you fancy yourself one of the family; & the scenes are so exactly descriptive, so perfectly natural, that there is scarcely an Incident, or conversation, or a person, that you are not inclined to imagine you have at one time or other in your Life been a witness to, borne a part in, & been acquainted with.” 

Mrs. Pole wrote, – “There is a particular satisfaction in reading all Miss A—-‘s works – they are so evidently written by a Gentlewoman – most Novellists fail & betray themselves in attempting to describe familiar scenes in high Life; some little vulgarism escapes & shews that they are not experimentally acquainted with what they describe, but here it is quite different. Everything is natural, & the situations & incidents are told in a manner which clearly evinces the Writer to belong to the Society whose Manners she so ably delineates.” Mrs. Pole also said that no Books had ever occasioned so much canvassing & doubt, & that everybody was desirous to attribute them to some of their own friends, or to some person of whom they thought highly. 

Admiral Foote – surprised that I had the power of drawing the Portsmouth-Scenes so well. 

Mrs. Creed – preferred S. & S. and P. & P. – to Mansfield Park. 

First published in Jane Austen, The Minor Works, vol. 6 of The Works of Jane Austen, ed. R.W. Chapman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), 431-435 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 16 Give-away 

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

 

Mansfield Park: Norton Critical Edition 

W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. (1998). Novel text and extensive supplemental material edited by Claudia L. Johnson. Trade paperback, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0393967913 

Upcoming post
Mansfield Park Madness is almost over!
Day 16 – Aug 30          Last day to leave comments
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Concludes

Mansfield Park Sequels: Edmund Bertram’s Diary: Day 15 Give-away!

 THE SEQUELS
 
Since Austen-esque author Amanda Grange first gave us Darcy’s Diary, the retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective in 2005, she has been dutifully working her way through all six of Jane Austen’s heroes with her books; Mr. Knightley’s Diary, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, Edmund Bertram’s Diary and the latest hardcover release, Colonel Brandon’s Diary. Each supply readers with an interesting male vantage on Jane Austen’s classic stories faithfully retold to mirror Jane Austen’s storyline, character personality and theme. It’s almost like reading Jane Austen’s novels from a parallel universe, but written in a more modern style. In this newly released paper back edition, Amanda Grange gives the hero of Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram a sympathetic and honest treatment. If you are interested in seeing how a man thinks (as apposed to Jane Austen’s feminine view point) I would recommend giving this novel a try. Even though you may already know the storyline, revisiting one of Jane Austen’s most complex and intriguing novels is a always a treat. And if you (like me) believe in keeping the best for last, Ms. Grange is presently writing Henry Tilney’s Diary, which I am certain from my interest in Jane Austen’s delightfully charming character, will be well worth the wait! 
 

 Review highlights

 

“Once again, Amanda Grange has provided a highly entertaining retelling of a classic Jane Austen novel, as seen through the hero’s eyes. EDMUND BERTRAM’S DIARY is pure fun, with the story told in a diary format that makes the reader feel like she’s taking a peek into Edmund’s most innermost thoughts. . . I enjoyed every moment of it.” – Kay James , Romance Reader at Heart 

“Edmund Bertram’s Diary is a sympathetic portrait of a young man struggling with the difficult choices that life throws at us all.” – Austenblog 

“Grange captures the flavour and period extremely well, giving those of us who cannot get enough of this type of novel a story that is both cleverly told and enjoyable.” Red Roses for Authors Reviews 

“Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula and retells the familiar story with great verve.” – Historical Novels Review 

 

Further reading

  • Read an excerpt from Edmund Bertram’s Diary
  • Read an in-depth interview of Amanda Grange on AustenBlog

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 15 Give-away

 
Leave a comment by August 30th to qualify for a drawing on August 31st for one of three copies available of 
 

 
Edmund Bertam’s Diary, by Amanda Grange
 
Berkely Trade (2008). A re-telling of the novel Mansfield Park from the perspective of hero Edmund Bertram. Trade paperback, 344 pages, ISBN 978-0425223796 

Upcoming posts
Only two days left to qualify for the many great give-aways
Winners announced August 31st
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Mansfield Park Sequels: Mansfield Park Revisited: Is Fanny Price a Funny Girl? Day 15 Give-away!

THE SEQUELS

A recent review at the venerable on-line periodical Publisher’s Weekly of the re-issue of Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken gave me quite a good chuckle. It’s amazing how a small typo can change the whole direction of a book! It appears on first glance that this reviewer thinks that Jane Austen’s heroine from Mansfield Park is one in the same as Broadway legend Fanny Brice! 

Now, our dear Fanny Price has been called many things; insipid, weak and other unmentionables which have lead to a few heated Janeite debates on Austen-L and elsewhere online, but this is a first. We knew that Mansfield Park was full of theatricals and references to the stage, but if my memory serves, Fanny refused to act in play Lovers’ Vows in the novel, so if she has had a change of heart and I have missed Fanny’s singing, dancing and comedic talents on Broadway, it is quite an oversight! Oh what merriment this typo created! 

Mansfield Park Revisited

Joan Aiken. Sourcebooks, $14.95 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4022-1289-5 

Author and scholar Aiken (1924-2004), known for her Jane Austen continuations, has imagined a sequel to Mansfield Park that’ll satisfy some Austen fans while enraging others. Heroine Fanny Brice has married her cousin Edmund Bertram and decamped for the family’s Caribbean plantation, leaving her younger sister, Susan, behind to serve as Lady Bertram’s companion at Mansfield Park. Less timid than her sister, but dismissed just the same by her finer relatives, Susan soon encounters the Crawfords, Henry and Mary, a diverting but amoral brother-and-sister pair who had nearly undone the proud Bertram family. Aiken’s sympathetic vision of the Crawfords’ fate, after their seduction of Fanny and her cousins, may strike a false note for Austen purists, but Aiken ably reproduces the author’s traditional plot twists and social comedy, if not her fluid prose or biting satire. (Oct.) 

Mansfield Park Revisited is being reissued by Sourcebooks on October 1, 2008, and quite possibly Joan Aiken’s sequel to Mansfield Park does contain the character of Fanny Brice, the Broadway and Radio legend, who hoofs her way to the Bertram’s Caribbean plantation to sing and dance and entertain the locals. But I doubt it!  

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 15 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th to qualify for a drawing on August 31st for one copy of 

 

Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment, by Joan Aiken

(On sale Octber 1, 2008) Sourcebooks Landmark (2008). Re-issue. Sequel to the novel Mansfield Park in which Fanny’s sister Susan’s story is revealed. Trade paperback, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1402212895 

Upcoming posts!
Only two days left to qualify for the many great give-aways!
Winners announced August 31st.
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Conclusion

Mansfield Park Sequels: The Matters at Mansfield: Day 15 Give-away

THE SEQUELS 

What happens when you mix the classic novelist Jane Austen with mystery writer Anne Perry? Author Carrie Bebris’s delightfully funny and fresh Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series. Avid readers of Ms. Bebris will be happy to learn that the fourth book in the series, The Matters at Mansfield: Or the Crawford Affair will be available on September 2nd. for their continued amusement and delight. 

In the previous novels in this series; Pride and Prescience: Or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged, Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited, and North By Northanger, or The Shades of Pemberley, we follow Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy after their marriage as they visit their friends from the different Jane Austen novels and sleuth out murder and mystery throughout Regency England. I have not been able to acquire an advance copy of this novel to comment on it thoroughly, and it is a bit too soon for reviews to be about online, but here are some excellent reviews on the author’s previous title North by Northanger (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award in 2007) to give you an idea of her style and renown. 

“Bebris provides another feast for Janeites in . . . this well-told tale.” Publishers Weekly 

“Bebris captures Austen’s style and the Regency period perfectly, drawing her characters with a sure hand.” Library Journal 

“A new Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery is always cause for celebration in this household —  and the latest adventure featuring the amatuer sleuths is well up to Carrie Bebris’ usual high standard. . . . A terrific read: I devoured it in a single sitting.” Jane Austen’s Regency World 

“An utter delight . . . every aspect is pitch-perfect.” — Romantic Times Book Club (Top Pick) 

“The writing is crisp, dryly humorous, and consistent with Austen’s style. This book is the best of the three mysteries so far. It is tightly and credibly constructed down to the last detail, heavy on danger and intrigue, historically accurate, and engaging.” VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) 

Further reading 

  • Review of The Matters at Mansfield: or The Crawford Affair at Publishers Weekly
  • Author Carrie Bebris’s website
  • Read an excerpt of The Matters at Mansfield: or The Crawford Affair 

Mansfield Park Madness – Day 15 Give-away

Matters at Mansfield: or The Crawford Affair 

Part of the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, by Carrie Bebris. Pride and Prejudice’s characters of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy going sleuthing in this detective mystery spinoff. Hardcover, 288 page, ISBN 978-0765318473 

Upcoming posts 
Only two days left to qualify for the many great give-aways
Winners announced August 31
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Mansfield Park Sequels: Central Park: Day 15 Give-away

THE SEQUELS 

In this third book in “The Jane Austen Series” from author Debra White Smith, the story of Jane Austen’s early 19th-century novel Mansfield Park is retold in contemporary New York city with the famous public Central Park as its axis. Prolific author White Smith has had great success with her series of retellings of Jane Austen’s major novels which include First Impression, Reason and Romance, Central Park, Northpointe Chalet, Amanda, and Possibilities (in book series order). Her Christian influenced writing style appeals to many readers and Jane Austen fans that are looking for an entertaining light romance with amusing plots. Experienced readers of Austen might also enjoy discovering and identifying all of Smith White’s contemporary characters and plot lines from Austen’s novels, or might suggest this series of books to a novice Austen reader to motivate them to in turn read Austen and find the similarities between the each of the books. 

Review highights for Debra White Smith 

“Her characters are delightful and the resolutions satisfying.” Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Romantic Times 

“Still, Debra White Smith’s stories-Possibilities is the sixth and presumably the last in her Austen series-have a certain sweet appeal, and the world that she creates is consistent in its detail, whether or not one would care to live in it. Not every ardent Janeite will like these tales, but they may well bring new Converts to the Fold, so to speak, if one of her readers decides to try out the real thing.” Alison T., AustenBlog 

“I enjoy Jane Austen and feel that Debra White Smith does an excellent job portraying each character from Jane Austen into a present-day character, for example, in Central Park each character faces the same overall issues that they do in Mansfield Park. I have enjoyed the Austen Series and would recommend it to readers.” Bible Knowledge Bookstore customer comment 

Further reading 

  • An interview of Debra White Smith on Focus on Fiction 
  • Debra White Smith’s website 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 15 Give-away 

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for a drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

 Central Park: An Austen Series Book 3

By Debra White Smith. Harvest House Publishers (2005). Contemporary re-telling of the novel Mansfield Park set in New York. Trade paperback, 348 pages, ISBN 978-0736908733 

Upcoming posts 
Only two days left to qualify for the many great give-aways
Winners announced August 31
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Mansfield Park Chapters 41-48: Summation, Musings & Discussion; Day 14 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

Good sense, like hers, will always act when really called upon; and she found that she had been able to name him to her mother, and recall her remembrance of the name, as that of “William’s friend,” though she could not previously have believed herself capable of uttering a syllable at such a moment. The consciousness of his being known there only as William’s friend was some support. Having introduced him, however, and being all reseated, the terrors that occurred of what this visit might lead to were overpowering, and she fancied herself on the point of fainting away. The Narrator, Chapter 41 

Quick Synopsis 

Henry visits Fanny in Portsmouth and attempts to show her that he has mended his selfish ways, showing concern for his tenants and her health. He asks her for business advice and she responds, “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be”. A chatty letter from Mary Crawford confirms that she only values money and connections. Fanny borrows books from the circulating library so she and Susan can study together. Edmund writes to only talk about Mary, and mentions that he saw Maria and Henry together at a party in town.  Tom is seriously ill. Three months pass and Fanny longs to be home.  Mary writes quizzing Fanny about the extent of Tom’s illness. If he dies, their will be a better man to inherit Mansfield. Mary writes again, warning Fanny of a rumor about Henry. What does it mean? The newspaper reveals that Henry and Maria have run off together. Scandal! Edmund writes to reveal that Julia and Mr. Yates have eloped. She and Susan are summoned immediately to Mansfield. Everyone there is in a sour mood. Aunt Norris blames Fanny for Henry’s actions. No sign of the couple. Tom improves and will live. Edmund has a falling out with Mary and is done with her. Henry will not marry Maria, so in support of her favorite niece, Mrs. Norris leaves Mansfield to live with her. Edmund realizes he is in love with Fanny and they marry to live in Mansfield parsonage. Sir Thomas finally has the daughter he longed for. The end! 

Musings 

I am continually struck by what good sense Fanny has in the face of pressure and adversity. She often acts as everyone ought, the moral compass of principled decorum. Her visit to Portsmouth is quite an eye opener for the reader and the heroine. Jane Austen does not write about poverty often, but she certainly has the knack for it. I am in no doubt of the shabby condition of the household, the coarseness of her father with his ‘oaths’ and drinking, the unruly ragamuffin siblings, and the indifference of her mother to it all. Sir Thomas may have sent her there to see what a small income means, but I laughed out loud at our dear Fanny’s expense when I read this passage! 

After being nursed up at Mansfield, it was too late in the day to be hardened at Portsmouth; and though Sir Thomas, had he known all, might have thought his niece in the most promising way of being starved, both mind and body, into a much juster value for Mr. Crawford’s good company and good fortune, he would probably have feared to push his experiment farther, lest she might die under the cure. The Narrator, Chapter 42 

Too true! To torment her further, Henry Crawford arrives and is so civil and genteel, reminding her of her cousins and the more refined life that she has come to appreciate at Mansfield Park. When he begins to tell her of his concern for his tenants, I am a bit suspicious. Austen really starts to lay on the sympathy for Henry to confuse her, and us. Will he truly be reformed by his love of Fanny? He alone seems to be aware of how abominably her cousins treat her at Mansfield, even more so from a distance, as they have forgotten her in Portsmouth and do not write. He sees the change in her health and knows that she must walk and take the air to maintain it. It all starts to add up in Fanny’s mind.

And, if in little things, must it not be so in great? So anxious for her health and comfort, so very feeling as he now expressed himself, and really seemed, might not it be fairly supposed that he would not much longer persevere in a suit so distressing to her? The Narrator, Chapter 42

The story quickly turns to be all about Mary Crawford and her continued hope to mold Edmund into the rich and prominent man she craves. Through a series of letters Fanny is kept informed of the dealings of her cousins. It is her lifeline, and she anxiously awaits word as the news in each letter brings new anxieties and concerns. Foremost on her mind is Edmund and Mary’s relationship. Will he propose?  But he is silent and only Mary, who Fanny would rather not correspond with at all writes boasting of her society friend’s approval of him. Mary only values material things; a house in town, parties and praise from society and Fanny is disgusted by it. Mary is being influenced by her environment and friends!

Yet there was no saying what Miss Crawford might not ask. The prospect for her cousin grew worse and worse. The woman who could speak of him, and speak only of his appearance! What an unworthy attachment! To be deriving support from the commendations of Mrs. Fraser! She who had known him intimately half a year! Fanny was ashamed of her. The Narrator, Chapter 43

The long letter that Fanny has been anticipating finally arrives from Edmund. He does see Mary’s faults and her fixation on the values that he has questioned from the very first. She is even more corrupted by her friends and the changes he sees in her from the influence of Mrs. Fraser a cold-hearted, vain woman who married for convenience has altered Mary for the worse. He sees the differences between what she wants (money) and what he can offer more acutely. Still conflicted he shares an important observation with Fanny.

“I cannot give her up, Fanny. She is the only woman in the world whom I could ever think of as a wife. If I did not believe that she had some regard for me, of course I should not say this, but I do believe it. I am convinced that she is not without a decided preference.” Edmund Bertram, Chapter 44

Fanny, with her gentle and patient manner exclaims to herself that he should Fix, commit, condemn yourself “. Bravo! She has had enough vacillation, and wants relief from the prolonged agony of not knowing. When Lady Bertram writes to alert Fanny that Tom is gravely ill, I though that they might send for her, but no. She must continue in her exile with her family, away from all whom she really cares about. Fanny is further appalled when Mary writes to quiz her for information on the extent of Tom’s illness. Material girl that Mary is, Edmund now becomes an even better catch should he become the heir to a Baronet if his brother dies.

She (Fanny) was more inclined to hope than fear for her cousin (Tom), except when she thought of Miss Crawford; but Miss Crawford gave her the idea of being the child of good luck, and to her selfishness and vanity it would be good luck to have Edmund the only son. The Narrator, Chapter 45

The next few chapters of the novel swiftly move to the climax and conclusion packed with so much action and drama that the pages just fly by for me. Fanny will receive two letters that change the entire course of her family and her life. The first letter hastily written and brief, is from Mary warning Fanny of a rumor about Henry. She is puzzled. What does it mean? To learn the whole story by chance is a clever twist by Austen when Fanny’s father discovers the scandalous tidbit in the gossip section of the London newspaper. Henry and Maria have run away together, and the couple’s whereabouts are unknown. Astonishing!

“but so many fine ladies were going to the devil nowadays that way, that there was no answering for anybody.” Mr. Price, Chapter 46

That Austen should give the simple and unrefined Mr. Price the delivery of such an insightful line is hysterical and very effective. Fanny’s reaction is a telling sign of her good nature, always wanting to believe the best of everyone and everything. She does not want to acknowledge it, but pieces the facts together from Mary’s letter and changes her mind. The second letter from Edmund confirms her fears and adds to others in his news that Julia and Mr. Yates have scandalized the family further and eloped to Scotland. Sir Thomas has requested that she return home immediately, and Edmund will arrive tomorrow to fetch her and Susan. Incredible! She has been released from her exile, but has she been forgiven? Edmund and Fanny have a joyful reunion “My Fanny, my only sister; my only comfort now!”, and she sees that Edmund is in low spirits and very quiet. She is very glad to quickly be on their way home!

How her heart swelled with joy and gratitude as she passed the barriers of Portsmouth, and how Susan’s face wore its broadest smiles, may be easily conceived. The Narrator, Chapter 46

How will the rest of the family be when she arrives after a three month absence and under such distressing conditions? Sour and sullen. Amazingly, Mrs. Norris is in the worst state having taken her favorite niece Maria’s impropriety personally since she had recommended the match. She shifts the blame very quickly though, now censuring Fanny for the couple’s wild behavior. If she had accepted Henry’s proposal he would have not looked elsewhere for amusements. Edmund is quiet and distant for some time until he finally confides in Fanny, relaying his final conversation with Mary Crawford and her downfall in his eyes.

“but the manner in which she spoke of the crime itself, giving it every reproach but the right; considering its ill consequences only as they were to be braved or overborne by a defiance of decency and impudence in wrong; and last of all, and above all, recommending to us a compliance, a compromise, an acquiescence in the continuance of the sin, on the chance of a marriage which, thinking as I now thought of her brother, should rather be prevented than sought; all this together most grievously convinced me that I had never understood her before, and that, as far as related to mind, it had been the creature of my own imagination, not Miss Crawford, that I had been too apt to dwell on for many months past. That, perhaps, it was best for me; I had less to regret in sacrificing a friendship, feelings, hopes which must, at any rate, have been torn from me now. And yet, that I must and would confess that, could I have restored her to what she had appeared to me before, I would infinitely prefer any increase of the pain of parting, for the sake of carrying with me the right of tenderness and esteem.’ Edmund Bertram, chapter 47 

The final blow in his view against her character and good judgment will be in her seeing the fault not in the deed itself, but that they were not clever enough to hide it and continue clandestinely. Her desire for Henry and Maria to marry and for his family to overlook the ‘sin’ and accept them back is more than he can abide. He now sees that he has never understood her before, and been deluded into overlooking her true nature. Again, Austen allows us to see people’s foibles through adversity, when our true principles are tested. Mary’s final decline in Edmund’s esteem is a great example of this. He is now done with her forever. His fears that he shall never meet another woman so fine again soon change. 

Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Crawford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well, or a great deal better: whether Fanny herself were not growing as dear, as important to him in all her smiles and all her ways, as Mary Crawford had ever been; and whether it might not be a possible, an hopeful undertaking to persuade her that her warm and sisterly regard for him would be foundation enough for wedded love. The Narrator, Chapter 48 

So this is the extent of the romance for Fanny and Edmund? I do admit to feeling a bit cheated, given only a few short passages on the last page, but in looking back on their relationship throughout the novel it had been foreshadowed long ago by Austen through their friendship and mutual regard for each other. Is she slyly telling us that men and women can not be friends. That their is always more in any man – woman realtionship? Sadly, there is no proposal and acceptance scene. Drat! However, just like Edmund I also came to think of their being a couple as a natural thing, and not a reaction to his rejection of Mary. Austen wraps up the novel in a neat package very quickly.

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. The Narrator, Chapter 48

Those who have erred and behaved badly get their just deserts, hurrah! Henry will not marry Maria and she leaves him to live with Mrs. Norris, who “it may be reasonably supposed that their tempers became their mutual punishment“, Julia and Mr. Yates are eventually accepted back into the fold (after Sir Thomas comes to understand the extent of his wealth), Dr. Grant is promoted to Westminster and moves to London, dies from a fit of apoplexy from eating three rich dinners in one week, Mary lives with her widowed sister in London unable to find again such a fine man among the dandies in London, and Henry regrets the loss of Fanny forever, and ever! Sir Thomas, the one person who had also acted badly throughout the novel changes – now sees the error of his ways through the neglect of his daughter’s education – and is happy that he has found the daughter that he had always wanted in Fanny. Edmund succeeds to the living of Mansfield, and they live happily ever after in the shadow of Mansfield Park. 

On that event they removed to Mansfield; and the Parsonage there, which, under each of its two former owners, Fanny had never been able to approach but with some painful sensation of restraint or alarm, soon grew as dear to her heart, and as thoroughly perfect in her eyes, as everything else within the view and patronage of Mansfield Park had long been. The Narrator, Chapter 48 

THE END 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library

Cast of characters

Chapter 41-48 summary

Chapter 41-48 quotes and quips 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 14 Give-away 

Leave a comment to by August 30 qualify for the free drawing on August 31 for one copy of.

 

Mansfield Park: Broadview Literary Texts Series

Broadview Press (2001). Novel text and introduction and notes by June Sturrock. Trade paperback, 528 pages, ISBN 978-1551110981 

Upcoming posts

Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: The Scoop! What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Mansfield Park (2007) Movie: Musings & Discussion: Day 13 Give-away!

 

MOVIES

Interestingly, it has been exactly seven months since this adaptation of Mansfield Park aired on PBS during The Complete Jane Austen series last January. I wish that I could say that time has made my heart grow fonder, but a recent re-viewing has not changed my feelings in any respect to my original review, and I am still greatly disappointed in it. It fails as a true adaptation to Jane Austen’s masterpiece for many reasons which I and others have previously pointed out, but I think that I could have overlooked all of its blunders if the screen writer Maggie Wadey had allowed our heroine Fanny Price to have the moral fortitude and principles that Jane Austen had endowed to her in the first place! This Fanny Price is more a flighty Kitty Bennet, ready to follow than act as the moral compass for us to measure the behavior of the rest of characters against, which I believe was Austen’s intension.  

There are some who like this film and there are elements that I enjoyed and appreciated myself. The cast was excellent with one exception. Here are a few images to highlight their performances. 

Fanny Price (Billie Piper) and Edmund Bertram (Blake Ritson) enjoying a ride and discussion on the grounds of Mansfield Park. Piper flopped as Fanny given nothing to work with, and Ritson was not quite staid and moralistic enough, though he was nice eye candy, looking rather like a young Rod Stewart! 

Mary Crawford (Hayley Atwell) was duly devious and alluring and shined in the role. When she was not on screen, I was waiting for her return! Henry Crawford (Joseph Beattie) is a talented actor who I recently enjoyed in Brideshead Revisted, but I wanted him to be stronger and more slippery than the director Iain McDonald would allow. 

Maria Bertram (Michele Ryan) was the ultimate knock-out sultry siren! What man could resist such beauty and charm? Mr. Rushworth (Rory Kinnear) seems to be always portrayed by large slightly pudgy men who are a bit clueless! On this account, the director selected the ideal match to Austen’s intension and Kinnear plays Rushworth perfectly. Julia Bertram (Katherine Steadman) being the second fiddle to her sister Maria is thankless role in the movie and the book. Steadman was, well second fiddle. 

Sir Thomas arrives home from Antigua unexpectedly to discover his children in the throws of a theatrical. The looks on their faces tells all. This part, they got right. 

 

Fanny Price (Billie Piper) in one of her happier moments. Fanny is not given much dialogue with any substance unfortunately.  Piper gives her lots of perk though! 

Mary Crawford (Hayley Atwell) looking at Edmund with impudence and authority. She will make any man who dares to love her tow the line. 

Lady Bertram (Jemma Redgrave) regally lounges on the settee with Pug (Holly). Though not stated in the novel, I often wonder if Lady Bertram is ill or under the influence (as some actors have seemed to portray her). This Lady Bertram actually has opinions and notices her children! 

Henry Crawford (Joseph Beattie) attempts to convince Fanny Price (Billie Piper) to marry him. I never quite felt his intensity and determination as I did in the novel. Austen is so persistent in his pursuit, that at one point, I actually thought that Fanny was wavering and would succumb. This Fanny is not as appalled and repulsed as she should be. 

Edmund Bertram (Blake Ritson) at the exact moment he realizes that Mary Crawford is a fake and rejects her. Ritson is at his best in this scene. 

Fanny and Edmund finally discover that they love each other, all because of the color purple. Go figure! 

Further reading and viewing 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 13 Give-away!

Leave a comment by August 30th. to be eligible for a drawing on August 31st for one copy of

Mansfield Park (2007)

Adapted by Maggie Wadey, directed by Ian B. MacDonald, an ITV & WGBH production, 92 minutes. Staring Billie Piper as Fanny Price, Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram and Hayley Atwell as Mary Crawford. 

Upcoming posts
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48
Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Mansfield Park Chapters 33-40: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 12 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

He was in love, very much in love; and it was a love which, operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater consequence because it was withheld, and determined him to have the glory, as well as the felicity, of forcing her to love him. The Narrator on Henry Crawford, Chapter 33 

Quick Synopsis 

Henry persists in his quest for Fanny’s hand. Sir Thomas solicits Edmunds help, who attempts to discern what Fanny’s doubts are. He insists it was Henry’s abrupt delivery. She tells him she can not love a man of such unprincipled character. Everyone at Mansfield and the parsonage know of Henry’s proposal and in their own way try to chisel away at Fanny’s resolve. William visits on leave. Sir Thomas sees an opportunity for Fanny to see the difference that a good income can bring, and sends her home to her impoverished family in Portsmouth. Anxious to be with people who love her, the household, her parents and her siblings are a shock, and the complete opposite of her tranquil, ordered, and quiet home at Mansfield Park. Sister Susan shows some interest in improving herself and gives Fanny some hope. Edmund is more in love with Mary than ever, visiting her in London. Fanny dreads the post, fearful of what news it will bring. 

Musings 

After Fanny’s rejection of Henry’s offer of marriage, I am amazed at what lengths everyone takes to change her indifference to him. No one honors her decision and proceed to create excuses why she declined. Sir Thomas encourages Henry to continue his pursuit, which he does relentlessly, even though she shows him no encouragement at all. Having always won a ladies heart, he is both invigorated by her rejection and certain he will succeed. (conceited lout) Sir Thomas increases the pressure by telling his wife Lady Bertram and her sister Mrs. Norris of Henry’s proposal. They have opposite reactions; Lady Bertram thinks it an honor to her family to attract such a wealthy and handsome suitor, and Mrs. Norris takes it as an insult to her niece Julia who they all wanted Henry to marry from the beginning. 

Angry she (Mrs. Norris) was: bitterly angry; but she was more angry with Fanny for having received such an offer than for refusing it. It was an injury and affront to Julia, who ought to have been Mr. Crawford’s choice; and, independently of that, she disliked Fanny, because she had neglected her; and she would have grudged such an elevation to one whom she had been always trying to depress. The Narrator, Chapter 33 

I has stunned and disappointed in Edmund’s part in the interrogations, working away at his friend Fanny on behalf of his father. His actions hurt her the most since he was her mentor and only friend at Mansfield Park up until Mary Crawford corrupted him. All of his conversation now is tainted by her influence. When Edmund insists that he knows the truth of the rejection based on her surprise alone, I am angry at his arrogance and appalled that he suggests she should now let Henry succeed, and show everyone that she is the “perfect model of a woman which I have always believed you born for” Outrageous attitude from any friend, let alone a minister of the church. Where have his principles gone? I admire Fanny’s tenacity. She knows her mind and her own temperament. She explains that she and Henry are too different in nature to be happy together and does not waver from her position. Edmund, more than anyone in her circle should honor her wish to marry for love alone since his heart is also strongly inclined to the same desire, even though he has struggled against the unsuitability of his attachment to Mary Crawford for almost the entire novel! 

On his (Edmund) side the inclination was stronger, on hers less equivocal. His objections, the scruples of his integrity, seemed all done away, nobody could tell how; and the doubts and hesitations of her ambition were equally got over-and equally without apparent reason. It could only be imputed to increasing attachment. His good and her bad feelings yielded to love, and such love must unite them. The Narrator, Chapter 37 

The final wedge in an attempt to break Fanny’s spirit is Sir Thomas’ banishment of her to Portsmouth. His private plan is to let her see the difference that a good income can mean to her comfort, and motivate her to accept Henry Crawford with all his gentility and wealth. At first she sees it as a refuge from the pressures at Mansfield, and a benefit to be with family who truly love her, but after being reunited she soon discovers the disparity of the two households. Her parents, her siblings and their impoverished lifestyle are a quite a shock to a young lady who has become accustomed to living in the home of a Baronet. The noise, squalor and the indifference of her parents to her cruelly remind her of the peace, tranquility and order at her home, Mansfield Park. William departs for sea, and with no friend left in the world to support her, she is truly alone. Fearful of the pending news from London of Edmund and Mary’s engagement she waits for the other shoe to drop. Even under these adverse circumstances, our heroine is still optimistic. 

Fanny soon became more disposed to admire the natural light of the mind which could so early distinguish justly, than to censure severely the faults of conduct to which it led. The Narrator, Chapter 40 

With so much romantic turmoil in these last eight chapters, I am more than a bit uneasy with the uncertainty. Austen is building to a climax and I am all anticipation. We shall see if everyone ends up with who they love, or don’t know they love, and who gets their comeuppance. I have never known her to cheat us out of a wedding or two at the end, or a bit of moralizing for those unruly characters who stirred up the plot. One can never be certain though until the curtain falls on this theatrical.   

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library

Cast of characters

Chapter 33-40 summary

Chapter 33-40 quotes and quips 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 12 Give-away 

Leave a comment to by August 30 qualify for the free drawing on August 31 for one copy of.

Mansfield Park: Oxford World’s Classics

Oxford University Press (2008). Revised edition. Novel text and introduction and notes by Jane Stabler. Trade paperback, 418 pages, ISBN 978-0199535538 

Upcoming posts
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48
Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: The Scoop! What People Are Saying

Mansfield Park: Fun with Fanny and Friends: Day 11 Give-away!

Here’s a little humor to brighten your Monday morning Janeites! 

Can you describe your life in six words or less? That was the question that Smith Magazine asked their online readers in 2006. What developed was an amazing array of comic, tragic and poignant mini life stories that are now available in the book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. 

Originally inspired by an incident in writer Ernest Hemmingway’s life, he was challenged to write a story in six words or less. He responsed 

‘For Sale: baby shoes, never worn,’ 

proving that the imagination can run with half dozen words creating a whole life story. This amazing collection of a “thousand glimpses of humanity-six words at a time.” is both contagious and addictive. Here are a few of my favorites 

Read romances. Met a man. Disappointed! 

Girlfriend is pregnant, my husband said. 

Most successful accomplishments based on spite. 

No wife. No kids. No problems. 

Aging late bloomer yearns for do-over. 

Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that. 

Still lost on road less traveled. 

The Mansfield Park Six Word Review Challenge 

This creative and clever concept can be applied to almost anything we have an opinion on. So, the challenge that I am putting forward today is for Janeites to write a six word review of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen’s oft maligned and misunderstood novel! 

You can write about anything in the plot or characters that inspires you; humorous, tragic or snarky. I have written a few of my own to start you off. The most striking, funny or poignant reviews will be selected and announced in the Mansfield Park Madness roundup and deconstruction on August 31. Good luck! 

Be kind, because Fanny did mind. 

Resistance is futile. Surrender Fanny! 

The grey pony died. Fanny survived. 

Fanny Price. What becomes insipid most. 

What happens in Mansfield Park? 

Edmund Bertram sermonized. Henry Crawford womanized! 

Fanny Bashers conference in East room. 

Fanny Price? Wasn’t she on Broadway? 

Pug. Fanny Price’s Fairy Dogmother. 

Did Jane Austen write Mansfield Park? 

Poor Fanny. Rich cousins. Integrity wins. 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 11 Give-away!

Leave a comment by August 30th to qualify for the drawing on August 31st for one

 

Jane Austen Address book, by Potter Style

Paperback, with alphabetical tabs. Image of Regency lady and Jane Austen portrait on the front. 120 pages, ISBN: 978-0307352385 

Upcoming posts
Day 12 – Aug 26          MP novel discussion chapters 33-40
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48
Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings

Mansfield Park (1999) Movie: Musing & Discussion: Day 10 Give-away!

 

MOVIES

Take a controversial classic novel, mix in a liberal filmmaker’s re-interpretation, add in slavery, lesbianism and incest and presto! you have Mansfield Park (1999), writer-director Patricia Rozema’s provocative adaptation of Jane Austen complex novel. I don’t think that I am exaggerating when I estimate that Janeites find this one a bit puzzling. So did critics. It has spawned a rash of conversation since it premiered in 1999. Just Google it and you get 28,000 hits! The reviews where mixed and run hot or cold; no gray area anywhere for this film. Here are a few of the choice opinions.

 Mansfield Park manor house

“Stifled and tedious adaptation of an Austen classic strips the heroine of her usual power of perception and tongue.” CinemaSense 

“Rozema’s point is that Mansfield Park, and the amorous escapades of its wealthy inhabitants, are founded on and sustained by this debased form of exploitation. This is certainly an intriguing opening-out of the novel, but in doing so the film appropriates the moral high ground in a way that further distances it from the delicacy and ambiguity of Austen’s insights.” Andy Richards, BFI 

“what the film represents is the marketing of a new ‘Jane Austen’ to a post-feminist audience now receptive to its reinvention of the novel” John Wiltshire, Recreating Jane Austen (2001) 

“In the hands of a less talented filmmaker, this extensive tinkering and modernizing might seem irritating and pretentious. But in peering beneath Austen’s genteel surfaces and scraping away the Hollywood gloss that traditionally accrues to screen adaptations of Austen, Ms. Rozema has made a film whose satiric bite is sharper than that of the usual high-toned romantic costume drama.” Stephen Holden, New York Times 

“By breaking the seal, Rozema has freed costume drama from the shackles of tradition, exposing its naked flesh. The window that Thompson unsnibbed has been flung wide. Fresh air tastes good.” Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye for Film 

“an audacious and perceptive cinematic evocation of Jane Austen’s distinctively sharp yet forgiving vision” Claudia L. Johnson, Austen scholar

Fanny Price (Frances O’Connor) & Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) riding together 

When Rozema was originally offered the opportunity to direct Mansfield Park she declined stating the script was boring and the heroine annoying. She then proceeded to re-write the script by perking up Fanny Price, adding a political and sexual subtext that Jane Austen would never have broached, and fixing the broken storyline (in her opinion) by working in Jane Austen’s juvenilia stories and personal letters. The results are a thought provoking jumble of reinvention and dalliance that had never been attempted with a Jane Austen adaptation before.

 A bored Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola), and a flirtatious Maria Bertram
(Victoira Hamilton) & Mr. Rushworth (Hugh Bonneville)

Austen’s novel seriously contemplates the controversial 19th-century theme of ‘improvement’ of the estate and social values. Writer-director Rozema has overtly taken it yet a step further renovating and expanding the plot and characters so much so that subtly sardonic Jane Austen might have been a bit alarmed at the liberties.

Edmund Bertram & Fanny Price discuss the Ball

Our heroine Fanny Price, energetically portrayed by Frances O’Connor, has morphed from the shy and oppressed glorified servant into an exuberant outspoken aspiring writer – what Rozema visualizes Jane Austen had been! Oh my! Fanny’s mentor, friend and love interest Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) is now a romantic, more a Byronic hero that the Bronte’s would have approved of than a pious and clueless minister in training.

Henry Crawford visits Fanny Price in Portsmouth 

The Crawford siblings (Embeth Davidtz & Alessandro Nivola) are as wicked as ever, which suits Rozema’s purpose totally as they are pushed further with lesbianism and seduction. The greatest liberty is taken in the slave trade subtext as we are shown graphic illustrations of the atrocities of slavery that the character Tom Bertram (James Purefoy) witnessed at his father Sir Thomas’ (Harold Pinter) plantation in Antigua. Even though slavery is only alluded to in the novel, this stab brings Rozema’s vision of the injustice of ill-gotten-gains sharply to view. Other notable British actors playing out this theatrical are; Lindsay Duncan (Lady Bertram/Mrs. Price), Victoria Hamilton (Maria Bertram), Hugh Bonneville (Mr. Rushworth) and Justine Waddell (Julia Bertram).

 Henry & Mary Crawford entertain their new spouses
who look more intriged with each other!

If taken as a whole this film does work on the level of art for film making’s sake. Visually it is stunning, the costumes fabulous and the music joyful. I do find it fascinating that people are still debating its merits after almost ten years. If anything, it has stimulated thought and closer reflection on what Jane Austen is about, and how she is interpreted. As a Janeite, I find watching it so distracting. If readers of the novel want to yell at Fanny Price for being so passive, then in turn I want to yell at Rozema’s Fanny for being SO vivacious. This is not Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, but it is a worthy amusement all-the-same.

A happy ending for Fanny & Edmund 

Further reading & viewing 

“It could have turned out differently, I suppose. But it didn’t.” Fanny Price
 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 10 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30 to qualify for a free drawing on August 31 for one copy of

 

Mansfield Park (1999)

Written and directed by Patricia Rozema. Major motion picture, 112 minutes. Staring Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price, Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram and Embeth Davidtz as Mary Crawford 

Upcoming posts
Day 11 – Aug 25          MP Fun with Fanny & Friends
Day 12 – Aug 26          MP novel discussion chapters 33-40
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48