Mansfield Park is the fourth Jane Austen book that I’ve read so far. I love it! One of my favourite books ever!! How ironic that my two favourite Jane Austen novels are Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, her least popular and most disliked books, respectively. I can see how someone could dislike Mansfield Park, it is darker than Austen’s other books and perhaps at some times depressing. But the characters are so wonderful, and the storyline in my opinion, very interesting, I could not put it down! I was addicted, even when I was not reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Fanny and Edmund and Henry and all the other characters. They seemed so real, and I felt that Fanny and I had a lot in common. For instance, we’re both shy and don’t talk much (I’m generally not much of a talker, but sometimes I can talk like crazy. Especially when I’m tired. Then I talk, and chatter, and giggle- nope, you don’t want to be around me when I’m tired! But I’m getting carried away. Back to topic.) And Fanny considers herself “grave” and while I wouldn’t describe myself as such, I often don’t succeed in being funny, even if I try. . . She’s a stark contrast to Emma Woodhouse, for example, who is quite popular (that’s not the right word but what I mean is sociable) but Fanny isn’t unsociable, she just doesn’t make friends as easily. So in those respects I can identify with her. But first I should explain the story.
Fanny Price lives with her rich uncle and aunt, and four cousins: selfish Tom, kind and considerate Edmund, vain Maria, and the youngest Julia. The story begins when Fanny is about 10 years old and she comes to live with her realtions because her family is so poor, and homesick and lonely, she is miserable most of the time. But when 16-year old Edmund shows compassion for his little cousin, they grow closer and closer, becoming very close friends and confidantes over the course of 8 years. Then Fanny falls in love with her gentle, caring cousin, but his affections are directed towards someone else. [*Warning: SPOILERS!] The” Someone Else’s” brother, Henry Crawford, flirtatious and full of worldliness and vanity, makes up his mind to make Fanny fall in love with him, but she remains strong and refuses to be decieved as she has seen others fall for his attentions and then left heartbroken. Henry ends up falling in love with Fanny himself, but she continues to refuse him, because she loves Edmund. Just as Henry is beginning to acquire gentleness and more kindness during his pursuit of Fanny, he does a terrible thing that will cost him the loss of any chance of Fanny ever returning his affections.[*End of Spoilers]
Oh, Henry Crawford. . .how could you??? So charming and determined in the pursuit of the only woman he thinks could ever make him happy, Fanny, he was, in my opinion, impossible to dislike, particularly when he comes to visit her in Portsmouth where she is staying with her family. It was one of my favourite parts of the book! Fanny, pining for Mansfield and all the friends she has there, is at first startled at Henry’s appearance at her doorstep, but soon begins to notice how much his manners have improved. Now, if only he had taken her advice and gone to (well, I forget the name of the place, but it was somewhere where he was to help the poor or something) perhaps he would have gotten her to love him after all! Arghhhh!!
I fell in love with Edmund when he was so kind to Fanny when she was homesick, at the start of her life in Mansfield. He seemed so human, not as dashing and romantic as Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley, but the sort of character I’d be most likely to meet in real life. He is so nice to Fanny, but it is extremely aggravating when he doesn’t have the sense enough to fall in love with her. And then at the end, when she tells him she’s loved him the whole time. . . Edmund!!
The first three quarters of the book were absolutely delightful, but near the end was when it got a bit depressing. But of course, there’s a Happily Ever After for Fanny and Edmund- perhaps not so much for several of the other characters. I thought there should have been more with Fanny and Edmund at the very end, when he tells her he loves her, IMO, the scene was a bit too short and could have used spme more dialogue. Still, the book is definitely something worth reading and thinking about. Personally, I loved it and I am so extremely happy to have read it!