Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Published: 1st July 1814
Genres: Romance, Classic, Fiction Pages: 488
Start Date: 7th July 2022
Finish Date: 1st September 2022
Taken from the poverty of her parents' home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle's absence in Antigua, the Crawford's arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.
The reason it took me so long to read is because of the old english within the book, it takes me a while to read a page which makes me easily distracted.
Within Mansfield Park there are characterisations so delicate and actions of importance utterly unassuming. Some seem meaningless in their modesty. Excellent work by a diligent author. Dangerous pitfalls for the casual reader.
The whole novel overall moves along steadily with a dim flash of excitement here or a trying time there, never altering much above or below its middling pace. That's not a ringing endorsement, but nor is it condemnation. No, this is condemnation...
There is too much time taken up in mundane description: the planning of a play that never comes off, for one. Oh yes, certainly the play held importance in that it provided Austen a stage to showcase her principal players. But could that not have been accomplished with another scene, one that drives the narrative with more force?
Fanny Price, our heroine is too prudish to warm up to, and the main object of her - I'd say "desire," but that's putting it far stronger than Austen did - is a man setting himself up for a parson's life. They are both a couple of moral, goodie-two-shoes and you long for some mild vice to surface and show them to be human.
Heroes and villains appear on the scene too obviously. Hovering halos and black hats are almost more than imaginary. Some 'gray area' is introduced in the main "villain," but it's slight and see-through. Intentionally so? Yes, but it could've been handled with more art and the skill Austen showed she possessed in other works.
The end is wrapped up all too quickly and with criminal simplicity tantamount to saying, "I don't like her after all, I like you, so let's get married!" An end which left this reader shrugging his shoulders at a pleasant enough diversion that he'd wished had more pride or even sensibility.