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.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this one and completing my Jane Austen reading, as this is the last of her six major works that I had left to read. However, it is also the one that left me feeling the most empty and let down, and became my least favourite as a result.
I was looking forward to the setting of Mansfield Park itself, and if I enjoyed two things about this book, one of those things was the setting. Austen does an amazing job of creating atmosphere around the locations in her books. However, I did want more setting. But what’s new, I wanted more of everything.
We have all a better guide in ourselves,
The second thing I couldn’t help but love about this book was the writing. Austen writes with a lot of wit, but this one was also very poetic and I loved some of the more lyrical phrases. But sadly, this is where my liking of the book ends.
Everything else just felt so flat and empty. I couldn’t engage with the characters. I didn’t like the romance – in fact, in a lot of ways the constant reminder that Fanny and her love interest were first cousins put me off. I know this is a book of it’s time, but it doesn’t stop it feeling a little gross now and highly unrelatable. Whereas with other Austen books I can pinpoint certain moments, scenes and memories, this one just feels blank and flat.
if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.
Despite this one falling so flat for me, I can’t help but still rate this one 3 stars because of the writing and the fact it’s an Austen. I also have to say I’m not sure how much of my dislike and boredom stemmed from the audiobook I listened to, as the narrator had a very flat and even tone. Hopefully it’ll be one I come back to in years to come and have a different opinion of the second time around!
3 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽