Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

9781587265402-usFiction — print. Borders Classics, 2008. Originally published 1814. 384 pgs. Purchased.

At Mansfield Park, the estate owned by Sir Thomas Bertram, his four children grow to marrying age along with their poorer cousin Fanny Price. All have been brought up to observe social proprieties but not necessarily moral ones. When Sir Thomas leaves to see after some business interests, the deficiencies in his children’s upbringing reveal themselves and chaos ensues. Only Fanny stands firm and the girl once see as peripheral by the Mansfield Park household comes to be seen as its ethical center.

Is it odd that this story reminded me of the classic fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare”? Everyone in Franny’s life is consumed with reaching for the next ring on the social ladder, with getting instant gratification. Yet Franny – meek and quiet Franny — just keeps living her life waiting for her own vindication. Waiting might not be the best word yet I don’t know another word to use here for Franny’s situation.

This is the last of Austen’s major works that I had yet to read. Telling you that I wasn’t actively avoiding this novel would be a lie. I don’t have a concrete reason why my fingers skipped over it every time I went to my bookshelf for another read other that I possibly had some bad information about the quality of this novel. I can’t remember who told me this, but I’ve always had it in my mind that Mansfield Park is worst of Austen’s novels. Worst isn’t the best word as I’ve enjoyed everything by Austen that I’ve read so far — it’s just not my favorite.

The book starts out well enough; I always find the “adoption” for poorer relations to be an interesting phenomenon. It just felt like Austen was writing for a specific audience, that she was trying to prove she could write a moralistic tale for younger readers.

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