Customer Reviews

12
Mansfield Park
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$10.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Fanny Price, a timid and gentle nine year old, is uprooted from her impoverished home in Portsmouth to live with her wealthy relations in Northampton. Of them all, only righteous Cousin Edmund has any idea of her loneliness amidst the splendours of Mansfield Park and he sets out to befriend her. His kindness has the inevitable result and Fanny grows evermore attached to him as she grows into her subservient position in the household.

As she reached young adulthood, Sir Thomas is called over to the West Indies to investigate problems on the plantation which is the source of the family's riches and at this point Dr and Mrs Grantley (the clergyman who has the local living) introduce Mrs Grantley's sister and brother to the neighbourhood. Mary and Henry Crawford are irreverent, socially sophisticated and captivatingly good company. Edmund falls in love with the unsuitable Mary and Henry causes havoc with the hearts of the Bertram sisters, Julia and Maria. Fanny watches with a stern and judgemental eye.

This is a wonderful book - full of grotesques : the horrid, mean, bullying Aunt Norris, Lady Bertram who never has the energy to move off her sofa or Sir Thomas Bertram, full of rectitude but unable to see how his parenting is stunting the growth of his daughters.

We see more of the dark side of early nineteenth century life than is usual in Jane Austen's novels - Sir Thomas's association with the slave trade, the shocking poverty of Fanny's family in Portsmouth (her description of the milk which is served there ("motes floating in blue liquid") seems to sum up the whole ill-managed and depressing household or the seaman who is brutally whipped on one of William Price's ships.

Fanny may not be a heroine the reader can fall in love with but she is the heroine of a multi-layered book which can be read again and again.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on June 19, 2015
This is a surprisingly frivolous book, given that it's a major work by an acclaimed author. I was surprised at its repetitiveness, its mostly stale humor and its hurried ending that wraps up everything too neatly. It's certainly not a bad book, but I found myself trudging through sections of it, feeling that I was reading the same things over and over again: a drawing room scene, a walk on the grounds; an unrequited lover bemoaning his or her fate. I'm guessing that it was popular fiction in its day, and like popular fiction in any era, it has limitations.

The story line revolves around Fanny, a poor relation taken in by her ultra-wealthy aunt, Lady Bertram. Lady Bertram lives on the estate Mansfield Park with her husband, a member of Parliament who is a distant and utterly proper gentleman. The family has two daughters (beautiful and spoiled) and two sons (one a playboy, one planning to become a minister). Fanny arrives at age 10, and she spends the next 7 years being intimidated by all in the family except minister-to-be Edmund, who befriends her out of pity and then learns to respect and love her stable, thoughtful character.

By the time Fanny reaches 18, she's become a beauty like her older step-sisters. She's still terribly shy and intimidated, but nonetheless attracts the attention of Henry, another playboy who is living with relatives at the nearby luxurious parsonage. Fanny does not return Henry's affections, as she has fallen in love with her cousin Edmund. There are twists and turns, as one of Fanny's stepsisters marries a stupid but very wealthy man with whom Henry has been flirting shamelessly both before and after her engagement. Also, Fanny becomes friendly with Henry's sister Mary, though fully aware that Mary can't be trusted. Edmund, meanwhile, falls in love with Mary, even while recognizing her faults, as he thinks he can cure them with his goodness.

All this spins out in the very sleepy British countryside, where the same half-dozen people meet for dinner each night and then sit around playing cards and trying to be charming and polite. Jane Austen does a good job of conveying the mood in those parlours and drawing rooms, and there's some witty dialogue and repartee. But the scenes are repeated over and over, and you wonder how anyone could stand the dullness. Frankly, you recognize why Fanny's stepsisters, as well as Mary and Henry, long for more :society" and activity in London. It's hard to feel that Fanny is really the person to identify with.

If the book is read as a sly satire about Fanny, who is smug in her own thoughts, then it does have added meaning. And I think that is part of the lesson, especially when Fanny goes back to her birth family for a three-week visit at age 18 and chafes at the noise, dirt and lousy food. But Fanny is too virtuous to be angry; she's just uncomfortable and embarrassed.

In the end, things wrap up neatly. Sir Thomas of Mansfield Park shows that he has a heart after all. Those who flout society's conventions get their comeuppance. The prodigal son matures. The incredibly annoying Aunt Norris finally moves to another country instead of infesting Mansfield Park with her jealousy. And Fanny and Edmund live happily ever after.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Mansfield Park, one of Austen's later novels, though not popular with all, perfectly satisfies me as another of Jane Austen's wonderfully written stories. Here is a summary of the plot, with a word of warning: I have left nothing out, it will spoil all surprises.

Fanny Price, ten years old, timid and lonely, has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, at their extensive estate, Mansfield Park. Her cousins ignore her, and Lady Bertram's sister, her aunt Norris, never fails to remind her that she is "The lowest and the last". Only Edmund, her older cousin, is kind and attentive.

Eight years later, Sir Thomas and his eldest son go abroad on business, and when the son Tom returns early, he brings a friend, Mr. Yates along. Shortly after this, Maria Bertram becomes engaged to a Mr. Rushworth. Mr. Yates has a passion for acting, and persuades the Bertrams and the newly arrived Crawfords to put on and act in a play at Mansfield Park. Edmund and Fanny disapprove of the scheme, and also the play of their choice, Lovers Vows; however, the aspiring performers refuse to give it up, regardless of the impropriety of their actions. Shortly before the final rehearsal, Sir Thomas returns and puts an end to any future attempts at their play.

Edmund is captivated by Mary Crawford, and any romantic feelings between him and Fanny seem now hopeless. Also, Fanny has a new, albeit unwelcome, admirer in Henry Crawford. When asked by him for her hand in marriage, she firmly refuses, but Crawford is not one to give up easily. When she goes to visit her family in Portsmouth, he follows, and tries to ingratiate himself with her, to no avail. Fanny is eager to be back home at Mansfield when her two month visit merges into three; however, the letter she receives, instead of inviting her back, informs her that Maria, now Mrs. Rushworth and living in London, had left her husband for Mr. Crawford, and the two had fled. Latter, Edmund writes that his sister Julia had eloped with Mr. Yates, and they had gone to Scotland.

Soon after, Fanny returns to Mansfield Park, and Edmund, disappointed in the lax manner that Mary Crawford treats her brother's infamy, has broken ties with her forever. Mrs. Norris, not wanting to be separated from her still dear Maria, relocates from Mansfield, to everyone's mutual satisfaction. Edmund realizes how important Fanny has become to him, and they are soon united in marriage.

Many have criticized this book as not being as good as Austen's other works, and though the heroine may not have the same traits of the others, that shouldn't make the story any less enjoyable.

Some complain that Fanny is "priggish" or "too timid" or "not human enough". Personally, I do not see Fanny as priggish, only very upright in all her doings. True, she is timid, but she rises above that and by the end of the book, seems much more outspoken. I really don't see how Fanny could be deemed not human enough, she seems very human to me; perhaps it is because she refuses to lower her moral standards that she is termed such; to me, this only raised my opinion of her.

Mansfield Park is now one of my favorite books by Jane Austen, why it has not enjoyed as much popularity as her other novels is beyond me. Hope you enjoy it!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on January 20, 2013
Modern critics want us to think that Mansfield Park was Jane Austen's chance to go beyond being the author of well-constructed romances by going all moral guerilla on imperialism and the slave trade, and she blew it.

Austen wrote what she knew and stayed in her comfort zone. Instead of a blistering diatribe, she gives meek little Fanny Price--and indignation on every page. Fanny is not in chains, but enslaved none the less. Her life is taken away from her.

At age 10 she's taken from her parents and siblings to Mansfield Park. Her aunt and uncle Bertram will take on the expense of her upbringing and raise her with their own children. Fanny gets a beautiful home, her own (unheated) bedroom, nice clothes, rich food and the best education an Englishwoman could hope for. In return she has no friends, possessions or autonomy. She must do everything she's told, be always acquiescent and grateful, wait on her exquisitely inert Aunt Bertram and thank Aunt Norris for her insults. She's considered beneath the value of firewood and isn't even given credit for being pretty! Someone else did it for her. When she dares to display independence she's shipped back to her impoverished family in Portsmouth to teach her a lesson. (The phrase "Sold down the river," comes to mind. Mark Twain uses it in Pudd'nhead Wilson (Dover Thrift Editions) to mean "put to hard labor as a field slave." Fanny's trouble is nothing compared to that).

Mansfield Park is about sexual imperialism and the enslavement of women.

The luxurious and languid lifestyle at Mansfield is supported by slave-raised sugar. This fact is raised exactly once and instantly dropped. That 75% of the Bertram children are morally bankrupt Austen ascribes to bad parenting.

Fanny is one of many examples in the Austen canon of women whose lives are not their own: Anne Elliot (Persuasion), Jane Fairfax (Emma (by Jane Austen)), all 4 Dashwood women (Sense and Sensibility (Dover Thrift Editions)). Not to mention Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas) (Pride and Prejudice) who lands a pompous boob for a husband and has to spend the rest of life sucking up to insufferable Lady Catherine DeBurgh.

Marriage, dear reader, was the only career for gentlewomen. The dread of failure to make a match is the subtext to all Austen's works.
It's not loneliness these young women fear-- To be a lady with no husband (or son) meant destitution. This fear is ever-present and palpable in all Austen's novels. It is even in Emma. Although Miss Woodhouse doesn't have any worries, the fate of the unmarried has its starkest example there in the characters of shabby genteel Mrs. Bates and her too too chatty spinster daughter.

One of the few times Fanny Price shows gumption is when she talks on the stress of finding a husband. In addition to making a match there's the pressure of making a good one; that is finding a man who will respect and like you as well as keep you. Imagine gambling your whole life's happiness on a few weeks acquaintance? A woman was expected to be grateful to any man who shows attention and jump at any marriage proposal. A proper English lady goes from one master to the next (father to husband) without a peep and with tears of joy.

Fanny Price's life on bondage is infinitely superior to slave labor. IN many ways she's better off that she would have been with the Prices--her home-bound sister, Susan, has no outlets for her natural talents. Austen points out the contradictions in Fanny's situation to acknowledge her and her culture's dividuality on issues that are black-and-white to us.

You can read Jane Austen for entertainment and escape. She is an outstanding writer. But when you understand the context of her times--the imperialism she lived under, the role she was enslaved to--you understand why she is a supreme artist. She converted a frightening reality into wondrous novels. From could, rough straw she spins gold, bright, lively and joyous.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on December 4, 2012
A psychologically-intricate exploration of the power of sexual attraction. Fanny Price has barely enough integrity to keep her attraction to cousin Edmund under wraps; Edmund, meanwhile, is so utterly transformed by his desire for Miss Crawford that he pretty much pimps Fanny out to Miss Crawford's licentious brother.

Austen's bleakest work, Mansfield Park is a meditation on both the demonic power of sexual desire, and the fragility of any morality that simultaneously celebrates physical beauty AND tries to regulate the bewitching effects that beauty has upon all of us.

And if you're paying attention, you won't be fooled by the all's-right-with-the-world, David Lynch-like ending, either. Indeed, the center does not hold...
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on May 3, 2014
Mansfield Park is the name of an 18th century estate in Great Britain where a young girl is sent to live with some relatives, away from her poor family. As usual, Austen’s use of the language is pleasurable. Even though low key to modern readers, and, as usual, the plot involves the jockeying around of single people with the ultimate goal being matrimony, the be-all and and-all of women in that era. Unlike the other Austen novels, though, the main character is as plain as soda crackers and just as appealing. It is all the other characters in the book who have . . . character.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
Yes, I know Jane Austen is a great writer -- I thoroughly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, and cheer when writers like C. S. Lewis and Elizabeth Kantor wax poetic about what an insightful writer Jane is. No, I don't have a problem with her moralisms, I'm an unrepentent moralist myself.

And yes, flashes of that genius do appear in this book. (And I did enjoy the movie.)

But I'm sorry, I found this book tedious to listen to.

First of all, the heroine is too mousy. The slightest excersion taxes her endurance, which the "good" characters coddle beyond patience. I'm tempted to tell her, "Leave your corner room in your upper class mansion and try planting rice in the Guangxi fields for a few years. Come back tanned, muscled, and beyond all danger of fainting at a mile walk through the woods." Call it tough love.

Second, wasn't Adam given some work to do in the Garden of Eden? All these balls, petty dramas, endless conversations about nothing that real, give the term "chick flick" a bad name. Sure there are some great observations about human foibles (which I may look up and underline some time), the characters are subtle and finely drawn -- but I don't find myself liking any of them very much, even the supposed heroes.

You had me at Pride and Prejudice. Now I think I'll fall back on Skyfall.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on April 19, 2013
Have many Jane Austen books...needed this for my collection..The book was a little big...but loved the read! Was shipped and recieved in good time.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on December 26, 2013
Too wordy, but good characterizations. The characters are like many we see today. Our book club gave it a mixed review.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on July 31, 2014
A good reprint of this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics)
Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (Paperback - April 29, 2003)
$8.89

Northanger Abbey (Dover Thrift Editions)
Northanger Abbey (Dover Thrift Editions) by Jane Austen (Paperback - October 3, 2000)
$3.50

Pride and Prejudice (Dover Thrift Editions)
Pride and Prejudice (Dover Thrift Editions) by Jane Austen (Paperback - April 12, 1995)
$2.30
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.