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Mansfield Park
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on June 13, 2014
So I just wanted to let others know that this collection is one giant book of all Austen novels combined. You can't tell from the picture, but I was actually expecting (and hoping for) individual books packed in one box like other book collections I have. So I was definitely a bit disappointed when I received this book. And while I am used to reading large books like David McCullough biographies, this compilation is by far the heaviest I have in my possession. I'm not sure I will be able to read this in bed or even hold it up in my arms for any long period of time. So beware. I would have chosen differently if had this information when I was contemplating purchase.
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319 helpful votes
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on November 6, 2017
This review system is messed up: I am reviewing the Unabridged version on CD, narrated by Flo Gibson. Mansfield Park, as with all Austen, is brilliant. A bit over-long, but much like a television series, it is intended more for the journey than the destination. While Austen's works are "period pieces" about the manners of certain parts of English society at the time, you will find that they work because much of what she observes is timeless human behavior. You will find people and situations you know from your own experience.
Unfortunately, Flo Gibson is entirely the wrong person to narrate this book. Ms. Gibson is a wonderful narrator, but by this point in her career she had lost her vocal control and delivers everything in a quavery tone much like Katherine Hepburn toward the end of her career. For some books that would be fine, but when the majority of the characters enacted are under 30 years of age it simply distracts. Just a very very poor choice of narrator.
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VINE VOICEon September 13, 2016
A lot of water under the bridge since first reading this book many years ago. I do not know why I liked it so much them...possibly I was blinded by adolescents and want everyone to have a loving mate and played match maker myself thinking also I was above others..shame on me!! This book the second time around was so frustrating I could have screamed in parts. How dare Emma feel so superior in her small town and looked for others to make over in her image. How dare she play match maker with every eligible bachelor and made in the area thinking she knew best. Was she a true friend visiting all the families and offering her solicitations as if she were the queen and it being a big gift to shower her presence with others (all of whom she felt were inferior) on a regular basis.

Glad to have revisited this book and will revisit others but don't think they will be by Jane Austen. My book was downloaded onto my Kindle from Amazon.
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Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's earlier works. While not the best, it's still worth a read. The book is filled with a series of one-liners, sarcasm, and predictability. I understand this book is satire and in no way shape or form am I saying this should be compared to P&P. They are both great works in their own right. I'm just not a huge fan of satire. This rough around the edges book is still a must read for all book lovers.

Character development is on par with other Austen novels. In fact, you will notice many similarities between this cast of characters and other Austen novels. Not that it's a bad thing if it ain't broke don't fix it.
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on June 4, 2014
This is one of those books where it's hard to really say anything in a review because it's a classic. Clearly, it's a good book. I randomly stumbled on most of Jane Austen's novels being free for the Kindle, and spontaneously decided that I was going to try and read them all this summer. Emma was the first one I picked up. I'd read Pride and Prejudice in middle school (and seen the Keira Knightley movie multiple times) and Sense and Sensibility in high school, and I was interested in seeing how I would feel about Jane Austen now.

I ended up enjoying Emma just as I had the other two Jane Austen books that I read. There is a shallowness to her books, which is something that only becomes clearer to me as I get older, but the books are also very aware of their shallowness, which is what makes it enjoyable to me. The books are great at examining the culture they are set in, and I find that culture both fascinating and frustrating at times. The frustration in Emma definitely came through for me in the way that Emma focused on people's class. She is very clear at the beginning of the novel that if Harriet marries someone of a certain status, they will never be able to be friends again. As someone coming from a different time, such an outlook really angered me, even though I knew that it was realistic to the time period.

Honestly, even though that was a bit frustrating, I really did like Emma as a character. I'd read before that she was supposed to be unlikeable, and while I found her a bit irritating, I did care for her and want things to turn out the best for her. I think that was only helped by Mrs. Elton's presence later in the novel. While Emma and Mrs. Elton strike me as very similar in many way, Mrs. Elton was far more unlikeable to me, perhaps just because of the narration. At any rate, she made Emma a far more likeable character as far as I'm concerned, and I found myself sympathizing with Emma more and more as I read, even though there was never a point where I completely disliked her.

I did really enjoy this book, and it made me look forward to reading more of Jane Austen's novels this summer. While it's a bit on the shallow side, it's enjoyable, and I enjoy exploring what life was like for women of Emma's status in this time period. It's shallowness really indicates a lot about what women who were at least relatively well off were concerned with and what their lives were like, and I think that's what fascinates me the most about Austen's books.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 6, 2014
Jane Austen wrote "Northanger Abbey" when she was young, although it was not published until after her death. It is a broad parody of the Gothic Romances popular in her day. Its lead character, the innocent young Catherine Morland, is moderately attractive, good-hearted, and highly imaginative, but perhaps the least compelling of Austen's heroines. Nevertheless, Jane Austen's excellent writing gifts are on display in this short novel, which offers some superbly funny dialogue, witty commentary on social manners, and a sympathetic heroine.

Catherine is offered the opportunity to vacation in the resort town of Bath by family friends. In Bath, she falls in with people her own age, who will provide her with some hard lessons. Catherine also meets Henry and Elinor Tilney, an older brother and sister who introduce her to walks and intellectual discussion. Their father, the imposing General Tilney, invites Catherine to visit the family estate of Northanger Abbey. Catherine eagerly accepts the invitation, in part to stay close to Henry, and to see the ancient abbey, sure to be the embodiment of her cherished Gothic Romances.

Catherine's willingness to see dark secrets in ordinary events leads her on a search of the Abbey for clues to the suspected murder of General Tilney's wife, a search that will bring on a fateful confrontation with the General. Fortunately, fate will offer Catherine a second chance...

This isn't "Pride and Prejudice" or "Mansfield Park". "Northanger Abbey" is a fun book on its own terms, very much a Jane Austen product and likely to be enjoyed by her fans. It is highly recommended as an entertaining read.
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on April 25, 2015
It's Jane Austen, and she is a master for a reason. Her characters are classics, and you think about them long after the book is done. People have been thinking about the characters for over 200 years. Predictable, maybe, but her writing is so insightful and beautiful we've been quoting them for just as long. And the declarations of love are classics.

Colonel Brandon is the most unforgettable picture of unrequited love in literature. You ache for him, and sometimes you want to bash Marianne's head in for not seeing how much he loves her. That's great writing.
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on June 15, 2015
This is the first book I've read by this author; the Jane Austen theme notwithstanding, the book is good enough to interest me in reading more of Mr. McCall Smith's other books. This modern retelling of "Emma" is well-written, very funny, and overall enjoyable; the only down part is coming to the end of the story. I marked several passages as particularly fine. I especially liked the development of many of the characters in addition to Emma, like Mr. Woodhouse, Miss Taylor, George Knightley, Isabella, Frank Churchill, Miss Bates, and Harriet. McCall Smith's Emma seems more pointed and colder than the original, but no less capable or confident in her own intelligence and meddling for the good of others. I have to admit that I did enjoy it when Mr. Woodhouse told Emma off at one point. I marked "No sexual content," since intimacy was basically hinted at, or thought about/remembered by some of the characters as one might expect, but there wasn't anything I would consider explicit. In all, a great read!
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on August 15, 2014
Fanny Price is one of Austen's most sympathetic heroines. Pulled from poverty to become assistant to her penny-pinching aunt Norris in the estate of her richest, and most clueless relations, she is neverless befriended by her wealthy cousins, and becomes a tentative part of the household. If only her aunt Norris would stop reminding her of her "station in life," and her cousin Edmund would learn to close his mouth when the pretty, but unscrupulous neighbor girl comes to visit.

I recently reread this again - courtesy of a series of long airplane ride, and watched the two recent BBC adaptations because I like seeing how different playwrites and directors adapt classic works. I like the older, darker one better - the blond in the newer one pouts her way through every scene. Scene one - she is perturbed. Scene two - she is perturbed. Scene three - she is perturbed. You get the idea. In the older one, Fanny grows from being unsure of herself to a woman of confidence, as she should. Plus the excruciating interaction with Mrs. Norris reminds the audience of Fanny's uncertain role in the household again and again. Don't worry, everybody except the rake gets what they deserve eventually, even Mrs. Norris (after whom Filch's cat is named in the Harry Potter series).
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on March 30, 2015
I am enjoying the narrator immensely on this unabridged version. I hardly read any reviews on the people who bring these classic stories to life in reviews and it is puzzling to me. One unabridged version is identical to the other and who wants to read a review on the author if you are an Austen fan already. I appreciate a well modulated British accent that helps you follow the story and can changer her voice between the characters as Jane herself did not always make it clear who was speaking next. Some readers have a habit of reading to fast or dropping the volume of their voices at the end of a sentence making you hit the reverse button while you are driving. "What was that she said?" (Julie Christy for instance.) Frances paces here reading and speaks clearly and I appreciate that when I am driving. Professional readers rock.
But Ohhh, Would I love ti hear Alan Rickman's velvety voice read Jane Austen novels.....
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