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Mansfield Parsonage Paperback – January 26, 2017
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"This book captures Austen's voice with a fascinating point of view." - Maria Grace, Author of "Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen's World" "Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen's most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you'll be wondering why the original wasn't written from her perspective all along. This is Regency Era at its finest. Mansfield Parsonage, a true source of felicity!" - Adrienne Dillard, Author of "Cor Rotto"
About the Author
Kyra Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep - nearly obsessive - love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen's work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing. You can visit her website at kyrackramer.com to learn more about her life and work.
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THankfully, Kramer has remedied that with her brilliant take on a supporting character from the original novel. Her prose blends seamlessly with passages of actual Austen, with all the elegance and a welcome touch of knowing narration. Her novel focuses on Mary Crawford, the vivacious and bold neighbor who was a perfect contrast for the dishwater-and-platitudes Fanny in Park. In Parsonage, we follow a character much more realistic and entertaining. Her excellent education is evident in her dialogue, in which Kramer--without being pedantic--gives us a glimpse into the dominant culture and intellectual ideals of Austen's time as illustrated by Mary's nimble and intelligent discourse. Her banter with her brother, the equally brash Henry, reveals so much about them.
Mary is worth the read, for her character alone. Although the storyline itself is an energetic and period-accurate coming of age story brilliant in its own right--I'm there for Mary Crawford.
Mansfield Parsonage is fabulous from the first page. Regency England is gorgeously rendered with rich detail and a vibrantly drawn cast. Author Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen's most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you'll be wondering why the original wasn't written from her perspective all along. Even more impressive is how Kramer deftly weaves in the politics of the time; heavy topics, such as slavery and poverty, are expertly navigated. We never lose sight of these struggles through the view of characters who live in relative pastoral comfort.
This is Regency Era at its finest. As Miss Crawford would say, Mansfield Parsonage is a true source of felicity!
“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.” George Carlin
Town vs country:
“Pride, envy, avarice – these are the sparks [that] have set on fire the hearts of all men.” Dante Alighieri
This was a tough read for me. It was deep introspection as I journeyed into motivations and thoughts of Mary Crawford and her brother. In Austen’s MP, they were not exactly my favorite characters. I saw them as wolves entering the society of sheep. Ton wise and world weary, the Crawford siblings entered the pastoral, country lifestyle of Mansfield Park. They had arrived possessing a hunting pack mentality. Rife with the maneuvering precision of a guided missile as they traversed the best salon gatherings [gossip mill] within the drawing rooms of the ton elite.
Upbringing vs influence:
“I’m the result of upbringing, class, race, gender, social prejudices, and economics. So I’m a victim again. A result.” James Hillman
Every action, interaction, motive, and opinion had been honed by familial influence and ton sensibilities. To think of it another way would be to say the Crawfords were on one plane and Mansfield Park was on another. There was no way this was going to end well. Their thinking was so at opposite ends of the spectrum that they were in another universe.
“I make no bones about it, I’m a product of my upbringing and of the time I was brought up, so I’m not going to pretend not to be.” David Davis
After the death of their parents, both Mary and Henry lived in the home of their uncle the Admiral. Henry was the favorite of the Admiral, while Mary was the favorite of her aunt. The uncle and aunt had a different perspective on upbringing, influence and their opposing viewpoints on the marriage state. The siblings had daily examples set before them of emotional abuses and control… but from different perspectives.
After her aunt died, and the Admiral brought his mistress into his home, Mary fled the affront to the memory of her aunt. Thus, the two siblings converged on the unsuspecting denizens of Mansfield Park, when Henry escorted Mary to the home of their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Dr. Grant had the living of Mansfield Park and they lived in the parsonage that was within walking distance of the Bertram family manor.
“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” Denis Waitley
The Bertram children had been brought up to think very highly of themselves and meanly of others [especially Fanny]. Their home life revolved around an indolent mother and a distanced father, who ruled his family with a firm hand. No one noticed that the children were being unduly influenced by their Aunt Norris, who was vain and supercilious. It would be too late before it would be realized.
The Bertrams at Mansfield Park were the head family in the community in fortune and consequence and they lived a quiet life. Under Aunt Norris’ manipulative influence, Maria had entered a betrothal with a man of fortune and consequence, but with little sense and sensibility. That all changed with the arrival of the Crawfords.
“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell
Until you see, or experience otherwise, everything you know is at the height of your esteem and value. When faced with the beauty and comportment of the worldly Crawford siblings, Maria, Julia and even Edmund [much to Fanny’s distress] fell under their spell. Even Lady Bertram and Aunt Norris were influenced by their smooth demeanor and effusions. With the return of the eldest brother Tom, additional trouble arrived in the form of his particular friend the Honorable Mr. Yates. Tom Bertram refused to listened to reason, sound advice or counsel from Edmund, his younger brother. It was all a disaster in the making.
“There’s nothing so unattractive as vanity… particularly male vanity.” Rafe Spall
Vanity… this quote slaps the males in this story up-side the head. Yep, all were vane and self-centered in their emotions, feelings, opinions and justifications for their actions.
Tom… in his ‘know it all… I’m the heir’ attitude, just may have sealed the fate of his sisters.
Had Maria Bertram never met Henry Crawford, would she …? Probably… only with someone else. She was a disaster waiting to happen.
Had Edmund never met Mary Crawford, would he …? Unknown, perhaps he would have seen Fanny earlier and realized that she was perfect for him. Did he actually think he could have someone of Mary Crawford’s stamp? Did he ever, even for a second, imagine that Mary Crawford would make a terrible parson’s wife? She kept telling him she didn’t like parsons. He had ears, but wouldn’t hear.
Edmund and Mary had created an illusion of perfection that no one could possibly live up to. Edmund thought Mary was one way and Mary thought Edmund was another. When their realities crashed and burned at the altar of scandal… both were taken by surprise that they had been completely taken in with their emotions.
If Henry Crawford had never met Maria, would he …? Let’s get real, Henry Crawford was a man whore... plain and simple. He loved to have women fall in love with him. To even suggest that he didn’t believe they truly loved him and that he didn’t have a trail of broken hearts across the breath of England was just stupid on his part. He loved to flirt and make women love him. Had Fanny fallen at his feel, he would have broken her heart and walked away with a smug smile on his face… the bastard. As it was… she was a challenge that he couldn’t resist. Because she saw him for the vain peacock that he was, she didn’t believe a word he had to say. It all meant nothing. He simply could not understand.
I think we get the picture. However, if you dig a hole and then fall into it… how is that someone else’s fault? Henry Crawford was [as he purported himself to be] in love with Fanny Price. She was his ideal of perfection and the answer to all his requirements for matrimony. His vanity did not let him think any other way. Even Mary lived in the illusion that Fanny Price was perfect for Henry and loved her like a sister. Anyone with eyes could see that this was wrong, Wrong, WRONG from the get go. Mary and Henry were creating their own version of paradise and Fanny and Edmund were held high in that reality.
“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.” George Eliot
Looking back, I’m sure Henry and Mary have regrets… love lost and lost forever. This variation was so deep with the parts of the story we didn’t get in canon. It filled in the gaps of time when Mary and Henry left Mansfield and went to London where it all fell apart.
Most recent customer reviews
In order to fully appreciate this book, I re-read Mansfield Park for the second time after many years.Read more