Review: “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

Thumbs up for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Romance/Literature.

And then to the Austen that is the favorite of very few people indeed. I can see how this book goes down hard for a modern reader. If pious, careful Fanny were a contemporary woman, she would be a complete stick-in-the-mud. Here’s my advice for this one: treat it like science fiction. People in Regency England spoke English, yes, but they’re best thought of as aliens. Get an edition with good notes, or at least a useful forward, which can explain the context of why Fanny’s attitudes about say, amateur theatricals, are not mere primness-for-primness’s sake. I like her, indeed, as a character who is capable of feeling two or three conflicting things at once, and doing her best to do what’s right. And as for the ending: yes, Austen deserves a bit of a smack for her speed. But I’m still #TeamEdward. Crawford is a creep.

“That is the first question, you know,” said Miss Crawford, trying to appear gay and unconcerned, “which every woman who plays [an instrument] herself is sure to ask about another. But it is very foolish to ask questions about any young ladies—about any three sisters just grown up; for one knows, without being told, exactly what they are: all very accomplished and pleasing, and one very pretty. There is a beauty in every family; it is a regular thing. Two play on the pianoforte, and one on the harp; and all sing, or would sing if they were taught, or sing all the better for not being taught; or something like it.”

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