Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Mansfield Park

Some argue that Fanny Price is the least likable of Austen's heroines. I can see how people might think this. She is a little preachy and annoying at times, but I still felt I found a connection with Fanny. Mansfield Park is about a girl who is separated from her family to grow up with her wealthy aunt and uncle. She is never treated like family. It is constantly acknowledged that she is separate from her cousins. One of her four cousins, Edmund, does treat her kindly. This of course makes Fanny like him which later grows into a romantic interest. Another man takes in interest in Fanny however, and much to Fanny's dislike. His name is Henry Crawford and he goes from trying to win Fanny's interest to becoming a bit desperate for her love. Fanny stays away from him because she has seen his actions toward other women, even though it upsets everyone around her that she is not interested.

Throughout the book I felt like Fanny was really struggling with what everyone wanted her to do and what she herself wanted to do. She is about eighteen in this book and I felt like her experience was really similar to most eighteen-year-old girls in today's world. Everyone is telling her what to do but she always sticks with what she wants. I really liked that about Fanny, and I feel like she is heroine for today's world. It's easy to give in, but you don't have to.

This novel also offers from very interesting views of the clergy at the time since that is Edmund's chosen profession. He is constantly arguing for the merit of the profession and I found this quote particularly interesting:

It is impossible that your own observation can have given you much knowledge of the clergy. You can have been personally acquainted with very few of a set of men you condemn so conclusively. You are speaking what you have been told at your uncle's table.

Okay so this quote isn't that interesting about the actual clergy, but I do think it's interesting in relationship to Fanny's moral questions (as well as another good lesson for all of us). This quote alone really make me like Edmund even though he is kind of saying it for his own favor. It is true that we make a great deal of our "observations" based on what other people say about them. If someone says a sandwich isn't good I'm not compelled to go try it myself, I choose to stay away from it. So, I liked this book. But my suggestion would be that if you haven't read most of Austen's other works to wait on this one. I haven't read Emma or Persuasion yet and I wish I would have tackled one of them before this one.

This novel earns a C.

Pub. Date: April 2003 (1814)
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Paperback, 480 pp

This is my first book for the Jane Austen Challenge.

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Mansfield Park + TIME