Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Blurb

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighborhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

My Perspective

I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve now read all of Jane Austen’s major novels, Mansfield Park being the last one. I’m a pretty huge Jane Austen fan so i think it’s only proper that i am acquainted with all of her works!

Mansfield Park follows the early life of Fanny Price, who at a young age is sent to live at Mansfield Park with her wealthy uncle, aunt and cousins, as an act of charity towards her larger, poorer family. Fanny is extremely shy and quiet however she soon adapts with the support of her elder cousin, Edmund. However with the arrival of the Crawford’s into the neighbourhood, much drama and scandal ensues with Fanny’s heart caught in the middle.

The story is well written with plenty of rich descriptions and character development. It is slower paced with a definite slow build up of tension and climax.

I’m not sure what i thought of Fanny. In some ways i really liked her, however her frail temperament really irritated me. I appreciated how reserved and thoughtful she was, especially in comparison with the other female characters. Most of the other characters annoyed me or i was indifferent towards. I really wanted to love Edmund however i could only just like him (and half the time i thought he was an idiot for being so blind). To be honest i was a little disappointed in the characters. It wasn’t that they weren’t well written – i just couldn’t grab hold of them and endear them like the characters in most of Jane’s other novels.

I also found the story ended very quickly and a bit oddly – it was wrapped up like an epilogue. I found this surprising because the novel itself was quite slow paced and nothing happened quickly.

Overall it was still a great novel, the intricacies of English society well explored. I would probably say it’s my least favourite Jane Austen novel though so if you’re going to start reading Jane Austen, maybe don’t start with this one.

 

 

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A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard

A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. SouthardBlurb

All her heroines find love in the end—but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years—did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us—to a greater or lesser degree—are head over heels for Jane.

My Perspective

We bought this book for my Mum for her birthday last year. I found out about it from Christoph Fischer on his blog. You can read about it here. After my Mum had read it, she lent it to me and I just finally got around to reading it!

The story is a fictionalised version of Jane Austen’s life written in an almost tongue in cheek style.

Like I mentioned in my first ever post on this blog, Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James, writing about Jane Austen and/or her works can be a big risk. I think that this book does Jane Austen a lot more justice than Death Comes To Pemberley did.

When I first started reading this, I do admit that I did have my defences up and I didn’t really like the way the author portrayed Jane. However after awhile I let it go and I was able to absorb myself into the story.

The story was well written and the author has definitely done his research as the general basis of the story was true and aligned with the facts we know of Jane Austen’s life. It was interesting to see how he fleshed out what we don’t know – some of you may love it and others may hate it.

As I mentioned, at first I didn’t like Jane however she had a huge turning point where she really grew and I quite liked her from that point. She isn’t really how I picture Jane Austen however I enjoyed reading about the authors interpretation of what she was like.

I liked how the author intertwined all of Jane’s novels into the story – making you see how she came up with the experiences for her novels (obviously this is fictional however it was still interesting). I also enjoyed the one liners throughout that are actual quotes from Jane’s novels.

It was a lengthy book and there were some parts I felt dragged and other parts where I could hardly turn the pages fast enough. It also felt slightly modern so I’m not sure what the kind of feel the author was wanting to go for.

Overall I enjoyed the book for what it was and I would recommend it to any one who likes fictionalised retellings of Jane Austen’s life and/or her novels.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane AustenBlurb

Written at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Persuasion is a tale of love, heartache and the determination of one woman as she strives to reignite a lost love. Anne Elliot is persuaded by her friends and family to reject a marriage proposal from Captain Wentworth because he lacks in fortune and rank. More than seven years later, when he returns home from the Navy, Anne realises she still has strong feelings for him, but Wentworth only appears to have eyes for a friend of Anne’s. 

My Perspective

As i mentioned in my review of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, after visiting The Jane Austen Centre in Bath when we were traveling through the UK, I had an urge to start reading all of her novels.

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot. Having been persuaded to break off her engagement at 19 to Mr Wentworth, she is now 27 and no man has ever been able to replace him. Having left on bitter terms, he vowing never to forgive her, it has been eight years since they last met. However through family circumstance, their worlds soon collide once more.

Having watched the newest version of “Persuasion”, I already knew the general gist of the storyline. This did not take away from the story though as the book is a lot richer in detail.

It was well written in true Jane Austen style. For those not used to older novels, it was a little slow to start off with however that is the style of the time and I still found it interesting. You are given a lot of back story and information and it helps to give a greater depth to the story.

I loved Anne. She was sweet, good natured and steady. I also really liked Wentworth. The other characters were equal mixtures of frustrating, loveable, loathsome and charming.

I found that the ending fell a little flat. There was quite a bit of drama and suspense throughout the book and the ending didn’t seem to match.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it to those who like period fiction.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane AustenBlurb

In Northanger Abbey, a young woman’s penchant for sensational Gothic novels leads to misunderstandings in the matters of the heart. Austen’s first, this is considered by many to be among her most charming novels.

My Perspective

After visiting The Jane Austen Centre in Bath when we were traveling through the UK, I had an urge to start reading all of her novels. I’ve read the more popular ones: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma already, however I hadn’t read Northanger Abbey nor Persuasion. As both of these are set in Bath, I wanted to read them almost immediately! I started with the one that was written first, Northanger Abbey.

Northanger Abbey is about Catherine Morland, the eldest daughter of a clergyman. She is invited to travel to Bath with a childless couple she is family friends with in the village. Rather naive and innocent, her visit introduces to her both friendship and love as well as lies and betrayal.

If you’re not used to older novels, then the wordiness may probably get to you. I however, find it does not lose my interest at all.

The beginning took you almost straight into the story and it was a page turner from then onwards. Most of the time I could not turn the page fast enough in knowing what would happen next.

The characters were brilliantly written and you went from love to hate to outrage and everything in between. There were parts where I could have throttled some of the characters and I was in dread of what they would do next.

I really enjoyed the book and I love Jane Austen and her writing style. Her books always please. I wouldn’t say this was my favourite of her novels, I much prefer Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility – I found this wasn’t as well written as either of those – however it is shorter and was quite a quick read.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book however not as Jane Austen’s best – it is however, still amazing as Jane Austen is a brilliant author!

Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James

What does one write for their first post? I think i will start with the book i read for my best friend, Death Comes To Pemberley by P. D. James.

For Christmas last year, my best friend was given the book, Death Comes To Pemberley. We both love Jane Austen and anything Jane Austen related, however she was hesitant to read it in case it ruined the reputation of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. I offered to read it for her and as she is my best friend, i would know if she would love it or hate it.

I read it and decided to give her a book review on HeyTell, an iPhone app. I didn’t realise though that you can only record small messages and then after two messages it won’t let you record anymore because i had filled her inbox (great). I tend to ramble so after about a gazillion HeyTells and only being half way through my review i thought, maybe i should dedicate my first post to her. So best friend, this is for you.

Blurb

The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the Pemberley nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live within seventeen miles, the ordered and secure life of Pemberley seems unassailable, and Elizabeth’s happiness in her marriage is complete. But their peace is threatened and old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled on the eve of the annual autumn ball. The Darcys and their guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland, and as it pulls up, Lydia Wickham, an uninvited guest, tumbles out, screaming that her husband has been murdered.

In a pitch-perfect recreation of the world of Pride and Prejudice, P.D. James elegantly fuses her lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen with her talent for writing detective fiction. She weaves a compelling story, combining a sensitive insight into the happy but threatened marriage of the Darcys and the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted detective story. DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY enshrines the qualities her readers have come to expect: psychological and emotional richness of characterisation, vivid evocation of place, and a credible and superbly structured plot, in a powerful and distinguished work of fiction.

My Perspective

If you have never read Pride and Prejudice, or any Jane Austen novel for that matter, you would find this book a classic ‘Whodunit?’ crime novel. Reading it from this perspective the first half of the book was really quite interesting, taking you on twists and turns, guessing and second guessing who the murderer was. However the second half of the book started to become, how do i put it? “Days of Our Lives”. The story becomes more and more dramatic and even a bit ridiculous with explanations of situations similar of that to a soap opera e.g. long lost twins are reunited and one of them is actually the father of the child of the milkmaid who he had an affair with who is actually his cousin and next in line for the throne (that’s not actually what happens in the book but you get my drift). So if that’s your cup of tea, i am sure you will love it.

If you are an avid Jane Austen fan like my best friend and i, and you practically know Pride and Prejudice off by heart, then i think you might throw this book down in disgust crying “Sacrilege!”. The beginning starts off well enough, reuniting with your favourite characters and learning what they have been up to in the past six years (according to the new author). The character of Elizabeth is quite familiar and true to Jane Austen however i found as i read more that this was probably only because Pride and Prejudice was mainly written from Elizabeth’s point of view so the author had plenty of depth to write from. However the other characters, such as Mr Darcy, the author had to build upon their characters and i feel that the way she portrays Mr Darcy is quite weak. To me, Mr Darcy is a very strong character. Yes, he has feelings and moments of weakness but in the book i start to find him quite boring and wimpy, constantly doubting himself. I’m not sure if this was the angle the author was going for, to see a new side of Mr Darcy and how Elizabeth is his strength etc. but if that is so, i don’t think it was done very well. I think the blurb, “DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY enshrines the qualities her readers have come to expect: psychological and emotional richness of characterisation” is a bit exaggerated. If you aren’t offended by the author’s portrayal of Jane Austen’s characters, then by the end you probably will be. As i said above, the way it starts to unfold is worse than Days of Our Lives.

I think subconsciously after not being happy with some of the portrayals of the different characters i started reading the book from the perspective of it being just another crime novel and i just knew the characters and their histories extremely well. And from that point of view i enjoyed it. Except for the last part of the book. Obviously there is nothing wrong with soap operas if that’s what you like or if that was the intent of the book, “Pride and Prejudice: The Soap Opera”. The thing is, i don’t think that is was what it was meant to be and not at all what you expect from the first half of the book (especially after the description of the novel from the blurb – “a credible and superbly structured plot, in a powerful and distinguished work of fiction”).

So best friend, to be honest i think you would be one of those throwing this book down in disgust crying “Sacrilege!”. For others out there, you might be the same or the complete opposite.

“That chapter is definitely – closed” – Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, 1940)