Many associate Jane Austen with lively, witty heroines and the joys that come from the triumph of charm and humour over stupidity and formality. That's why so many consider Mansfield Park an abberation, a miserable moralistic tale that is only enlivened by funny caricatures and some entertaining episodes. I disagree with this view. In this book, Jane Austen is showing us that while humour and personality can animate and delight us, there are other things that should not be overlooked. Things like love, respect and integrity. And when Fanny "wins" in the end, I am glad for her. She has been true to what she believes, and while she would probably be as much fun to be with as a pile of paving slabs, she did well to keep her head, "when all about [her] were losing theirs." It goes without saying that the book is a masterpiece, and not one word of it is wasted. It is bursting with incisive - if not cheeky - observations of the strange workings of society (then AND now), and we are allowed many laughs at the expense of all of the characters. Don't be dismayed by this story, or become one of those who likes to "pretend" that Mary Crawford is the real heroine of the book because she is prettier and funnier and sometimes kind. She's a nasty piece of work. Trust the author about this one; she knew what she was writing, and she knew that life just doesn't turn out to be "Pride and Prejudice" for everyone.