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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It'sJane Austen, but not as we know it.
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...
Published on 26 May 2003 by Elizabeth Doyle

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, poor e-book
One of my favourite of the Austen novels. Fanny improves each time on further reading and one grows to love her. She does not deserve to win Henry. He will forever remain a charmer and will not stay faithful to one. My quibble is not with this wonderful writing but with my downloaded version which starts chapter 23 and suddenly jumps to chapter 26. All continuity is...
Published on 3 April 2011 by MarleneHemmes


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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant -the most misunderstood book of all time, 20 July 2000
By 
Raina (Vienna, Austria) - See all my reviews
first of all, there are three basic opinions about Mansfield Park:
1 it is boring
2 it is not funny
3 the story is thinn and the characters are artificial
needless to say, in my humble opinion the three points noted above are, to use a friendly word- crap.
First of all, only someone who is completely shallow would find this novel boring. the action is very subtle, maybe too subtle for some, and I for one was fascinated.The finely tuned conversations, the skillfully crafted episodes, the entire acting sequence are brilliant, and you have to be almost illiterate not to at least recognize the skill. I don't like Picasso, but I appreciate the talent.
secondly, Mansfield Park is of course not as obviously funny as Pride and Predjudice, but it is dripping with sarcasm and has many witty and downright funny side-characters like Mrs Norris and Mr Rushworth. Just look at the Crawfords who are really witty people, and you will see the humor, or maybe you need to be hit with a hammer to know when to laugh.
thirdly, the story is intricately weaved, wonderfully subtle, full of sex, intrigue, love, disaster, sickness, poverty and a play. so what's not to love, for those of you who need these things? of course, the ones for deep psychology and writing that feeds on moods rather than on action, you will have your fill, too. It goes without saying that a book like this could never act on shallow characters, and also not on artificial ones. Let's start with the most controversial of all, Fanny Price. She is neither stupid nor dull nor obnoxious, she is shy and vulnerable, and there are more Fanny Prices out there than Elizabeths and Emmas( much as we like them). Also, Fanny is in a quite unique situation, for she is dependant, so even if she wanted to speak her thoughts, she couldn't. She has never been encouraged to express an opinion, she has been told all her life that she is a burden, a worthless, awkward, unimportant nobody, how should she be celf-confident like Elizabeth, not to mention Emma. Now, about the others: Edward is a dear, and that's it, the Crawfords are so heavenly complex people that it's hard not to burst out laughing at the accusation of their being shallow and artificial, when in fact they are as lifelike as it gets in any work of fiction. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram are both classical gentry with nothing to do and no relation to reality. Unfortunately, they exist in scores. And who isn't personally acquainted with at least one Mrs Norris? I am. And who does not know Maria Bertrams? I do.
So, if you did not like the book, no one blames you. But acnowledge that not everything you find boring or bad is actually even one of both. Recognize the skills, even if it does not suit your personal taste.
And one other point: Some of the other reviewers actually abused Jane Austen's language. To those some words of advice:Oxford English Dictionary. Not everything you don't understand is bad. Get real. I'm not a native speaker, but not only do I understand her, but I marvel at her style, wit and vocabulary. Insulting Jane Austen's language is to say Albert Einstein was an excellent tax lawyer. Education is not neccessarily a naughty word. Not using only monosyllabic words might be too much for many people, but if that is the case, keep it to yourself, it does not do you credit.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Weakest of Austen's Novels, 29 Nov. 2011
Dull, dull, dull - this surely is the most tedious of Austen's books; loaded up with backplot instead of moving the story forward, characters wheeled on and off stage like wooden props, the central pair of star crossed lovers as wet as you could wish, and every opportunity to crank up the tension is fluffed or avoided. The writing is as accurate as ever (although there are only so many times in a chapter I want to read about solicitudes and felicities) but here lacking the sense of fun that Austen's best novels posses.

Basically, this is a Cinderella plot - Fanny Price aged 12 goes to live with her rich aunt and uncle Bertram at Mansfield Park. Everyone is beastly to her except for Sir Bertram's youngest son Edmund who inevitably she falls in love with. However, he is love with Mary Crawford whilst Mary's brother Henry is in love with Fanny. Henry and Mary are cads whilst Edmund and Fanny are prim to the point of dreariness. There are the two ugly sisters who come and go and both have a fling with Henry; there's a splendid wicked stepmother in the form of Fanny's other aunt Norris - who is the only amusing character in the book - but there in no one to play fairy godmother.

Austen makes all of her characters, except Fanny, rather ambiguous so that the ugly sisters are bad but not really nasty, Mary and Henry Crawford are a bit caddish but have some good in them. Edmund is mostly saintly but has a blind spot for Mary. Although in theory this should make the evolution of the plot more interesting instead it makes for blandness and whilst one wouldn't wish to convert Austen into Dickens a bit more colour would be welcome. Fanny as the central heroine is arguably a mistake as she is so uninteresting, a complete mouse who is unable to speak much of the time and whose emotional range runs from slight blush to deep blush. She's very nice but dull and the characters who aren't (so) dull are left on the side.

Another failure is that the various set pieces - Fanny being abandoned in the park, the embarrassment over the necklace chains for example - run into the sand and don't generate interaction between the characters that either heightens the tension or leads on to consequences. As a result they end up as little episodes that merely illustrate what the reader already knows.

Finally, but this was published in 1814 when the art of the novel was still being developed, the mechanics of the plot are very clunky. It takes ages to get the principal actors on stage; Edmund's older brother and Sir Bertram have to be disposed of for much of the action; Fanny is absent from Mansfield Park when the action comes to a head so that the plot (as so often with Austen) has to be unfolded through a series of letters (and here Austen gets into a muddle and has to invent reasons why characters don't know things they should know). Having gone at a snail's pace for 45 chapters Austen suddenly compresses all the action into the final three and promptly ties it all up with a bow and leaves.

Austen does explore the nature/nurture debate, and whether badun's can be redeemed but so does Hugo in Les Miserables and he doesn't miss out on plot or strong characterization.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A view of different worlds., 15 May 2014
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This review is from: Mansfield Park (Clothbound Classics) (Hardcover)
Out of all Jane Austen's novels Mansfield Park is perhaps the most historical in its references to the slave trade and Sir Thomas's sugar plantation in the West Indies. It also provides a variety of views of the society at that time; one view being the wealthy upper class Bertram family, another from the perspective of Fanny Price their poor relation from Portsmouth, and the third from the modern middle class Crawfords of London.
From the moment Fanny arrives to live at Mansfield Park all the Bertram family except Edmund make it very clear that they think her inferior because of her lack of wealth and education. As the years pass and her education surpasses that of her indulged cousins Maria and Julia nothing changes, and when the lively Henry and Mary Crawford come to visit they are made to feel more welcome than Fanny ever is.
Immediately the Crawfords set about attaching themselves to the Bertram family with Mary setting her sights on Edmund rather than the drunken playboy heir Tom, and Henry waists no time in flirting with the already engaged Maria. While the family seem bewitched by the Crawfords Fanny appears to be the only one to see their scheming behaviour, however even she becomes entangled in their web when Henry appears to fall in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage. She refuses based on his poor character and also because she loves Edmund, and this puts her in less favour with her uncle than before. Eventually the canker of the Crawfords is seen by all and Fanny is vindicated, and those who deserve what they get are rewarded by their fate. A lovely edition of a great classic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Saint Fanny, 24 Aug. 2013
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This is now my third Jane Austen-novel in a row, and it's without a doubt the one I have the most ambiguous feelings about. The culprit so to speak is the novel's heroine, Fanny Price. If fictional characters could be canonized, surely she would be first in line? She is (at times annoyingly so) the very embodiment of perfection in womanhood, or at least according to the standards of the early 19th century. Fanny is intelligent (without trying to be 'clever'), demure, empathic, shy, understanding, patient, soft-spoken (if and when she speaks at all), caring, and so on ad nauseam... Even the slightest glimmer of a less than perfect feeling (such as jealousy towards Mary Crawford) is enough to have Fanny scold and castigate herself for such unworthy feelings, there is not a thing she wants for herself or feels worthy of, and when her foster-father Sir Thomas arranges for a fire to be lit in Fanny's room she is close upon swooning with gratitude.

Is it perhaps a shade too much? Can such a woman exist and be credibly portrayed in a work of fiction? Or is much of my feeling in this regard due to the distance in time and morals since this novel was written? I'm not sure, what I do know for a fact is that Fanny did sometimes get on my nerves. Perversely perhaps, I found the 'bad' characters in the book ever so much more to my liking! Aunt Norris is surely the epitome of 'the malicious female relative', the only one I can think of that comes close is Mrs. Proudie in Trollope's Barsetshire-novels (it would be a feast if she and aunt Norris could have had tea together and discuss Fanny), and Mary Crawford herself I felt to be a more interesting character than Fanny, if only because she comes across as more credible if not likeable (at the very least she seems to belong to the human species).

I would have Fanny as my housekeeper any day of the week, but I'm not sure I would have her as a wife (provided she would have me for a husband, which I'm doubtful of, given Fanny's standards). Be that as it may, I would be no means suggest or advise not to read this novel! On the contrary, by all means do so to find out for yourself, and because it is despite the above (or precisely because of the above) a very fascinating novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked heroine, 4 May 2011
By 
S. L. Parkinson "Shayne Parkinson" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Mansfield Park seems to appear quite frequently on people's "least favourite Austen book" lists, but over the years I've come to think more and more highly of it. I've become very fond of timid, frail little Fanny, whose heart is a good deal warmer than those of the more flamboyant female characters. She's affectionate, loyal, and prepared to stick to what she feels to be right even though she suffers all the more for it because she's so powerless.

But Fanny is not a beguiling heroine to hang a whole novel on, and Austen does not attempt to. Mansfield Park is a rich and complex work, with ambiguous characters, plots within plots, and layers of symbolism that aren't what I usually associate with Jane. Her use of the play "Lovers' Vows" is sheer brilliance in what it shows us of the characters and their entwined relationships, even down to the fate of the performance itself. On a smaller scale, the game of "Speculation" does something similar.

Mary Crawford can be seen as a portrait of what Elizabeth Bennet might be if she had all the wit and liveliness we love, but without solid virtue at her core. Mrs Norris is, I think, Austen's nastiest female character (in the most familiar six novels, at least; I'm not counting Lady Susan). She makes Lady Catherine seem like a cuddly granny. Edmund is very silly for most of the book, but it's (mostly) convincing, and it's forgivable, because he gets there in the end. Henry Crawford plays the villain, but he had a very good chance of being the hero.

The editor of my edition says he considers Mansfield Park "one of the most profound novels of the nineteenth century", which is high praise indeed. I'll content myself with saying I like it very much.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Austen's most controversial novel., 6 Jan. 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
In this somewhat atypical Jane Austen novel, Austen abandons her precise characterization and carefully constructed plots, usually designed to illustrate specific ethical and social dilemmas, and presents a much broader, more complex picture of early nineteenth century life. Though the polite behavior of the middle and upper classes is always a focus of Austen, and this novel is no exception, she is more analytical of society as a whole here, casting a critical eye on moral issues which allow the upper class to perpetuate itself. Fanny Price, the main character, is the daughter of a genteel woman who married for love but soon found herself in poverty. When Fanny's aunt and uncle, the wealthy owners of Mansfield Park, invite Fanny alone, of all the children, to live with them, Fanny enters a new world, where she is educated, clothed, and housed, but always regarded as an "outsider."

Through Fanny's two cousins, Maria and Julia, Austen shows the complex interactions of the upper class as they negotiate marriages, try to maintain the family's reputation and wealth, and react to those "beneath" them socially. Fanny, having experienced both poverty and plenty, comments on what she sees, and though she lacks the witty charm of some of Austen's other characters (such as Elizabeth Bennett), she shows an intelligence and conscience lacking among her cousins. Only Edmund, the youngest of the Bertram sons, pays genuine attention to her, and her love for him is real, though secret.

This is a darker novel than Austen's others, showing conflicts between late eighteenth century rationalism and the growing romanticism of the nineteenth century. Sir Thomas maintains his wealth through his possible participation in the slave trade, a business in which a number of his contemporaries participated. Often unfeeling toward his own family, Sir Thomas also shows cruelty toward Fanny when she rejects a marriage he has negotiated for her to a man she does not love. Cousin Maria chooses to marry Rushworth for his fortune, but she succumbs to her passion for someone else, and introduces a romantic, new sexuality into the novel. Unfortunately, Fanny, though sweet and reasonable, is also quiet and predictable, while Edmund, the only other potentially empathetic character, is naïve and often appears to be weak. Austen's light touch and quiet humor, which make her other novels vibrate with life and come to a satisfying ending, are less obvious here, and the abrupt conclusion leaves many questions unanswered. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read and piece of work from Austen, 26 Oct. 2014
The character of Fanny is brilliantly put together with all the virtues we would hope for ourselves to be blessed with modesty, the ability to listen patiently and love fully. Despite others believing Mansfield inferior to Austen's alternative great works, the character building and sentiments are well expressed. The most dramatic activity occurred right at the denouement and the novel took some time to fold out but there was still not a moment to be bored. Rather gratifiying to find Mr Crawford getting his comuppance though. Great novel, worth reading.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shade & Light and the most interesting of her novels, 17 Feb. 2006
It's impossible for anyone not to love Pride and Prejudice and Emma. The light touch of Austen is at it's most adept in those novels and while the serious and tragic business of life is not far away, things are never allowed to become too awful.
In Mansfield Park, Austen was pushing her art and her ability into a new arena. She created in Fanny Price, a far more complex heroine, whose vulnerability and shyness is painfully clear and often irritating until you understand the appalling circumstances that she has been forced to live with since she was 10 years old. Living as a poor relation in a wealthy household must have been worse than being a servant and Fanny is never at ease, never among equals, always on parade and at everyone's beck and call. Only when she goes home to her natural family is she among equals only to discover that she has gotten used to a higher standard of living and that they aren't her equals any longer.
There is still a tremendous amount of toe-curling humour and wicked exasperation with the appalling Mrs. Norris. The romantic aspirations and faux pas of many of the characters is still there to entertain and exercise the mind but this time there is a deeper point being made. Austen must have been aware that the world was changing with the industrial revolution just around the corner and a faster, cruder way of life rising to the surface. Shallow, superficial ways of behaving were beginning to gain currency. The crueulty of playing with people's emotions in a dishonest and careless way is someting Austen is clearly targetting. Fanny and Edmund are flung around by this prevailing wind until they both regain their moral compasses. To some readers this is going to seem dull and pompous but if you take Fanny's state of mind as your starting point, her vulnerability and need for a safe haven you can understand their disapproval more easily.
In Mansfield Park, Austen clearly wants to show that society is on a collision course with itself if the 'anything goes' mode of living becomes the norm - a point of view that is still relevant today and that is what makes this Austen novel her most interesting and wide ranging in terms of ideas and debate about the human condition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Formatting not so great, 9 Sept. 2012
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The book itself is fine, it's a great book.

My only complaint is with its readability on Kindle. The biggest issue being that you can't skip through it by chapter, as it seems to be just the one (very long) chapter, which is a shame because when I re-read my favourite books, I like to be able to skip about and find (or skim over) certain passages. As it was, I ended up going back to my printed copy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mansfield Park, 4 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Mansfield Park (Clothbound Classics) (Hardcover)
Most of Austen's fans usually put this novel at the bottom of the pile thinking it boring and dreary and not worthy in comparison to her lighter, wittier novels full of beautiful heroines and dashing heroes. Not so!! This for me is one of my absolute favorites. Fanny Price is not a sweetheart, nor is she socially acceptable or graceful or accomplished in any of the required elements pertaining to that era. What she is, is resolute, determined and above all, willing to be the subservient companion to Lady Bertram and her pampered offspring. Here you have a young lady who is thrust into the midst of this family through no fault or choice of her own despite the fact she is actually a blood relative, destined to be at their beck and call for whatever tasks they throw her way and then, to be grateful for the privilege! I feel Mansfield Park is Ms Austen's masterpiece and she has created the perfect heroine for me, a strong, resilient and frankly, quite wise young lady who manages to shine above all her contempories despite her position and who, in the end, actually gets her man!! Now that's what I call a leading lady!
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Mansfield Park (Clothbound Classics)
Mansfield Park (Clothbound Classics) by Jane Austen (Hardcover - 3 Nov. 2011)
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