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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Mansfield Park sequel without Fanny Price?
When a book written twenty five years ago is reissued as confidently as Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment by a publisher who specializes in Jane Austen sequels, you hope that it is laudable. Of all of the past sequels to select, (and there are more than a few), why choose one based on Jane Austen's least popular novel Mansfield Park? What has the new...
Published on 24 July 2009 by Laurel Ann

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not another Austen sequel?
Not another Austen sequel was my reaction to this but then I realised that this was a reissue of a book published some time ago by Joan Aiken.

I have an old copy of this book which I remember reading and not much caring for, but this time around I really enjoyed it. I can only think that back in 1985, the original publication date, I had not learned to love...
Published on 11 Nov 2008 by Elaine Simpson-long


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not another Austen sequel?, 11 Nov 2008
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Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment (Paperback)
Not another Austen sequel was my reaction to this but then I realised that this was a reissue of a book published some time ago by Joan Aiken.

I have an old copy of this book which I remember reading and not much caring for, but this time around I really enjoyed it. I can only think that back in 1985, the original publication date, I had not learned to love Mansfield Park as much as I do now. I found Fanny Price acutely irritating and always felt that I wanted to give Edmund a kick up the backside (as I also used to do with Marianne Dashwood), I thought the novel was somewhat lacking and rather tedious and had it down as one of my least favourite Austens. Well, since then I have totally changed my mind. I think it is a wonderful book and the more I read it, the more I like it. Ok, yes I can see that Fanny is still probably too good to be true for a modern reader and can at times appear priggish, but she is essentially a good person who sticks to her principles through thick and thin and ultimately gets her just reward.

In this sequel, Sir Thomas has died and his elder son is now the baronet at Mansfield Park. Attention is needed to the property in Antigua and as it was felt that the climate out there would not be good for Tom, whose health has never been fully the same since his illness, Edmund and Fanny embark on the voyage thus removing them neatly from the scene and leaving the way clear for the reader to concentrate on Susan, Fanny's younger sister who came to live at Mansfield at the end of the Austen novel. She is much more fearless than Fanny, less shy and nervous and has made her mark at Mansfield and settled in well. Out of the blue a letter arrives from Mary Crawford, who has been unhappily married, is now ill and who wishes to come and stay in the environs of Mansfield Park for the summer to convalesce. This letter is, of course, addressed to Fanny but arrives after she has gone and it is with some trepidation that Susan goes to meet this notorious and fascinating person and gradually falls under her spell as do all who meet with her, including Tom.

Mansfield Park Revisited is really a rehabilitation of the Crawfords. I, personally, always liked the Crawfords and, while the reader notes Mary's shallowness and her lack of proper thinking on certain matters, her charm and vivacity maker her most attractive not only to Edmund, but to the reader. Her most likeable aspect was her support of Fanny and how she very much disliked Aunt Norris's attitude and treatment of someone she viewed as an interloper. She appreciates Fanny more and more and, in turn, so does Henry who professes to love her. There was a time when reading Mansfield Park that I felt it would have been a good idea to have Fanny marry Henry Crawford and I do sometimes wonder if Jane Austen felt the same. In Revisited we learn that the gossip of him persuading Maria to leave her husband and run away with him was spread by her when he turned her down and he was more sinned against than sinning.

Mary is seriously ill and is not going to get better and her last summer is spent at Mansfield where she forms a close friendship with Susan, makes Tom fall in love with her a little, in order she says to make him behave better when the right woman for him comes along ("My art, like the potter's guiding hand, has transformed Tom into something more approaching a useful domestic vessel; some female unknown to me will, in future, have cause to thank me though by that time I shall be long forgotten"), leaves what little she has to Susan so that she will not be wholly dependent on the Bertrams and generally makes the reader fall in love with her too. Henry appears to be a loving brother with excellent qualities which only now come to the fore and by the end of this sequel the Crawfords had proved themselves to be much nicer characters than we have been led to believe.

I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read Mansfield Park Revisited. Joan Aiken avoids the main trap of any Austen sequel or prequel in over egging the style of writing and speech which make some of this genre so difficult to swallow, and I found the fascination of this story all over again. It has now made me feel that I would like to revisit Mansfield Park myself. In the end, I found myself liking Mary Crawford enormously and feeling for her as her illness drew to its inevitable conclusion.

A lovely book and one that I found I could not put down and really wanted to finish even though I knew the ending, always a sign of an enjoyable and absorbing read. And the ending? Well, it is a happy one despite Mary Crawford's demise and proves just how well the transplanted Fanny and Susan Price have settled in Mansfield. I won't say any more....

Joan Aiken has not stopped at Mansfield Park. She is the author of Emma Watson (which completes the fragment of The Watsons), Eliza's Daughter a sequel to Sense and Sensibility, and Jane Fairfax, a companion read to Emma. I am not sure these are still in print, my copies have been on my shelves for some years, but they are worth keeping an eye out for and reading. Joan Aiken wrote these sequels and companion reads to Austen long before the Firth Factor made everyone an Austen fanatic and before the explosion of all Austen related literature and, in my opinion, they are among the best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic Mansfield Park sequel without Fanny Price?, 24 July 2009
This review is from: Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment (Paperback)
When a book written twenty five years ago is reissued as confidently as Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment by a publisher who specializes in Jane Austen sequels, you hope that it is laudable. Of all of the past sequels to select, (and there are more than a few), why choose one based on Jane Austen's least popular novel Mansfield Park? What has the new author created to make this sequel worthy of resurrection?

Published in 1814, Mansfield Park was Jane Austen's third novel and even though I adore it, it has more than its share of nay sayers. There are several reasons why it is a disappointment (to some), but primary objections fall to its heroine Fanny Price, who some feel is weak and insipid and not at all like Austen's other popular heroine's. Author Joan Aiken's solution in her continuation of Mansfield Park is to resume the story four years after the conclusion and to remove Fanny Price almost entirely from the novel by packing her and her husband Edmund Bertram off to Antigua in the first chapter. Fanny's younger sister Susan Price has been brought to the forefront, stepping into Fanny's previous role as poor relation elevated to companion to Lady Bertram now a widow after Sir Thomas Bertram's unexpected death while attending to his business in the West Indies. Susan has matured into an attractive and bright young woman similar to her older sister, but with more spunk, which will please Fanny opponents. Susan holds her own against her cousins the new Sir Thomas Bertram who often thinks she over steps her position and his sister Julia, now the Honorable Mrs. Yates who resides in the neighborhood and upon Susan's back, objecting to her every move. We are also reintroduced to other characters from the original novel: cousin Maria Bertram the scandalous divorcee, Mary Crawford estranged from her feckless fop of a husband and now gravely ill, and her brother Henry Crawford still a bachelor having never found anyone as worthy as his last love, Fanny Price. Aiken also adds a delightful array of new secondary characters to the mix supplying interest and humor.

A quick read at 201 pages, Aiken moves the story briskly along with a series of challenging events and resolutions that keep the reader engaged, but sadly never resting to discover personalities or relationships in greater detail. At the conclusion I felt more than a bit deprived of a good love story as Susan comes to the conclusion of whom she truly loves on the last few pages. This style not only mirrors Jane Austen's approach with her hero and heroine's romance in Mansfield Park, but amplifies one of the main objections to the original novel. Despite this flaw, Aiken is by far one of the most talented writers to attempt an Austen sequel and Mansfield Park Revisited truly worthy of resurrection. She has respectfully continued Austen's story by expanding her characters, adapting the language for the modern reader, accurately including the social mantle and believably turning our concerns for the two main antagonists Mary and Henry Crawford at the end of Mansfield Park into sympathies, which given their principles and past bad behavior is quite an accomplishment. Packing Austen's heroine Fanny Price off to another country might seem extreme, but it is sure to please the Fanny bashers and allowed Aiken to develop her own heroine Susan who has enough spirit and resolve for the both of them.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
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Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment
Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment by Joan Aiken (Paperback - Oct 2008)
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