on 19 January 2012
Some of the reviewers here are plain wrong. There IS a Table of Contents. It can be accessed very easily by using the Kindle "Go To" function on the menu page. Clicking on titles listed in the contents takes you straight to your book. This seems to be standard for compilation e-books - for example, the Charles Dickens collection works the same way.
on 26 May 2003
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.
Jane Austen. Her name is practically synonymous with classic, understated romance, as well as comedies of manners with a subtle, sly sense of humor.
And Austen's "The Complete Novels" brings together the full complement of Austen's finished novels, from the little-known "Lady Susan" to the classic bestseller "Pride and Prejudice" (and everything in between). This collection is flled with lovably flawed heroines, beautiful formal prose, and some rather unconventional love stories.
"Pride and Prejudice" become a problem when Elizabeth Bennett takes a dislike to the handsome, aloof Mr. Darcy -- and her prejudice against him builds after he sabotages her sister's love match, and the charming Wickham drops some shocking claims about Darcy's nastiness. But the facts are very different -- and when scandal hits the Bennett family, Darcy may be their only hope. And "Sense and Sensibility" clash when the two very different Dashwood sisters, smart Elinor and romantic Marianne, both fall in love -- one with a man she can't have, and the other with a guy who may be horribly unsuitable.
Anne Elliott has a problem with "Persuasion," since she was once engaged to the impoverished sailor Frederick Wentworth, but was persuaded to break it off. Now he's returned from war as a wealthy hero... and Anne still loves him. "Mansfield Park" is the backdrop for shy Fanny's life with her rich relatives, who usually treat her as a servant -- except for her kindly cousin, Edmund. But when the flirtatious, fashionable Crawfords arrive in the neighborhood, it unbalances the lives of everyone at Mansfield Park.
And "Northanger Abbey" is a fitting location for Austen's spoof on gothic romances, in which the hyperimaginative Catherine Moreland is taken under the wing of the Tilney family, and especially handsome Henry -- and learns a lesson about the difference between fantasy and reality. "Emma" is a frothy romantic comedy about a rich, somewhat spoiled young lady who tries to arrange the lives of people around her so that everyone is happy. The problem is, life isn't that simple -- and neither is love. And as an addition to Austen's main body of work, this edition includes the novella "Lady Susan," who is sort of the evil sociopathic twin of Emma -- a brilliant and manipulative widow who seduces, plots and schemes. Yummy stuff.
The omnibus collection displays the range and depth of Austen's writing skill beautifully; though each story is very unique they're laced together by common themes. Except for "Lady Susan," each story is a love story, tempered with some clever commentary on the society of Austen's day (example: entailment, which plays a part in several plots), and a biting, sharp-edged wit (the mockery of the toadying Mr. Collins and the obnoxious Elliott family).
And despite the formal stuffiness of the time, Austen painted her stories vividly -- there's a bit of roughness in "Lady Susan" and "Persuasion," but nothing too dramatic. Each one has powerful emotions and vivid splashes of prose ("The wind roared round the house, and the rain beat against the windows"), as well as deliciously witty dialogue ("I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine"). But she also weaves in some intensely romantic moments as well ("Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you").
Austen also had an interesting range of heroines -- quiet ones, melodramatic ones, intelligent ones, naive ones, and mildly spoiled ones who think they know best. But each one has a major character flaw that must be overcome before she can find true love and happiness And she has an equally fascinating range of love interests: the quiet shy Colonel Brandon, the sexy and clever Henry Tilney, the blunt Mr. Knightley, the generous and honest Edmund, and especially the smart, sexy Mr. Darcy (who has a flaw of his own to overcome alongside Lizzie).
Jane Austen's "Complete Novels" draws together all her major finished novels, and let readers explore the mannered society and obstacle-filled love lives of her heroines.
on 17 August 2009
I adore audio books and always have one playing away in my car during my commute to work; -- so when I went hunting to purchase a new unabridged audio edition on CD of Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, I was quite surprised to learn that my choices were very few at exactly two; a Blackstone AudioBooks, Inc (2008) read by Johanna Ward and a Naxos AudioBooks (2007) read by Juliet Stevenson. My first choice was of course the Juliet Stevenson version, for what Janeite could ever forget her outrageous performance as Mrs. Elton in the 1996 movie adaptation of Emma? My abject apologies to Johanna Ward, who I am sure must be a very fine reader since she has several audio books to her credit, but the thought of listening to Mansfield Park read by Mrs. Elton just intrigued me and gave me the giggles. If anyone could liven up Mansfield Park, reputed to be Jane Austen's most complex and dark novel, she could!
Being a reader for an audio book is not an easy task since so many different `performances' are required to distinguish each of the characters for the listener. I have found through a course of trial and error that I enjoy audio books read by classically trained actors. Juliet Stevenson fills this qualification perfectly for me using every inch of her Royal Shakespearean Company training. Her understanding of Jane Austen's use of language and her true British accent added greatly to my enjoyment of this fine production.
Naxos AudioBooks has made quite a solid commitment to present quality productions of all of Jane Austen's six major novels in unabridged and abridged formats. You can read about all of their recordings on their excellent web site and listen to a PodCast of an interview of Juliet Stevenson as she discusses her involvement in the audio recordings and her affinity to Jane Austen. Of note is the free download for this month of Milton's L'Allegro read by Samantha Bond (Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park 1983 and Mrs. Weston in Emma 1996)
It has been said that Jane Austen often read her writings to her family as entertainments. Her beautiful use of language which just flows effortlessly is completely suited for the spoken word. When you add to perfection an accomplished actress with a keen sensitivity to Jane Austen's particular style, the results truly are remarkable.
Laurel Ann, Austenprose
on 28 May 2009
I have been looking for some time for a book which contained all of Austen's stunning work. My search has ended. This book is visually magnificent and has all 7 novels unaltered. It also is a fabulous price you could scarcely buy 1 novel for this money especially not one as visually dynamic. On arrival I was shocked at the size and thickness of this book when reading it in school my peers often mistake it for a bible! and in due fact it is thicker. Although it is a collosal book it is actually rather light and is easily transported without weraing the owner down. The content cannot be criticed and the writting is unlike other books of this kind as it is easily read. Overall I believe this to be a superb buy which I would recomend to anyone!
on 23 April 2009
This was a present for my youngest daughter, who is at University. She had always wanted to read the works of Jane Austen. So, I bought this complete works as it is very easy for a student to transport around and she can dip into it any time. She loves it and is now a great Austen fan.
on 8 May 2008
Just thought I'd mention that this item is not a set of individual books (as I had personally assumed), but instead it's actually one very large book containing all the stories in one, which wasn't what I personally had in mind..
It may have just been a silly mistake on my part but I don't think the synopsis is particularly clear so just thought I'd post a warning to others just in case you make the same assumption!
Still, the item itself is none-the-less lovely quality, just be aware :)
on 7 August 2000
I'm quite amazed at the absolute loathing Fanny Price awakens in so many readers - why do people despise the one truly virtuous character, describe her as weak, insipid, boring and all the rest, whereas Maria and Julia, snooty, self-absorbed, conceited bitches who consistently treat Fanny as a doormat, are deemed interesting? Why is virtue so suspicious to modern readers? Why do we prefer sparkling froth (Mary Crawford) to quiet depth (Fanny)? As reviewer Sartoruia states, Fanny has her reasons for being the way she is - quiet, shy, humble, sincere. Why do readers hate these qualities, why is there no empathy for Fanny after the way she has been treated? As for Fanny being weak - are these people crazy? Is it weak to resist the enormous pressure that Fanny was up against to marry Henry Crawford? To escape her position of dependency to become a highly respected woman of stature? What a wonderful revenge it would have been to all those who looked down at her previously: Maria, Julia, Mrs Norris! What freedom, at last! And yet Fanny resists: her love for Edmund is stronger. Is this weakness? She does not fall prey to Henry's Casanova charms, as so many society belles have done. Is this weakness? She sees through his character, recognises him for what he is - a frivolous womanizer. (How many modern-day so-called emancipated woman have fallen for such types! ) She has the strength to stand to her own opinions, and upholds her moral strength in spite of her lowly position. I call that admirable! That is genuine self-esteem, not the shallow self-infatuation readers seem to demand in a heroine.. She is not swayed by Henry's professions of eternal love - for someone who has never known a man's - or anybody's - love, who has no hopes of ever winning the man she loves - this is extraordinary. A lesser woman would have been so hungry for love she'd have melted at such devotion! But Fanny knows what she wants, and finally her quiet strength shines through and wins. This novel is a masterpiece, Fanny is wise, strong, deep, Austen's strongest and most interesting heroine by far.
Mansfield Park, although certainly regarded as a part of the canon of English literature, is often considered to be the weakest, least dazzling of Austen's novels. Without the witty sparkle of Pride and Prejudice or the gothic indulgence of Northanger Abbey, it has struggled at time to match the popularity of her other titles. But oh, what a treat those who pass over Mansfield Park are missing. Certainly, it is the most disturbing and perhaps the least superficially pleasing of Austen's output but it has rewards aplenty for the careful reader.
Mansfield Park, home of the affluent Bertram family, takes in a young poor relation with the overt intention of giving her the advantages of a good education and good connections while preserving her sense of gratitude and subservience. Fanny, the haplessly lucky chosen beneficiary of such benevolence is uprooted from friends, home, family and all that it familiar to take up residence in the grand house with her grand relations. Austen sets Fanny up as the heroine, designed to evoke the sympathy of the reader: this is a challenge for a modern audience, many of whom will find her weak and too self-deprecating to be genuinely engaging. And similarly, the sins and deficiencies in disposition and feeling with which Austen gifts brother and sister, Mary and Henry Crawford, may seem not so damning today as Austen intended. This however, does little to detract from the overall value of the novel itself. The relationship between the Bertram family and its colonial role (their wealth derives from sugar plantations in Antigua) is only hinted at overtly, but beautifully explored through the metaphorical position of Mansfield as the centre of all that is English. Similarly, contemporary values regarding manners, position, influence and identity are gently rolled out for the reader through the evolving relationship between the Bertrams and their acquaintances and within the family itself. And yet, with all this meat beneath the surface, there is still a gentle and touching domestic love story, which evolves over the course of the novel as the more passionate, less fatalistic engagements and attachments of side characters wax and wane.
Mansfield Park is a masterpiece of English manners, of Englishness and of empire. It is also a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Now, I'm off to start at the beginning again!
on 4 November 2013
It came as a dreadful shock that thisee quintessentially English author's books should be sold to me, in the UK, with American spelling. Just so irritating that I will delete the edition and return to my bound volumes. I strongly feel that 'American English' should be clearly stated in the book information (ie before purchase). My apologies to American readers of this review but, after all, Jane Austen is ours!