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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2015
This is a delightful "Coffee Table Book", its really large and has all of Austen's popular reads within it. Print is quite small but its charm is a wonder. The illustrations are extremely well done and really flow with the atmosphere and time of the stories within. Bookmarker and gilt edging make this a true classic to own and enjoy, perfect as a gift or just to own all of Austens novels in one volume which is quite a unique way of owning them. Because of the size of the book I feel its more of a "pick up and flick through" type of thing (hence the Coffee Table Book remark) rather than sitting and reading them from start of finish just as I feel it would be a little uncomfortable to hold at such large size, however, its not an impossible feat! So I am sure others have and will give it a go! Just beautiful book and am pleased to own it.
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Originally posted on A Frolic Through Fiction

I had to resort to using an audiobook. For the first time in my life.

I really wanted to finish this before watching the adaptation on movie night, but I just wasn’t getting through it as quickly as I thought I would. Something about it just seemed really slow. I think it’s the fact that not that much happened. And when something DID happen, Anne wasn’t the sort of character to be in the middle of all the drama. So it’d sort of be told through a sort of secondhand judgement.

That, and the fact that I couldn’t seem to keep hold of everyone’s names. I’ve no idea why. I just couldn’t keep track of who’s who. I thought I’d get the hang of it soon enough, but even though I could remember a few of the main character’s names, everyone else’s was just lost on me.

And yet…

And yet I still enjoyed it. I started using an audiobook found on YouTube ( Aimee's idea, not mine), and it somehow suddenly clicked better. Having it read aloud to me helped me pass through the book quicker…which is a bit confusing, considering the voice read slower than me. But I think it’s because I understood more hearing it rather than reading it. I wouldn’t pause for a while if a paragraph was particularly long – I’d just trundle on, letting the words sink in.

I think I just enjoyed this because of 1. the time period and 2. Jane Austen’s writing. Even though the story was somewhat slow, not much happened, and it was a bit of a push to get through, the things I love most about classics was still there. The main one being the sheer ridiculous way people react to the smallest comments or events – I find it hilarious to read about. Plus the elegance and classiness that comes with the time period. I just adore it.

Also, when it comes to classics I tend to struggle getting through the vast majority of them. This one was still relatively easy to read, considering I didn’t have to look up half the language used. Which I appreciate. There’s nothing I hate more than trying to read a classic but feeling a bit dim for not understanding.

As you can tell, this is a very mixed review. I liked it, but it was definitely one of the slower books I’ve read (in case I’ve not said that enough by now). Anne was a lovely character, and refreshing in the way that she wasn’t necessarily in the middle of all the drama – even if that did mean it felt like hardly anything happened. I loved how the relationships changed gradually through the book too – I could just imagine it happening that way back then. All the sophistication and uncertainty of what people are truly thinking is just fascinating to me.

So while it wasn’t my favourite of Jane Austen’s books (not that I’ve read many yet – but I’m getting there), it still entertained me and I’m glad to have read the character of Anne Elliot. She really is quite a lovely person.

Rated 3/5 stars
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on 11 September 2014
I know that Mansfield Park is generally seen as one of the less popular of Austen's novels and you can say what you like about Fanny Price, with her quietness, her delicacy and poor health - in my view, she is a lesson to us all. The wonderful thing about her is that she holds it all inside - we know she's in love with Edmund, but she hides it away even from herself; she finds herself disapproving of her family in Portsmouth, but then is mortified that she might have let it show. In short, Fanny Price is a very nice, kind lady who thoroughly deserves the happiness which eventually comes to her.

There's loads going on in the book - obviously, it's set on a grand country estate and it is really a romance of an English Country House. I've read critics who argue that the house is as much a character in the book as the Crawfords, Julia and Maria, Mrs. Norris and Sir Thomas. I can't disagree - note how the pastoral idyll fails when trouble comes to the Hall - suddenly the very atmosphere has been infected by Maria Bertram's loose morals. Similarly, when Sir Thomas is away in Antigua - the house begins to fall apart as the custodian of the home is not there to keep it all in order.

The characterisation in the book is fantastic - Mary Crawford for instance - yes, we know she's flawed and that some of the things she does are very suspect, but she's kind of likeable too. Indeed, no one in the book is all bad or all good - in fact, they're just human and very realistic. There aren't many early 19th century romances which can claim the same.

In short, this is a wonderful, wonderful book which provides a fantastic life lesson to us all in patience, the art of courtship and romance and measuring the true worth of a person. Can't recommend it enough.

This kindle edition is FREE and it has page numbers so it's easy to reference in essays - this is a reasonable edition, I feel
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on 10 April 2015
The first of two novels published after Jane Austen's death in 1817, this one was published in 1818. This is the story of Catherine Morland who travels to Bath for six weeks with her neighbours, the Allens. She meets the Thorpes, Isabella, who becomes engaged to Catherine's brother James, and John who seems to woo Catherine in his own, bizarre way. Catherine, on the other hand, falls in love with Mr Tilney and is invited to spend several weeks with his father and sister at Northanger Abbey. The Abbey is a large, old house which Catherine is determined to turn into a setting for one of the gothic novels she loves reading. Her imagination goes overboard when she learns Mrs Tilney died in mysterious circumstances. After a few misunderstandings later, Catherine and Mr Tilney finally end up together and live happily ever after.

I really enjoyed this novel, I didn't know the story at all so it was very new and exciting for me. I love how Jane Austen pops up as the narrator in several places, her witty comments really made me smile. I liked Catherine as the heroine, I got very annoyed with the Thorpes in how they treated Catherine and rejoiced when Catherine turned John down. I loved Catherine's imagination at Northanger Abbey, I would totally be the same if I ever stayed in an old house like that, imagining all sorts of secrets and plots.

I liked the sub-plot of how reading fiction didn't mean you were a bad person, fiction was a relatively uncouth subject for cultured young ladies. Men of the same class traditionally read non-fiction, like politics or travelling biographies. It was generally felt that reading fiction was a waste of time. Jane Austen obviously disagrees with this and has her little rant throughout the story, making both her hero and heroine read and enjoy fiction immensely. This contrasts to Emma where reading novels was slated by Knightley and Emma (I think) as something which did nothing to improve a young lady.

I also picked up on another theme which runs through quite a few of Jane Austen's novels, the unreadable hero. In several of her stories, the main male character doesn't make his feelings known about the main female character until right at the end of the book. In this case, Mr Tilney keeps his emotions close to his chest and we aren't specifically told that he loves Catherine until he proposes. I suppose this keeps the reader guessing as the female lead is the narrator so we generally know what she thinks as she thinks it. This also happens in Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Whereas the non-lead males (James Morland, in this novel and Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice) wear their hearts on their sleeves. Is this a comment on it being better or worse to make your feelings known?
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on 28 April 2018
Well the first few reviews on here are for Sense and Sensibility or Mansfield Park (am not familiar with these novels) but this was definitely Northanger Abbey!!

I wasn't that sold on this book, in fact I got extremely bored part way through, although the descriptions of life in those days was interesting. It was also fascinating to see that even in the late 1700s/early 1800s men were very much in control of women's lives. So fast forward to the 21st century and we are in the same situation, men have been holding back equality for women for hundreds of years then.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 January 2016
Reading this first novel Jane Austen ever wrote (but which was the last to be published) was a very pleasant experience. Below, more of my impressions, with very limited SPOILERS.

This is the story of coming of age of Catherine Morland, aged 17, a silly and immature but good-hearted, honest and likeable young damsel, who meets two very different suitors during her sejour in the good city of Bath somewhere around 1810. The heroin, let's stress it again, is very likeable but not particulalry clever and especially she is mentaly completely immersed in her favourite books - gothic novels. This lack of maturity and common sense as well as a certain estrangement from reality will play her a couple of nasty tricks, from which she will have to learn some valuable lessons... I will say no more about the plot.

Other than the usual delights of Jane Austen humour, wit and sharp social observations, this book offers an extra treat - it is the one in which we can see the real birth of author's talent. The first half of the book makes for a pleasant reading but not much more, as author, who was only 23 when writing her first novel, clearly was still hesitating, treading carefully and learning her trade. But past the middle point, suddenly we see the young writer spreading her wings and soar! Some writers graduate from honest labourer to gret master from one book to another but I think it is the first time I saw the birth of a major writer in the middle of a novel. It impressed me greatly.

My personal copy of "Northanger Abbey" was a Barnes & Noble "old style" hardback, part of "Barnes & Noble Classics" collection. Its very "passé" aspect (going as far as artificially yellowed paper and irregularly shaped edges of pages) actually increased the pleasure I took in reading this very pleasant, entertaining and in many moments quite amusing short novel. I will definitely keep this book and pass it one day to my kids...

I will say no more here about the book. Get it, read it, love it and one day come back to it. ENJOY!
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on 1 March 2015
Fanny Price is adopted by her rich Aunt and brought up with her cousins as the poor relation. Obviously Fanny falls madly in love with her cousin Edmund after living with the family for 9 years (she's now 17 ish?). Enter local vicar's sister and brother in-law, sister falls for Edmund and brother falls for Fanny. There's the usual love triangles, will they won't they, misunderstandings, a big scandal and they all live happily ever after.

This is a long book, there are a lot of conversations which, although interesting and useful for character exploration, could probably be removed. Is that sacrilege? I also didn't like Fanny and Edmund, and most of the other characters (apart from Aunt Bertram, I found her quite amusing in that she couldn't do anything). The only thing Fanny stuck to throughout the entire novel was her dislike of Henry and Mary Crawford.

I think you have to like the lead characters in a novel, otherwise you don't care enough to read 560 pages (even though I did read them all). Jane Austen's prose is still delightful, her characters are amusing even if they are a bit weak-willed and rubbish humans. I still love her ability to write conversations in such a way that you can see the thought processes of the character, see them being manipulated (it seems everyone in 19th century England were master manipulators) until they eventually decide the exact opposite of what they just thought.

This is my least favourite Austen novels so far (it doesn't compare to S&S and P&P) but I can see her characterisation becoming even more skilled and diverse.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2014
Fanny Price is the niece of Lady Bertram, who lives at Mansfield Park with her kindly but rather remote husband, Sir Thomas Bertram and their four children, Tom, Edmund, Julia and Maria. Nearby lives mean-spirited Mrs Norris, Lady Bertram's widowed sister. At the tender age of ten, Fanny is brought to Mansfield Park because her mother, their other sister, has nine children and little money. Lonely and insecure, Fanny learns that her status in the family is low and she is not much more than an unpaid servant. She learns early that she cannot expect much attention or consideration; this turns out to be much better for her character than the privileged upbringing and expensive education of her four cousins. Edmund is the only one who shows real consideration for her and before long she falls hopelessly and irrevocably in love with him. Sir Thomas goes abroad for a time and, revelling in their freedom from his strictness, his children decide to act in a play. It is just for themselves and their friends, but the consequences turn out to be disastrous...
This is Jane Austen's third novel, published in 1814. Most of her novels feature lively heroines with a sense of independence and humour, but Fanny Price is timid and gentle, physically delicate and emotionally vulnerable. She has strong sense of duty, a strong religious faith and is humble and self-effacing. Many people have called her boring and I did find her submissiveness and extreme sensitivity irritating at times. Jane Austen presents her as having a deep sense of propriety and of true moral values. The idea of it being rather shocking to act in a 'worldly' play seems strange today, when we don't set the same value on proper behaviour and moral purity or require young women to be sexually innocent until marriage. However, it becomes clear as the book progresses that the play was not a good idea and exposed young people to follies and temptations for which they were not prepared.
This isn't (in my opinion) such an entertaining story as 'Emma' or 'Pride and Prejudice', but in its own delicate way it is quite a powerful commentary on moral and social standards in eighteenth century society - and in ours.
I enjoyed this novel, both as a love story and as a picture of upper-class society and its values at that time. On the whole, the younger people in it are frivolous, shallow and pleasure-seeking; Fanny is a better person at least partially because she has been denied access to these pleasures. The older folk don't appear in much better light - Lady Bertram is lazy, unthinking and has no depth of feeling; Mrs Norris is spiteful, mean and small-minded; Mrs Price is like Lady Bertram without the money, running a disorganised, grubby home and neglecting the educational and moral needs of her children. Women have status and security only through marriage and so quite often sell themselves on the marriage market to men they do not love or respect. People often behave in a flawed and selfish manner. I'm told all this is meant to be funny; I didn't laugh, but I did appreciate the satire and biting social commentary.
There's no doubt that Jane Austen was a perceptive and intelligent writer, deserving her place in the list of great British novelists. This is the kind of novel that can be read and re-read with profit, gaining new pleasures from it each time.
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on 11 March 2016
I'd forgotten what it is like to read a classic.

A bit difficult, some things long winded some things just inferred. The beauty of them they draw you in requiring your attention. You could read it again and see whole new angles.

A good story Emma portrays events through the lead character. It shows how one side of a story is never enough for a realistic picture. How easily we can be deceived.

I liked it most as I believed it showed that though times have changed immensely since it was written. Love is a constant, we still make matches for ourselves and others, edge around the subject to avoid rejection, don't realise who we care about until something happens and feel incomplete without it.
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on 18 July 2014
First about the Kindle version -- I had no problem with it at all, and thoroughly enjoyed having it on the kindle, especially to see my progress through the novel.

Second, about the book itself -- I was taken with poor, sweet Fanny from the start. She is an unlikely heroine in many ways, like a wall flower, but therefore, observant of the annoying ways of the "society" people. Now for a major spoiler, so look away if you don't want to know how the book ends. Personally, I am glad that the Crawfords eventually got short shrift, and think that Austen very subtly, with much understatement, explained the rather off values which they espoused and made them totally unsuitable for either Fanny or Edmund. But by golly, if I'm going to read a 400+ page novel, I don't want the denouement between lovers to seem like a postscript -- roughly translated, "Edmund got over the loss of Mary after a while and decided that Fanny would be a pretty good wife, if not a better one, instead." There was no epiphany moment where his eyes were opened, where she received the look of love which she had craved for page after page after page. I really could have chucked the book against the wall in frustration and anti-climactic annoyance had it not be my Kindle, which I know will break if you do such a stupid thing ...
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