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Penguin Classics Mansfield Park [Hardcover]

Jane Austen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 20 2011 Clothbound Classics
Part of "Penguin's" beautiful hardback "Clothbound Classics" series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. Taken from the poverty of her parents' home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle's absence in Antigua, the Crawford's arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. "Mansfield Park" is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

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From Amazon

Though Jane Austen was writing at a time when Gothic potboilers such as Ann Ward Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto were all the rage, she never got carried away by romance in her own novels. In Austen's ordered world, the passions that ruled Gothic fiction would be horridly out of place; marriage was, first and foremost, a contract, the bedrock of polite society. Certain rules applied to who was eligible and who was not, how one courted and married and what one expected afterwards. To flout these rules was to tear at the basic fabric of society, and the consequences could be terrible. Each of the six novels she completed in her lifetime are, in effect, comic cautionary tales that end happily for those characters who play by the rules and badly for those who don't. In Mansfield Park, for example, Austen gives us Fanny Price, a poor young woman who has grown up in her wealthy relatives' household without ever being accepted as an equal. The only one who has truly been kind to Fanny is Edmund Bertram, the younger of the family's two sons.

Into this Cinderella existence comes Henry Crawford and his sister, Mary, who are visiting relatives in the neighborhood. Soon Mansfield Park is given over to all kinds of gaiety, including a daring interlude spent dabbling in theatricals. Young Edmund is smitten with Mary, and Henry Crawford woos Fanny. Yet these two charming, gifted, and attractive siblings gradually reveal themselves to be lacking in one essential Austenian quality: principle. Without good principles to temper passion, the results can be disastrous, and indeed, Mansfield Park is rife with adultery, betrayal, social ruin, and ruptured friendships. But this is a comedy, after all, so there is also a requisite happy ending and plenty of Austen's patented gentle satire along the way. Describing the switch in Edmund's affections from Mary to Fanny, she writes: "I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people." What does not vary is the pleasure with which new generations come to Jane Austen. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Jane Austen paints some witty and perceptive studies of character.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Austen's best, but still wonderful June 18 2004
After having read (and loved) Jane Austen's more famous novels EMMA and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, I found MANSFIELD PARK a true delight despite its smaller feel. Fanny Price is taken in by her wealthy aunt and uncle as charity to her more lowly-married mother, and is raised with her cousins with the idea she needs refinement and education to become as good a woman as her lesser social standing will allow. Fanny is nervous and self-effacing, struggling with her new situation until her cousin Edmund makes her feel more at home. Gradually, she feels like a part of the family, although the nagging sense of unworthiness always asserts itself. As cousins marry and suitors appear, as scandals arise and emotions become known, Fanny finds herself in the equivalent of a Victorian soap opera.
Fanny is undoubtedly one of Austen's less assertive characters, although she does mature into a woman who knows what she wants and will accept no less. I loved Fanny and her honesty, the little girl who fears the stars in her eyes and still manages to grow up into a respectable - and respected - woman. Her complexities are subtle and understated, making the reader work at times to understand her motivation, although anyone who has felt like an outcast even once, or anyone who respects honesty, will identify with her. In true Austen fashion, the observations are witty, with pointed social analysis and cynicism dressed up in sly humor. Fanny's aunts in particular are skewered, but no one, not even Fanny, is spared.
Readers picking up this novel for the sheer delight of it will find it difficult to put down, as its language is accessible and free-flowing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Austen's most controversial novel. June 13 2004
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 expedient participation in the slave trade, a business that his sons Thomas and Edmund abhor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Heroine April 16 2004
While this isn't the greatest of Jane Austen's novels and is somewhat light on external action, it is certainly a fine example of characterization, by which I mean that the action takes place inside the heads of the main characters, especially Fanny Price, the heroine. Fanny is 10 years old when she comes to live with her mean-spirited relatives at Mansfield Park, and grows to womanhood in an environment full of condescension and personal challenge. Her story, and her resulting triumph over prejudice and emotional greed, was an inspiration to women when it was written, and continues to be so today.
If you are not familiar with Jane Austen's work, don't be put off by the comments of others. Start with one of her more well-known novels, such as Pride and Prejudice or Emma, and then work up to Mansfield Park after you've come to love Austen.
If you are one of those women who, like me, devoured Austen's more well-known novels and are now searching for the lesser known work, will enjoy Mansfield Park as well. I give it five stars just for the simple fact that it was written by Austen, arguably one of the greatest writers in the English language, male or female.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Jane Austen's Masterpiece Oct. 8 2002
By Kat
Format:Audio Cassette
Mansfield Park might indeed be the crowning novel of Jane Austen's cannon; in which all of her authorial merits are present and paramount. Where Pride and Prejudice sparkles, Mansfield Park is solid gold. Pride and Prejudice can pass as a whimsy, an entertaining story, but Mansfield Park has pure heart. It ventures slightly deeper into the human condition and emerges slightly higher, ringing slightly truer than what is often considered to be Austen's most popular novel.
For reasons already mentioned, Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite of Austen's books, though Mansfield Park is right up there with it. It would be like comparing the two heroines of each novel; Elizabeth Bennet and Fanny Price. Elizabeth is witty and beautiful and idependent; Fanny is good and wholesome and always considerable of what is right. We, the readers, have more fun tailing after the sparkling Elizabeth, but we admire and advocate Fanny.
In short, Mansfield Park is arguably Jane Austen's best and definitely a must-read for Austen and Victorian fans. And although the cousin-love thing is slightly unnerving to our modern sensibilities, Edmund's final confession can't be rivaled by either Darcy's or Knightly's at all.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love the cloth binding.
Published 1 month ago by Kathryn MacLennan
Published 2 months ago by MYRNA ROXBURGH
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen books will love this novel. Unlike some of her other novels, the ending is not easy to predict. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Penny B.
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets better upon further acquaintance!
One of the 2 longest novels by Jane Austen, this one depicts the life of poor Fanny Price who, upon the generosity on her uncle and aunt, is welcome to their home of Mansfield Park... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ladybug
4.0 out of 5 stars Everybody likes to go their own way
Even the best authors in the world sometimes put out something that... well, isn't up to their usual standards. Read more
Published on May 16 2010 by E. A Solinas
4.0 out of 5 stars Different, yet interesting.
For Mansfield Park you will need a lot of patience to get through the book, as few parts are slow, but then the book picks up. Overall, this book is a good read.
Published on July 15 2009 by nadnuk12
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Austen
I've read that Mansfield Park was Jane Austen's favorite of her marvelous works. The heroine, Fanny Price, is virtually flawless. Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by Amber R. Habig
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Descriptions, No Plot
I found when reading this book the story strayed from it's main character, Fanny, and went on for several pages, and sometimes entire chapters, about points which are irrelevant to... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars I, as a devoted Austen fan, was disapointed in this book
I have read all of Austens books, excluding Persuasion, and I think that this was the worst of her novels. The main character was boring and a pushover if not unlikeable. Read more
Published on June 21 2003 by Anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I expected
Mansfield Park got better as I read on...
The characterizations are typical of Jane Austen: alive, distinct and vivid. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2003
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