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Penguin Classics Mansfield Park [Hardcover]

Jane Austen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 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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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets better upon further acquaintance! June 30 2013
By Ladybug TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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 as a sort of “charity project”. Here she will grow among here snobbish cousins Maria and Julia, but also through her relationship with her cousin Edmund who will forge her character and give her firm principles of which she will never relinquish, even when a certain Henry Crawford comes into the picture and tries to seduce her.

Of all the 6 novels, this used to be the one I most dreaded for one simple reason: I use to hate Fanny Price. Why? Because she made me think of a certain heroine of the Bronte sisters I still struggle with, for I saw them as a lot alike in character and behavior. But I must admit that Mansfield Park was better the second time around. I actually enjoyed Fanny and her grounded and highly reflected behavior, especially when it comes to Henry Crawford. I also liked how the author developed the relationship of Edmund and Mary Crawford and all the struggles surrounding it on his side. So all in all, this novel grows on you as you reread it.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Everybody likes to go their own way May 16 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Even the best authors in the world sometimes put out something that... well, isn't up to their usual standards. For Jane Austen, that book was "Mansfield Park" -- her prose is typically excellent, and she weaves a memorable story about a poor young lady in the middle of a wealthy, dysfunctional family. But put bluntly, Fanny Price lacks the depth and complexity of Austen's other heroines.

As a young girl, Fanny Price was sent from her poor family to live with her wealth relatives, the Bertrams, and was raised along with her four cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia.

Despite being regarded only little better than a servant (especially by the fawning, cheap Mrs. Norris), Fanny is pretty happy -- especially since Edmund is kind and supportive of her at all times. But then the charming, fashionable Crawford sibilings arrive in the neighborhood, sparking off some love triangles (particularly between Maria and Henry Crawford, even though she's already engaged.

And the whole thing becomes even more confused when Henry becomes intrigued by Fanny's refusal to be charmed by him as the others are. But when she rejects his proposal, she ends up banished from her beloved Mansfield Park... right before a devastating scandal and a perilous illness strikes the Bertram family. Does Fanny still have a chance at love and the family she's always been with?

The biggest problem with "Mansfield Park" is Fanny Price -- even Austen's own mother didn't like her. She's a very flat, virtuously dull heroine for this story; unlike Austen's other heroines she doesn't have much personality growth or a personal flaw to overcome.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Different, yet interesting. July 15 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Heroine
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... Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by B. McEwan
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Jane Austen's Masterpiece
Mansfield Park might indeed be the crowning novel of Jane Austen's cannon; in which all of her authorial merits are present and paramount. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2002 by Kat
4.0 out of 5 stars good structure and style tailored to evoking characters
Mansfield Park is the work of a mature Austen. Compared to her earlier book, Pride and Prejudice, it features a particularly complex plot structure (complex for Austen, anyway)... Read more
Published on July 3 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Austen but....
Recently I've been on an Austen kick to read everything of hers that I can get my hands on. After eagerly devouring "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility", "Persuasion" and many of her... Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by E. Fitzgerald
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