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Booking It with Mansfield Park

This year we’re Booking It on LifeasMOM. It’s an online book club designed to get you off the computer, phone, and boob tube and into a book. Reading is an adventure! You learned this long ago. But, in our older years, it is tempting to forget.

On the 10th of each month, we’re discussing an assigned book, one of the Eleven List. On the 11th there’s a link up opportunity to share all your reading of the past month. For the past few weeks we’ve journeyed to 19th century England.

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Mansfield Park

This month’s assigned reading for Booking It was one of Jane Austen’s lesser known books, Mansfield Park. In many ways, it’s one of my favorites. While the “happy couple” do not have heated arguments nor passionate confessions of love for one another, it’s a sweet tale of goodness and deception, of being overlooked and being recognized, of cowing to society’s norms and relinquishing oneself to inner conviction despite what the world may say.

Fanny Price, our quiet, humble heroine is the unlucky second child in a large, poor family. In a desperate attempt to make life easier for herself, her mother beseeches her estranged sisters to take some of her children off her overworked hands. The sisters “made better marriages” and are better situated to offer financial, and therefore, social, assistance.

She is taken in by her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Bertram. She is raised as the youngest child in a home with her older four cousins, two boys and two girls. Her second aunt, Mrs. Norris, makes sure that over the next decade, Fanny remembers her place. She is not to be recognized, she is not to be exalted, she is not to be favored in any way of her cousins.

Understanding Fanny

One might think Fanny a wimp for not standing up for herself. Yet, really, in her society, she doesn’t have a lot of options. Through the course of the book we see that she grows in confidence, that she sticks to her convictions despite the tide of popular opinion, that she really is stronger than most anyone thinks she us. And most importantly, that in the end, she is acknowledged for the strength of character that she possesses.

Each of us can remember a time when she was overlooked or ignored, mistreated, or misunderstood by those around her. And that’s where we understand Fanny’s predicament — and want desperately for it to change. I think that it is this quality in her situation that originally drew me to her as one of my favorite Austen heroines.

I think I read one Austen book as a teenager and then quickly forgot about good ole’ Jane. It wasn’t until after I married and had kids that I ventured through all the Austen books. And I am a fan. To put it mildly.

Mansfield Park does not have the passionate professions of affection that are present in Emma or Pride and Prejudice, but it has a endearing and redeeming focus on conviction, goodness and virtue. Somethings we could use a little more in this day and age.

What did YOU think?

See ya in the comments as we chat about Fanny Price, Jane Austen, and love stories. Feel free to share the link to your review of Mansfield Park. Tomorrow we’ll link up all reading progress.

Next month’s assigned reading: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Try to read the front matter and test at least three recipes.

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Comments

  1. Well, you can see what I thought of this Austen novel in my review: http://carriesbusynothings.blogspot.com/2011/03/booking-it-mansfield-park-and-thoughts.html

  2. I’ve a HUGE Jane Austen fan. So much so, that I named one of my daughters after one of her characters!

    You know, someone recommended Mansfield Park to me, but I never finished it. I think I WAS looking for the passion and excitement of the other books, maybe I’ll try to re-read it! Thanks!

  3. What a different 20 years makes! I read this book in college, however now as a wife and mother I have a very different perspective. http://asimpletwistoffaith.typepad.com/a-simple-twist-of-faith/2011/03/booking-it-in-2011-mansfield-park.html

  4. I really enjoyed reading Mansfield Park. My review is here http://myviewofthehoneypot.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-it-2011-march.html

  5. This was the second time I read this book, and I think I enjoyed it more this time. Here are my thoughts on it: http://nikkis-notes.blogspot.com/2011/03/blogging-it-march-edition-i-mansfield.html

  6. I’ve read Mansfield Park before, but don’t have it quite finished this time around. I like the character developement, but it’s a little slow during the chapter about the play. I didn’t liked that part the last time I read it either. I do enjoy reading characters who actually struggle with something realistic, like doing what is right or treating others well despite personal feelings etc. so it appeals to me there. And I love the sibling relationship between Fanny and William. I hope my own kids will grow up to care about eachother so lovingly.

  7. I will be blogging about the book when I finish. It is great so far. I plan to spend some time finishing in the next couple of days.
    Thanks again for hosting this reading group. I am really enjoying it.

  8. Fanny Price has ALWAYS been my favorite Jane Austen character. I always seem to get her when I do those character quiz’s too…. hmmm..

    I emphatically and whole-heartedly agree with this;
    “Understanding Fanny

    One might think Fanny a wimp for not standing up for herself. Yet, really, in her society, she doesn’t have a lot of options. Through the course of the book we see that she grows in confidence, that she sticks to her convictions despite the tide of popular opinion, that she really is stronger than most anyone thinks she us. And most importantly, that in the end, she is acknowledged for the strength of character that she possesses.”

    I think she has one of those “meek and quiet spirits” that I so often crave. She doesnt often “speak her mind” but when she does its because she is standing up for her beliefs, her convictions. I think Fanny has some excellent advice to give us, especially in this day and age where its all about ME. She gave up so much of herself not only for sake of the times but also her family. She never forsook herself but put on the Christ-like character of service.

    Um, yeah, I have no thoughts on this subject. ;)

  9. Your favorite? Seriously? Fanny? She married her cousin!!!! Isn’t that enough to gross you out? I do like Mansfield park, read both the book and watched every movie version out, I think…..
    When I first read it, when they spelled Mariah….Maria…it confused me, but once I got past that, I enjoyed it! It was my first Jane Austen, I think I read. Of course, since I read the others after it, I liked them better….and left this one behind! I guess, I should re-read it!

  10. I’ve been reading and continue to read/do Artisan In Bread in Five Minutes since the book came out. I’ve been making buns, bread, pizza, braids, cinnamon rolls and more. I bake it in batches and freeze. Check it out at http://cookandplay.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/grilled-burgers-on-homemade-sandwich-thins/

  11. I had read Mansfield Park before and hadn’t loved it. Since Jessica said it was one of her favorites, I approached this read positively. However, I still wouldn’t call it one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. Perhaps because I’m a very active person, Fanny’s physical weakness annoys me. She’s sent to bed early because dancing tires her. She gets a headache from cutting flowers. And on and on and on. She’s lucky that she was the one chosen to go to Mansfield Park because she wouldn’t have survived in her father’s home. After finished Mansfield Park, I was driven to reread my second favorite (after P&P) Persuasion. Anne is similar character, but I like her much better than Fanny.

  12. This was the first time I’ve read Jane Austen. At first it was hard to read with its excessive wordiness, but then I got to enjoying it and it was a pleasant read. Because Fanny was in love with her COUSIN, I didn’t expect them to get togther in the end, but I guess that kind of thing wasn’t frowned on 200 years ago, huh?

    I downloaded Pride and Prejudice after reading Mansfield Park, but haven’t devoted the time to really dig into it yet. Soon!

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