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Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

MistyMeena
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Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#74435

Postby MistyMeena » August 14th, 2017, 10:19 pm

Please use this thread for any comments/discussion while reading or reviewing Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

As people will be at different stages of reading please preface your posts with an indication of how far through the book you are at the time of commenting or if you have finished - this will help people to know if there are likely spoilers for them.

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#77579

Postby carrie80 » August 28th, 2017, 9:01 pm

I'm just starting Mansfield Park - I've only read a few pages so far.

I've read it before, but not for years, so I just have a vague recollection. I think I must have read it as a teenager when I went through most of Jane Austen's works, having been inspired by the 1995 BBC Pride & Predjudice adaptation. I've reread some of her works since (P&P and Persuasion being my favourites), but have never had any urge to go back to Mansfield Park. I read Austen's books primarily as romances first time round, and I'm interested to find what else I see this time round.

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#79860

Postby MistyMeena » September 8th, 2017, 10:08 am

Up to Chapter 4

I thought this book would be readily available in the local library but they do not have a copy. Ordering one through them is easy but I could see that all the copies in the county were out on loan. A quick scan of the charity shops ended in success though and for a pound I’ve got started.

I haven’t read this before and have no knowledge of the plot and characters other than the name of Fanny Price. In the first few pages I was confused that Fanny might be an older, married woman before realising that this was her mother! Mrs Norris’ assurances to Sir Thomas that his sons will only think of Fanny as a sister gives me a nod in the direction that I think the book will take.

There is an arrogance, along with the desire to help, in the movement of Fanny from Portsmouth to Mansfield Park. There is also a lack of caring about what is best for her. This is repeated when it is suggested that she moves in with Mrs Norris. This suggestion just confirms for Fanny that she is not really wanted by anyone. Her position is supposed to have been improved by coming to live with the Bertrams but it seems that she has not managed to achieve all that they desired for her and that they would be happy to see her move on. She obviously feels the rejection.

In the same chapter Sir Thomas and Tom leave for Antigua. The length and difficulty of that trip seems incomprehensible compared to nowadays. Their departure though shows how little attachment is felt between family members. The family unit and their connections were important at the time (women being expected to make good matches that could help out their families for instance) when people could be reliant on the income of estates and the distribution of wealth through the family. Tom’s disregard for the problems that he is potentially leaving for Edmund with his reckless spending is further evidence that the Bertrams are not a cohesive unit.

MM

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#83789

Postby midnightcatprowl » September 26th, 2017, 8:12 pm

I've finished reading this, in fact I finished reading this in the early part of last week.

I've read it two or three times before and at least once listened to it as an audio book - a rare event for me as I'm not terribly into audio books.

Because I had a particular reason for proposing this as a Book Club read I'm hoping to see some reviews by other members before I make any further comments myself.

Breathless hush?

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#95473

Postby MistyMeena » November 13th, 2017, 10:10 pm

Apologies for such a prolonged hush! I have completely stalled on this book at Chapter 17. No particular reason, just picked up other books instead; although typing this perhaps Fanny was seeming just a bit too passive for me? Determined to get back to it...soon.

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#106456

Postby MistyMeena » December 28th, 2017, 3:54 pm

Success at last! I finished Mansfield Park just before Christmas. Part of my stalling I am putting down to the copy of the book that I bought months ago. The font was not desirable and the type was too small but despite that the book was a clumsy size. At the beginning of December I returned to (paid) work after a break of 15 years and treated myself to a Kindle as I will be travelling a lot. I made the purchase with some trepidation but Mansfield Park has converted me because I was rather impressed with how quickly I got through it (choice of font and size and the encouragement of the percentage read helped as well as being able to switch books for variety while I was away).

I ended up rather liking the book. I had been fed up with how passive Fanny was and how "good" she was to refuse to join in with the acting. But once she began resisting Henry Crawford I thought, go for it girl, stick to your guns. She did turn out to be a refreshing character. She'd have seen off Harvey Weinstein...far fetched, perhaps, but it popped into my mind.

Now what was the reason behind this nomination?

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Re: Book Club: Reading thread Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

#115434

Postby midnightcatprowl » February 3rd, 2018, 11:33 am

Now what was the reason behind this nomination?


I read Austen's books primarily as romances first time round, and I'm interested to find what else I see this time round.


Often I read books just the once and maybe was disappointed by them or maybe enjoyed them at that particular moment but once the book was finished that was that. Overall however books to me are a bit like pieces of music, if you like them you will play/read them at intervals.

Over the years some books remain very significant and enjoyable reads while others which were previously enjoyable and significant become less so. I also notice that even those which retain their significance and enjoyment factor often change as you continue to re-read them. You experience them in different ways, find them enjoyable or significant in different ways, notice different things in them and so on, this can increase or decrease the appeal of the book. Sometimes I think this is just because a book is very complex or perhaps contains many layers at which it can be appreciated so you find new things when you re-read, sometimes it may be the moment when you are reading them or the life stage at which you are reading.

I started reading Jane Austin in late childhood (both my parents were fans) - long before my very second rate selective girl's secondary school started trotting out Jane Austin over and over again as an 'easy' (as our mostly second rate teachers saw it) option as opposed to tackling new, different and challenging stuff. But I continued to enjoy her work despite the stultifying approach of my school. I've continued to re-read her work throughout my life though Mansfield Park less than others, it has never been a favourite.

I have to say that Austin is now to me an ever decreasing pleasure. I still get a great deal of enjoyment from 'Pride and Prejudice' though the experience of reading the book has changed quite radically over the years but there is a lot there to enjoy especially the character of Elizabeth. Many of the characters in that book are quite appalling but at least the description of their appallingness is interesting and the characters seem to me to be realistic - I've met people like Elizabeth's mother and her father and Lydia and so forth in real life dressed up in modern clothes, driving cars and clutching smart phones but showing many of the same characteristics as Austen points up in the characters in P&P. There is also a keen thread of wit running through P&P which leavens the weight of many of these frankly totally useless and rather revolting people.

Mansfield Park? Well the last time I re-read it I passed from 'probably my least favourite' to being on the verge of feeling 'I positively dislike this book and my liking for the author is rapidly draining away'. I'm stunned by the complete uselessness of the majority of the characters, their purposeless lives, their viciousness and complete lack of empathy and concern for anyone but themselves and their excuse of 'Christianity' and 'morals' for following and working themselves into emotional lathers over a rigid code which has a lot to do with position and class and very little to do with Christianity in particular. I'm also stuck by the viciousness of the author as she describes the foibles of these people. Austin is, of course, a vicious writer but normally the viciousness is tempered by wit but wit seems lacking in Mansfield Park.

The sympathy for the young Fanny dropped into the chilly emotional atmosphere of Mansfield Park and then mostly left to fend for herself and, of course, the kindness of Edmund the only one to show any concern for her or to be able to grasp her needs, is no longer enough to sustain for me interest throughout the novel in what are two fairly 'thin' and not terribly interesting characters.

Finding myself experiencing ever reducing enjoyment of what was once a favourite author, and especially of this particular book, I nominated it because I wanted to get some as it were 'raw' reaction from other people who had actually recently read the book. Austin is constantly mentioned as a great author but I've become increasingly suspicious that at least some people who make this statement don't actually read her books or only read them long ago and are operating on memories rather than on current or recent experience.

Austin of course makes for good TV or at least for the sort of TV many people like to watch - the country houses, the balls, the clothing, the 'romance'. I suppose that increasingly people experience Austin via TV which may in turn colour their view of her as an author.

As my nomination of Mansfield Park was accepted, I did read it again, but if it hadn't been for the purpose of Book Club I think I'd have abandoned it early on.


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