Mansfield Park (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
By Jane Austen
Well, I am reading so much, I haven’t had time to review each book individually! (I think reading has been my stress-relief-escape this month, kind of like my anti-drug.) So for your enjoyment, a review of my past two books!
The first book I read, Christy, (thanks to Melissa’s one vote!), I actually wasn’t planning on discussing because I’ve read it so many times. But it is so incredible, I cannot help but dwell on it for a few minutes! What is intriguing about this book is really not the writing; Catherine Marshall is not my favorite author when it comes to style. What totally makes this book is the STORY, which is based on the TRUE story of the author’s mother. I absolutely love how the story of the primitive Tennessee mountan people in the early 1900s is given from the perspective of a young city lady coming to teach school. The whole thing is entertwined with this young woman’s journey of faith as she learns to take the faith that she grew up with from her head and works it into her heart. She is faced with the challenge of applying faith to the poverty, sickness, and pure ignorance of the people around her. Not only does she have to try to make it make sense for them, she also has to make it make sense for herself as she faces her own crisis of belief. The crowning jewel of this book is Miss Alice, the Quaker that has risen from the ashes of her own problems to embrace faith and this people group so unlike herself unconditionally. The book is peppered with her unique perspectives. Christy is an excellent read for anyone – I highly believe that it should be included in the repertoire of any well-read Christian. And the unexpected ending makes it worth getting all the way to the last page!
Alright, the reception of my second book was so exciting in itself that I must explain it. About a month ago, a good friend of mine from middle school, Stephanie, made a detour on her way home from college for Spring Break so that she could stop by and visit with us. Of course we were more than happy to host her, and she is an excellent guest. While she was here, the discussion of what we like to read came up, and I expressed that I am slowly working my way through Jane Austen’s novels, but I only owned two of them. Low and behold, a week later, Mansfield Park arrives in the mail as a “thank you gift”! (Along with a book that appeals to Josh’s taste in reading.) Of course this was completely unnecessary, but so extremely thoughtful!
So my next reading endeavor was Mansfield Park. Just like Miss Austen’s other works, I found it to be extremely delightful. Fanny Price is very UNlike all of Austen’s other heroines, as she is not particularly witty but is extremely cautious to speak and tactful in her actions. One of my favorite things about reading Austen’s novels is comparing and contrasting the different characters. Mr. Crawford, for example, at times appears to be as scandalous as Mr. Wickham or Willoughby, but at other times you wonder if he is going to turn out to be Mr. Darcy after all. In the end we discover that although he is a dynamic character and shares some of Mr. Darcy’s good qualities, his cavalier view of the majority of women will end up being his destruction and send him to an even worse fate that Mr. Wickham himself. Edmund, on the other hand, I find to be parallel with S & S’s Edward Ferrars. We think that he is bound to break Fanny’s heart, but in the end everything falls into place. Fanny’s cousins, Maria and Julia, are definitely parallel with the Lydia of P&P, and Marianne at the beginning of S&S. Their lack of discretion and proper morals makes them entertaining characters that, despite their self-importance, are bound for the destruction of themselves. Miss Crawford is similar to Lucy Steele (S & S), in the fact that she is made very important, although her upbringing was actually worse than Fanny’s and she has no real sense of personal morals. The indolence of Lady Bertram and Lady Middleton are also parallel, although Lady Bertram is so lazy that she is not even willing to go to town. However, what makes this book even more interesting is, although many of Austen’s characters can be compared to those in her other books, the outcome of the book itself is quite different. Austen is a genious at taking ordinary characters and making their stories fascinating! She also has an incredible way of expressing the human nature, and I can find many of her descriptions of people applicable to people I know today.
To add to my literary bliss, a part of my Easter present from my hubby was Northanger Abby. I suppose you can expect another Austen review fairly soon!