Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, 1814

I’m soooo behind in my reviews because I have been a lazy little bug !

Anyway, my second trip in the world of Jane Austen wasn’t as good as I wished it would be.

Mansfield Park starts like a fairy tale. You have the little orphan (semi orphan but that’s just a technicality), the horrible Aunt, the scary Uncle and the completely out of the reality other Aunt. Lady Bertram and Sir Thomas decide to help Lady B’s sister, Mrs Price, who has more children than you can think of and did a very bad marriage. Out of generosity, they help her by taking the eldest daughter to educate her and teach how to be a nice servant. Lady Bertram has no clue whatsoever of what happens around her and Sir Thomas is only preoccupied by the cost of the operation since his business isn’t going so well. The Bertram girls, Maria and Julia, are so selfish, light headed and too busy to look for a husband or to seduce the neighbour to even notice Fanny, our little orphan. Only Edmund, the Bertram’s second son, is an angel of mercy for the little girl. He takes her under his wing, teaches her everything a lady should know and acts as her best friend. Mrs Norris, Lady B’s second sister, is there to remind Fanny of her right place in the family, which is, according to her, just above the cook but a notch below the family dog. Sir Thomas and his eldest son, Tom, have to go to Antigua to straighten Sir Thomas’s business. Mrs Norris has a free hand in dictating her views and arranges Maria’s wedding with Mr Rushworth, a rich but very dull man. Maria, attracted but so much money and prestige, agrees. The new occupants of the Parsonage, Dr Grant and Mrs Grant, will soon be included in the daily life of Mansfield Park, especially after Mrs Grant’s brother, Henry Crawford, and sister, Mary Crawford, establish their residence there. Edmund falls in love immediately with Ms Crawford and forgets all about Fanny. Mr Crawford seduces Maria, but just for fun… As soon as she seems to be interested in him to the point where she could cancel her wedding, off he goes. He comes back after the wedding and decides that he has now to seduce Fanny.

Half way through  the book, I had the feeling that the story hadn’t start yet, that Austen was still introducing the characters to me. Fanny is too pale, unassuming to be a interesting heroine. I wasn’t really interested in knowing what could happen to her. The whole Bertram family is a gallery of hypocritical, lazy, dull characters, even Edmund. He’s so fiddle and easily manipulated that you feel sorry for him. Henry Crawford reminds me of Valmont, minus the charm, the vulnerability or the personality.

I don’t often do that but I didn’t finished it, I stopped after chapter 26 ( and someone is probably going to tell me that after chapter 27 everything gets SO interesting)

I give it a 2/10


Trip to the Library #1

I just came back from my monthly trip to the local library. I took more books than I can read in three weeks but I always do that. I like to have the choice. So, in my magic (and heavy) book bag this month are :

  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  • Emma, Jane Austen
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen

I told you that I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice so I HAVE to read more Jane Austen. It is required.

  • Middlemarch, George Elliot
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • Villette, Charlotte Brontë
  • The Moon is Down, John Steinbeck
  • Clock without Hands, Carson McCullers
  • Secret Windows : Essays and fiction on the craft on writing, collective.

See, too much books ! I’ll try and read all of them and I will let you know 🙂

Armchair BEA Genre Topic : The Classics

Genre Topic 1: The Classics

The Questions:

  • Today, tell us all the reasons why you love classic literature.

Hmmm, that is a good question. Why do I love classics. First of all, the definition of a classic is quite large and vague… A book which by its timelessness and universalism is capable of touching everybody at any time being. A book in which any human being can find something to nourish their brain or full up their heart. I love classics because they are still relevant hundreds years after they had been written. I love them because our civilisation is based on those pieces of art. How many books, movies, paintings, songs have been inspired by Dante’s Inferno ? How come, more than 50 years after it had been published, The Grapes of Wrath is still relevant ? (plus holding a classic in a public place makes you look smarter :p )

  • What are your favorite classics?

Cornelian choice here… I’d say Grapes Of Wrath by Steinbeck, The Aventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby by F.S. Fitzgerald…oh and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo ! and so many many many many more.

  • If you could give a list of classics to someone who claims to hate them to make them change their mind, what would be on it ?

I’ve met many young (and not so young) people you claimed they didn’t like classics. When asked why, all of them told me that it was because those were old long books, written in a dated and obsolete language. So I’d give those people The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger (even if it’s a very controversial classic) and maybe Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson…just to prove them how wrong they are and how fun a classic can be !

  • How would you convince them to give classics a try?

I’d suggest to maybe watch the movie first, if there’s any good adaptations out there, or to try a abridged and /or modernised version. Or maybe to read in group, so they can share their difficulties.

  • And why do you keep coming back to those old favorites?

Because I don’t have any other choice…that’s how true love works.