Make room on your book shelves, fans of Pride and Prejudice. It’s time to expand your Jane Austen horizons with her darkest and most non-traditional (and in my and many critics' opinions, best) novel, Mansfield Park. First-time readers of this book will immediately be thrown by Fanny Price, the unlikely heroine who proves a polar opposite to the more traditional aspects of Austen's other leading ladies—such as Lizzie’s sharp wit, Marianne’s eccentric speeches, and Emma’s extreme confidence. Fanny is introverted, pious, and always right. In fact, many readers may at first think Mary Crawford is the heroine, as she is clever and never stagnant, unlike Fanny. However, as the story makes unusual twists and turns, readers come to adore Fanny for her morality and honesty, and to sympathize with her silent sufferings in love and in her lot in life. Different than any other Austen heroine, Fanny never has to change herself—she is already the person she wants to be and is in fact the one who must teach others. This book is recommended for anyone who thinks they know Austen-style books after reading her more famous Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, or for anyone who is interested in reading a first-time Austen novel and wants to delve right into her most brilliant piece.
Recommended August 2008