Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, 1814, ★★★★★
How can one review this book? I don’t want to review it, I just want to talk about it, -grin. I hope I will with Kim. This was one of those titles we both chose to read, so that we could discuss it.
I have never been much of a Jane Austen fan. As a young adult, I read Pride and Prejudice in Spanish. Many years ago, I read it again in English. I liked it, but that was it. In my twenties, movie adaptations of her books were very popular in Spain. Emma Thompson and others I fail to remember, were in all of them. She and Anthony Hopkins, appeared also in The Remains of the Day, and Helena Bonham Carter was popular too with other book adaptations.
Albeit not being the biggest fan, at book club, they suggested reading Emma and Alexander McCall’s spin off, Emma, A Modern Retelling. They were alright. The original Emma moves slow. (That’s not a problem for me, it just kept me from being very impressed.) At book club, however, discussing Emma was high fun. Most of my friends are very versed in all her other books, and the movie adaptations.
I would have happily stopped there, had it not been for Kim, who suggested reading Northanger Abby. That was a title I enjoyed more than the previous two. It’s short, candid, and it has an amateurish tone that makes it charming.
Forward to the present, and Kim again suggested Mansfield Park, decision which I welcomed. The length and seriousness of it have been a pleasant surprise. Austen is very generous, she makes a novel out of nothing much, and she manages to keep you engaged through and through. At a quarter from the end, it becomes a page turner.
I’m always saying this, but I am truly glad not to have known anything of this book. That’s not completely true, I looked at a names chart, and it unfortunately had information of who’ll end up with who. I wish I hadn’t even known that. Even for well known classics such as this, there’s only one time when the plot can surprise you. After that first time, it’s the re-reading that will give us that depth, the joy of reuniting with dear people. But, aside from not discussing anything in detail about Fanny, the heroin of this title, and the rest, I have to say that the book was very close home. Austen’s comments on family, character, upbringing, etc., are timeless. She has a masterful way of profiling and creating characters that come alive in the pages. Now I understand her place in the hearts of millions of readers across the world and across generations past, present, and to come.
Maybe, as the writer of this book, or that book, (out of her main six), she’s still not my favorite author, but when looked in the context of all she wrote, and in the little time she did it, it’s impossible not to lament how short her life was. I can truly say the more I read her, the better her books get, and I’m so grateful that we have the books she wrote. Jane Austen’s kingdom is a nice place to inhabit, -there’s something in it for everyone!