Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mansfield Park Book Club Discussion

My Book Club were filmed for Irish Breakfast TV show Ireland AM for their Book Club Slot. the link below will take you to the video. Not sure if it will work outside of Ireland.

Here is a reminder of my review of Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park was published 200 years ago this week. It was the book Jane Austen published immediately following her success with Pride & Prejudice and it tells the story of Fanny Price a poor relation of the Bertram's of Mansfield who is brought to live with the family when she is ten years old.
Fanny is a character that a twenty-first century audience will find hard to understand. She keeps her mouth shut even when she disagrees with what others are doing and she remains resolutely good even when the bad behaviour of the other characters leads to her getting hurt. She is the moral compass at the centre of a group of characters of questionable morals. In a way Austen is at her most bleakly comic with this novel as she paints the upper class, as condescending, flighty, arrogant and lazy. Fanny is a lot like Jane herself taking it all in observing not really getting involved possibly because Jane like Fanny held a precarious poistion in society, having to be supported by male relatives. Fanny is never treated as an equal at Mansfield Park she is a niece that was taken in to relieve the burden of her upbringing from her parents who had nine children and were very poor. Fanny is told right from the start that she is inferior and immediately her aunts and cousins treat her as such. Only her cousin Edmund is kind to her but no matter how much he speaks up for her, Fanny will never speak badly about her relatives - she wants to be thought of as a quiet, grateful and no trouble at all.
The Crawfords when they arrive cause a ripple in the carefully subdued society of  Mansfield, Fanny is the only one who seems to be unaffected by them. I first read this book at nineteen and I identified with Fanny trying to find her way in society. Twenty years later I find it harder to sympatise with her - she is too quiet, too weak-willed too willing to please. She doesn't have the spark or the wit that other Austen heroines have. The bad girls get all the good lines in this book and so for me it doesn't appeal as much as Pride & Prejudice or Perausion which is much more mature and belanced work. The book was made in to a movie in 1999 which was arguably the best adaptation of the novel so far though it differs in that there is greater detail about the slave trade which supported grand estates like Mansfield and the dissolute lifestyle that wealthy man and women lived in the regency period.

1 comment:

  1. hi Lisa! I'm not sure if you got my twitter message, but would be delighted to do the Q & A :) Sorry for the delay!