Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My thoughts on Mansfield Park

I'm a bit hesitant to write about Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen, of course) because the foremost Jane Austen scholar that I know is probably this blog's most loyal reader. And it's possible that she will be disappointed to discover that I haven't read it already.

And she will probably also be disappointed further when I reveal that I did not "read" Mansfield Park; I listened to it on my iPhone. I got it very inexpensively from iTunes (Katie, you might like to know that P&P is the top classic audiobook on iTunes.) It was the only Austen that I didn't have in a hard copy. And while I am a strong believer in the value and delight of paper books, I love audiobooks as well. The reader for this one in particular was superb. I don't think it replaces the experience of holding a real book in my hand; rather, it is a lovely supplement. But I digress.

I started Mansfield Park back in the fall, but I'm counting it as a 2010 book because I listened to the bulk of it over the last 2 months. I had seen the movie about ten years ago, and knew bits and pieces of the plot from friends and The Jane Austen Book Club (GREAT book, by the way.) But as I listened to the first lines, basically what I knew about this book can be summed up in 2 statements. It is by Jane Austen (which conveys all manner of things). And everyone seems to dislike Fannie Price. That was it.

So I was waiting to hate Fannie. Or at least be annoyed by her. But it never happened. I adore Fannie Price. I think she's fabulous. I identify with her shyness, which is probably part of what I find endearing about her. But I like her general attitude and demeanor. And while I question her feelings for a first cousin, I guess that was pretty common in Jane Austen's time.

I still prefer Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but thoroughly enjoyed Mansfield Park. I still have a few more Austens to get through, but I'll probably do them the old-fashioned way.

Have you ever picked up a book that you had preconceived notions about? Did they affect your reading of the book? Were you surprised?


Kirsty said...

My favourite Austen is Northanger Abbey - it's wickedly funny :)

WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

I will forgive you for liking Fannie Price; there are many that do. Initially, I blamed my dislike for her because I read MP right after I first read P&P. I love Elizabeth Bennet as much as you can love a fictional person so in comparison, I found Fannie to be quite the disappointment. I have read MP again but I still can't bring myself to really sympathize with Fannie. I don't know why. I think there are similarities between Persuasion's Anne and even S&S's Elinor -- they're the least exciting heroines -- but I love Anne and Elinor, don't know why I can't like Fannie.
Honestly, my favorite characters in MP? The Crawfords and Lady Bertram
Also, I'm honored to be the foremost Austen scholar of your acquaintance and most loyal reader! :)

Caitlin said...

Kirsty- I know the gist of Northanger Abbey, but I definitely need to read it in its entirety. Thanks for the endorsement!

McB-I don't know much about Anne, but you know I love Elinor. She's probably my favorite. I didn't like the Crawfords at all! They reminded me of the Bingleys! Oh well! I'm glad you still love me though :)

Katie said...

It's not that the Crawfords are good people, they're just the only ones who entertain me. And I'd rather go out for drinks with them than Fannie. Or should I say coffee because Fannie would never go out for drinks.