This may make me a disgrace to Jane Austen fandom, but Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice have always been fairly interchangeable in my mind. They’re just so similar! So, even though I love them both dearly, I was initially very excited to start this book and find something a bit different. As always, I adored Austen’s writing style and her pointed humor. In this book, she very deliberately breaks the tropes of the Gothic novel, with funny asides about the genre along the way. Her points are made clearly enough that I could tell what she was making fun of in Gothic novels, even though I’ve read very few myself. However, as I got further into the book, it soon became clear that there was essentially no plot and the main character isn’t very bright. Although she does grow a bit, she has very little agency. Nearly all of the difficulties she faces are in her head or at least blown all out of proportion. I didn’t really feel that this silly main protagonist deserved the intelligent, funny, kind love interest. In typical Austen fashion though, everything just works itself out in the last few pages. This doesn’t typically bother me, but in this case, there wasn’t enough action by the main character preceding the speedy resolution. Only Austen’s wonderful writing saved this for me.
Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Source: giveaway by Kim at Reflections of a Book Addict
As with the previous book, Austen’s writing and humor are all that stands between this book and a two star review. Our heroine, Fanny, is the perfect shy, obedient young woman and for that reason alone, it seems we are supposed to prefer her to Miss Crawford, her competition for Edmund’s heart. Although Miss Crawford can be superficial and even cruel, it seems her main flaw is not behaving as women were expected to behave at the time. As a modern reader, I sometimes found her more sympathetic than Fanny. Likewise, Fanny’s alternate love interest seemed a better match for her than Edmund in manys, starting with the fact that Edmund is her cousin and is sometimes very thoughtless of her feelings. My lack of enthusiasm for Austen’s romantic pairings was offset by my dislike of one particularly nasty character and my enjoyment at seeing her thwarted. That was second only my to my enjoyment at seeing the nastier characters made fun of with Austen’s characteristic wit. Overall, this book was very slow and I felt little interest in the outcome. Again, enjoyable only if you love Austen’s writing.