Review — Mansfield Park

September 15, 2012

I finished reading Mansfield Park not too long ago. It took me longer than I expected to finish, partially because of my previously-mentioned inability to focus on one book at a time, but also because despite my love for Jane Austen, I just couldn’t get into this one.

It turns out I’m not really alone. Ask a selection of Austen fans to rank the novels, and Mansfield Park will as often as not end up closer to the bottom. It’s denser and the characters are harder to like. Bits of witty repartee are few and far between.

It’s not that I didn’t like Mansfield Park, it’s just that I didn’t like it nearly as much as the other Austen novels I’ve read. When deciding which book to pick up of the four or five I was in the middle of, Mansfield Park just didn’t reach out to me as much, and so it took longer to get through.

Now, trying to paint you a picture in this review becomes increasingly problematic. It’s not that nothing happens, it’s just that it happens so slowly and the characters don’t endear themselves to the reader, so you don’t particularly care. Fanny Price isn’t a bad person, she’s just kind of dull. And Edmund means well, but is easily distracted and even more easily manipulated. These are our protagonists.

And our inevitable Austen scandal isn’t particularly surprising given what we know about those involved. The cousins are selfish and flighty, the Crawfords equally selfish and somewhat devious, so really, what did you expect?

I may try to give this one another go when I’m out of my read-80-books-at-once phase and can actually concentrate on it. It really is considered to be one of Austen’s more profound works, so I should probably give it the attention it deserves. Right now though, I’m thinking I may revisit good ol’ Pride and Prejudice as it’s been a while and I have a new copy to break in…