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Mansfield Park
By Jane Austen

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Mansfield Park

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Mansfield Park
By Jane Austen
Charnwood Large Print (1995)
ISBN 10: 0-7089-8504-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-7089-8504-5
Genre: Classic Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - October 1, 2007

Mansfield Park is a Regency era comedy of manners from the pen of Jane Austen (1775-1817), the master of this entertaining genre. First published in 1814, this large print edition of Mansfield Park is an unabridged edition of this delightful book. This story follows the adventures of Fanny Price, a poor, timid girl, who goes to live with her wealthy cousins where she faces two options - to mature into a greedy conceited woman like her cousins, or to maintain the unpretentious and helpful manner that she developed as a youth.

The daughter of a drunkard, Fanny is given the opportunity to advance in life when she is invited to stay with her mother's sister, Lady Bertram and her husband Sir Thomas at their home, Mansfield Park. The Bertram's introduce Fanny to a world that is totally alien to the one that she was raised in. At Mansfield Park, Fanny also gets to interact with a treasure trove of unique characters that not only enliven Fanny's life, but that of the readers as well.

Fanny is a likeable girl, she is modest and good natured, traits that are sorely tried while she is at Mansfield Park. For while she finds much to admire at the stately estate, but she soon finds that she must also deal with the Bertram's cruel and conceited daughters, Maria and Julia as well as with their son Tom, who like her father, it a bit of a drunkard. Also at the house is Mrs. Norris, another one of her aunts who runs the estate with an iron fist. There is however, one member of the family who attracts Fanny's attention and admiration - and that is Edmund, the Bertram's youngest son who is studying for the ministry. Their romance is convoluted and it is not at all certain that their attraction will ever grow to anything beyond cousinly love. In addition, Fanny has other prospects than Edmund at hand, so whom she is destined to wed is a continual question throughout the book. In addition to Fanny's eventual marital match, that of her varied cousins and several other guests at the estate, are also dallied about within the pages of this book - with amusing results!

Like most of Austen's books, a large portion of Mansfield Park is given over to the machinations involved in the process of match-making. During the Regency period, making a 'good' marriage match was deemed far more important than marrying for love. What you wanted was to marry someone with money who would help you climb up the social ladder. How you felt, emotionally, about your intended partner was not even figured into the equation. The crassness of marrying simply for wealth or social standing is one of Austen's favorite topics to pick fun at - and she has a ball in this book.

Mansfield Park is one of my favorite Austen books (but then again, there isn't one I don't like). The writing is crisp, lively, and droll and the situations that Austen places her characters in are very realistic - so much so that you often want to reach into the book and shake some sense into one or two of them! Mansfield Park is required reading of all fans of Regency Era fiction, witty social commentary, and of course, a must for all Jane Austen fans.

Mansfield Park can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Print.

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