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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Kell

Jane Austen Book Group - Mansfield Park

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Anyone who would like to get hold of a copy of this book and join in the circle - there are many copies available at



Green Metropolis

The third book we'll be reading (throughout May and June) is Mansfield Park:

 

Taken from the poverty of her parents' home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle's absence in Antigua, the Crawford's arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

 

~~***~~







In deference to those who may be reading it for the first time - if you're going to talk about a major plot point, please state which chapter your post relates to and use the spoiler tags, so that those who haven't yet reached that point will know to wait a while before reading that post!




Some questions to consider:

 

1. Fanny Price is the heroine of Mansfield Park and her character is the source of great debate between academics and fans of Jane Austen. She divides opinion. Do you like her? Why? Do you think Jane Austen liked her? What about Mary Crawford? Do you think Jane Austen liked her as well? Discuss the differences in the characters and how Jane Austen wanted us to see them; and how they seemed to you.



2. On first publication Mansfield Park was acclaimed for its ‘high moral tone’; but several others, including Jane Austen’s mother, found its heroine ‘insipid’ and therefore unsympathetic. Do you agree? Do you think this is a ‘moral’ book?

3. It has been said that Mansfield Park is about society – the rich and the poor, at all ends of the scale. Do you think the portrayal of the wealthy and those struggling to survive is accurate, or do you think Jane Austen was only scratching the surface of conditions in Regency England? How important is wealth and social standing to the characters in the book?

 

4. Did you want Fanny to accept Henry Crawford, or did you want her to wait for Edmund?

5. How do men and women interact? Which interactions in particular did you find interesting and why? How do these relationships and interactions compare to engagements and marriages today?

 

6. Are the characters in Mansfield Park conventional in their thoughts and actions according to the time in which the novel is set? In what ways do they conform (or not) to conventions? What is expected of them and how do they react to those expectations?



7. Who was your favourite character and why?

 

8. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

 

9. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

10. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

11. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?



(You do not have to answer all, or indeed, any, of these questions, they are meant only as points for you to perhaps mull over as you read, and provoke more discussion. Please feel free to ask and answer any questions that come up as you read.)

 

 

 

 

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I've read about 14 chapters and am really enjoying it. Of all of Jane Austen's heroines, Fanny reminds me the most of myself. I'm not liking too many of the other characters though - they're all very spoiled and selfish, despite trying to make themselves appear otherwise.

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I must be at the same place as you Kylie (I have been reading other books as well, unusual for me!) I agree whole heartedly with you. I think that the way Fanny is treated is appalling.

 

I do remember this one from many many years ago and it's been great to refresh my memory!

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You're all going to think I'm awful, by Fanny is one of my least favorite heroines. Her and Emma. To me, she's just to weak and preachy. :D

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I have my copy, just trying to finish some books first :D

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Oops I keep forgetting about this, I need more hours in the day :D

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You're all going to think I'm awful, by Fanny is one of my least favorite heroines. Her and Emma. To me, she's just to weak and preachy. :D

 

I'm afraid I'm right with you. This is my least favourite Austen novel and I think a lot of that is becaused I find Fanny so insipid. It always makes me laugh when they try to make a film adaptation, as they have to completely change Fanny's character - anyone remember Billie Piper playing her? It does pick up at around the half-way point (somewhere around chapter 23/24), but it is an effort for me to get to that point.

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I hear ya Jules! (anyone got a spare time machine?)

 

I will start this real soon :D

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OK, I've finished the book and I'll have a go at the questions, although I can't promise great answers because I'm neither eloquent nor very good at thinking deeply on the books I've read. :smile2:

 

1. Fanny Price is the heroine of Mansfield Park and her character is the source of great debate between academics and fans of Jane Austen. She divides opinion. Do you like her? Why? Do you think Jane Austen liked her? What about Mary Crawford? Do you think Jane Austen liked her as well? Discuss the differences in the characters and how Jane Austen wanted us to see them; and how they seemed to you.

I think Jane Austen would have liked all her characters in one way or another. Personally, I liked Fanny - she reminds me a lot of myself :roll: I think she's a lot stronger than people give her credit for. (The following spoiler relates to the end of the book: )

She showed her strength in rejecting the continual and very flattering attentions of Mr Crawford.

She stuck by her morals and high standards throughout the book.

 

I couldn't make up my mind about Mary Crawford. Sometimes I liked her and sometimes I didn't. I believe her heart was in the right place but her earlier upbringing resulted in her placing the important things in life in a different order to the Bertram family.

 

2. On first publication Mansfield Park was acclaimed for its ‘high moral tone’; but several others, including Jane Austen’s mother, found its heroine ‘insipid’ and therefore unsympathetic. Do you agree? Do you think this is a ‘moral’ book?

Yes, I think it's a moral book. The immoral decisions of some characters, and moral decisions of others certainly led them down different paths of life. The good characters eventually fared better than those that didn't have such good hearts.

 

3. It has been said that Mansfield Park is about society – the rich and the poor, at all ends of the scale. Do you think the portrayal of the wealthy and those struggling to survive is accurate, or do you think Jane Austen was only scratching the surface of conditions in Regency England? How important is wealth and social standing to the characters in the book?

Possibly the strongest theme that underlies all of Jane Austen's books is the theme of class and social standing. A great deal of importance is always placed on the characters' standing in society. It seems strange that Fanny was treated so differently to her cousins when she was a direct relation - just because her mother married below her - but I guess that's how it was.

 

However, I like that there are always some characters who don't place such importance on this issue. Examples of these characters in Mansfield Park are Edmund and Henry, and Fanny herself (for the most part - after all, she does seem quite horrified by her family when she reunites with them). It also works conversely - William and Susan, despite coming from a poor family, have such good manners that they are well-liked and respected by the Bertrams, whereas I'm sure a lot of people from the lower classes would have been just as contemptuous of the upper classes as vice versa.

 

Not being from Regency England myself, I can't say for certain, but it seems that Jane Austen has a pretty good grasp of the suffering of the lower classes and easier lives of the upper classes. I think she was a very intelligent woman.

 

I liked that the Bertrams' opinion of Fanny gradually changed during the book, and they came to realise what an asset she was to their family.

 

4. Did you want Fanny to accept Henry Crawford, or did you want her to wait for Edmund?

 

I know that ultimately she made the right decision in waiting for Edmund, but when Crawford was courting her, I really hoped she would go with him. When he went off with Maria, I thought it was all a misunderstanding and refused to believe otherwise until the end of the book. Mary had said it was a misunderstanding in her letter to Fanny! How disappointed I was when I found out it was true! I thought Crawford was a much more interesting character.

 

 

5. How do men and women interact? Which interactions in particular did you find interesting and why? How do these relationships and interactions compare to engagements and marriages today?

Lazily copying my answer from Sense and Sensibility: Obviously their behaviour towards each other is much more conservative than our behaviour today is (I often wonder what Jane Austen would think of today's society - then I get depressed for her sake and stop wondering). Relationships tend to move along much more quickly these days (and end almost as quickly!)

 

6. Are the characters in Mansfield Park conventional in their thoughts and actions according to the time in which the novel is set? In what ways do they conform (or not) to conventions? What is expected of them and how do they react to those expectations?

Fanny doesn't react conventionally when a certain someone becomes romantically interested in her! This is evidenced by the surprise and anger shown by most of the other characters. Otherwise, I think they're fairly conventional when considered during what time they lived (not taking into account the shameful family incident near the end!).

 

7. Who was your favourite character and why?

Probably Fanny, although I admired Crawford for his persistence and I actually enjoyed how ridiculous Mrs Norris was - it makes for some light-hearted moments.

 

8. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

(Spoiler relates to end of book: )

I wish she had gotten together with Crawford, rather than Edmund suddenly realising he was in love with her on the second-last page or something.

 

 

9. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

This is the fourth Jane Austen I've read and I can't wait to read the last two later in the year!

 

10. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

I know it was a common and accepted thing back then, but falling in love with your cousin? Naughty, naughty! :lol:

 

11. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Absolutely! I wouldn't expect anything less from Jane Austen.

Edited by Kylie

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Mansfield Park

 

Here is my review of this book, which I finished today.

 

Mansfield Park

I found it hard to get into this story at first. I think this was because the prose was heavy with little real interaction between the subjects of the story. However once I got further on, I got more involved and JA

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I haven't read MP for a while, because I did not enjoy is as I expected I would. Post Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility, I found Mansfield Park very disappointing. Particularly the scene where they are putting of the play was so frivolous and meaningless. Just what life ought not to be. I did recently pick the book out for a reread, though. It is in a stack that I am to take with me on vacation next week. Maybe my impression will be different this time.

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I have just taken my copy of 'Mansfield Park' from the shelf, I will start reading it after 'Teacher Man' :roll:

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Yeah...I picked it up on vacation this week, and very shortly replaced it with Wilkie Collin's Moonstone. What is it about Fanny Price that I do not like? I think that it is her general weakness and idleness that bothers me. She doesn't do anything evil or problematic...she doesn't do anything at all. But them this whole summary is from me last read and not the read that I meant to complete on vacation. Oh well. I will try again soon.

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Contains spoilers:

 

Pretty good development, but bad ending in my opinion. I think Austen should have put Fanny to eventually fall in love with Henry, who wanted her, rather than get her with Edmund in a way that seemed like E had nothing better to do. Vivid characters, who create all sorts of emotions (I hated Mrs.Norris). Fanny is sympathetic, but her passiveness is a great drawback, to the point where sometimes, I was annoyed with her

What do you think?

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This is the last of the six novels I've read. I preferred it over Sense and Sensibility. I found Fanny Price to be a quiet, but shrewd person. By staying in the background she was able to observe the others and see what was really going on. The most odious of the characters were the Crawfords and the despicable Mrs Norris

 

ETA

 

In many ways , fanny acts as an impartial narrator for the most part. She does express her views, which often go unheeded, but often she is proved right.

Edited by sirinrob

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I did think that Fanny would have been very good for Henry, but I don't think he would have changed for very long (what's gthat old adage about leopards and spots and never changing? :readingtwo: ). So, although I would have loved for her to fall for Henry Crawford, I was ultimately glad that she saw through him and realised how fickle a man he was wth his affections. She was quite violently in love with Edmund, but it wasn't in her to come out and say so - not only is she a very moral and conventional girl, but I don't think she would have wanted to risk her very deep friendship with him. Out of all the other characters in the novel, Edmund is the one she respects the most. He is the one best suited to her temperament and her ideals and they are very close because of that.

 

I was so surprised that Edmund's mother had known all along that Fanny had been in love with Edmund for so long - she didn't seem to me to be all that observant or caring, but she realised Fanny's worth towards the end and spoke out about it.

 

Aunt Norris, on the other hand, was an odious little squit of a woman who deserved misery to be heaped upon her. The only person she had any regard for was Mariah, who was as superficial as Aunt Norris. Both were dispicable and deserved each other.

 

Of the Crawfords, I disliked Mary frmo the outset, but Henry I found rather likeable. He was charming and I don't think he actually meant any harm in his actions. Yes, he set out to make Fanny fall in love with him (and failed dismally, much to his dismaY!), but I think it was more of a game to him than an attempt to make her or anyone else unhappy.

 

Mary, on the other hand, was a cold-hearted money-digger who, when she couldn't have the older brother who would inherit everything, opted to make a play for the younger one and try to change him completely so that she could still marry money, rather than accepting who and what Edmund was (again, this is where he and Fanny were perfect for each other because she held his chosen profession in high regard and knew that it suited him and was important to him). I really wanted something quite dreadful to happen to Mary Crawford (perhaps mangled by a carriage or something drastic), but that simply wouldn't have been in keeping with the simplicity of the story.

 

And Fanny herself. When I first started reading the book, I thought her a bit of a goody-two-shoes and wasn't all that impressed with her, but she really grew on me. I admired how strong she was under very difficult circumstances. She accepted her lot in life and was grateful for the help she had been given by her relatives. She had a very sure sense of duty and of right and wrong. I also loved her enjoyment of simple things - wanting nothing more than a family picnic for her birthday rather than something grand like a ball where she would have felt uncomfortable being the centre of attention. She was sweet and sensible and patient, and I wanted her to have the hapy ending she deserved. Such a completely unspoiled and likeable character as Fanny rarely attracts me this much - I thought she was nothing short of wonderful.

Edited by Kell

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Kell, you expressed my feelings about Fanny very well. Henry had already caused Maria and Julia much upset, as Fanny observed. He for me was a libertine, unfortunately they got away with alot then. Mary I equate with Maria, both spoilt and vain. The Mrs Norris departure to Marie I really enjoyed, serve the meddling old hag right. Edmund I felt was a man of principle, blinded by Mary's ways. I'm glad he saw sense and married the woman he really loved.

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