Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, a young girl who is shipped off to live with a wealthy aunt because her own home is too crowded and poor. She is treated with kindness, but almost everyone in the new household considers her no more than a glorified servant - except for cousin Edmund who dares to accept her as a true sister and friend.
If you are new to Austen, I would not recommend this book as your first attempt. Fanny Price is widely considered one of the most boring heroines in literature. I am thankful that the first version (from Penguin Classics) I ever read contained an excellent introduction by Tony Tanner that dispelled this myth. Tanner wrote that Fanny represented goodness, and that goodness doesn’t have to “do” anything. It just “is.” While all the other characters in the book are rushing after pleasure with little regard for principle, Fanny waits quietly and bravely. In the end her virtue is richly rewarded.
The writing is very good (of course!), but this book is slow moving and not nearly as witty as some of Austen’s other novels. If you stick with it, though, the closing chapters tie things up beautifully and it’s a satisfying read.
This was my first book completed for The Classics Club Challenge.