Thursday, May 6, 2010
Fanny is the definite protagonist of this book and I have to say that I felt sorry for her throughout most of the book. Her family is poor and because of this she's shipped off to live with her aunt and uncle at Mansfield Park. She also lives with her four cousins, all of which are snotty and spoiled...with the exception of Edmund. Edmund is truly the only one that treats Fanny with any tact. Fanny is always being reminded of how grateful she should be and how she shouldn't be outspoken because she's not of the same class as her cousins. How would you like being told every single day how lucky you are to be allowed to live in this mansion when you really deserve to live in a shack? Because Edmund is the only decent one she soon develops a school girl-type crush on him.
Once this background information is laid, the bulk of the book is about how a brother and sister pair, Henry and Mary Crawford, affect all the members of this family. Henry catches the eye of one of Fanny's cousins, one that is engaged...and once she's married Henry decides to pursue Fanny instead. Mary catches Edmund's eye, but is disappointed in his salary potential when she discovers he wishes to be a pastor. A little materialistic? Yes. Everyone (and their dog) are shocked that Fanny dismisses the attentions of Henry Crawford...after all, he is rich! That's all you should consider in a life partner, right? Riiiiiight. But, Henry's morals are askew and Fanny knows it. In fact, later Henry has an affair with the engaged (and then married) cousin after Fanny's rejection. Mary does her brother's dirty work and tries to keep this affair as quiet as possible, but does not display any feelings of impropriety at the lovers' actions. This turns Edmund's affections southward despite the fact that he knows a marriage with her would be impossible after this scandal.
Essentially, the entire family is distraught between this scandal and a couple of other side stories (a sickness and desperate elopement on the other cousin's parts). In the end, Edmund discovers his true love for Fanny and they marry, much to Fanny's glee.
This book is...OK. If you have a chance to read it quickly over a short period of time, I would suggest reading it that way. Perhaps on a couple long plane rides. But, spreading it out over a period of time...it got dull for me, which then caused me to take longer to finish. You have to read 5-10 pages to get back into the story each time, otherwise it's pretty dry writing. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 6 because the story is good...it's just getting into the story that takes a while.