Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, January 06, 2014

Some Mansfield Park reads to keep in mind

Last year, Jane Austen fans had a year long celebration of Pride & Prejudice,due to it's bicentennial anniversary and for 2014, we have another reason to rejoice as it's the 200th birthday of Mansfield Park which is considered the most controversial of the lot.

While many of debates surrounding MP are about politics(social and otherwise) and morality, the main bone of contention is found with Fanny Price, the quiet heroine of the story. Many find Fanny's internal struggles and low key nature to be rather off-putting while others see the inner strength of her character shining through the follies of her relations.

For that reason most of all, Austen themed fiction that focuses on Mansfield Park is not as abundant as P&P is, or even Sense and Sensibility(Persuasion,my personal favorite,does have a respectable number of modernized/re-imagined/sequel books there). However, there are some and I will be reading them throughout the year and if you'd like to follow along, here is my list of Mansfield Park themed novels to explore:

 EDMUND BERTRAM'S DIARY: Author Amanda Grange has a whole series of  Austen themed diaries that tell those familiar tales from the point of view of the major male characters and I'm really looking forward to see what insights into Fanny's beloved cousin can be found.

Many people find Edmund to be annoying but his flaws make him that much more endearing, I find. Yes, he does delude himself into thinking Mary Crawford is a far better person that she truly is but what young person in love is not prone to that at one time or another?

 Edmund's charms are strong enough to earn him the love of more than one woman and seeing how he came to realize the true worth of his dear Fanny will be a journey worth taking as well as turning the pages for:

THE MATTERS AT MANSFIELD: This is part of Carrie Bebris' Mr & Mrs. Darcy mystery series which means that several P&P characters are on board here, including Lady Catherine and her daughter Anne.

 Lady Catherine is bound and determined to marry her only child off to a wealthy nobleman but her girl has some gumption as it turns out and runs off with another man. Since this book is subtitled "The Crawford Affair", I do believe you know who that particular fellow is.

Yes, it's Henry Crawford who still has a penchant for seducing engaged ladies and who winds up at the wrong end of a pistol during a duel. More than meets the eye is going on and fortunately,the Darcys are in fine detective mode to save the day and the honor of Anne DeBourgh. This will be a reread for me but don't despair of this if you haven't read any of Bebris' books before. All you need to know is that Henry Crawford is trouble with a good looking grin attached to it:

MURDER AT MANSFIELD PARK: Lynn Shepard's suspense story has two of the leading ladies of MP switch roles,as Fanny Price in this book is an arrogant heiress while Mary Crawford bears the brunt of her neighbor's ill will.

When Fanny is found dead in a manner that decries foul play, it is Mary who embarks upon the path to solving the mystery with a rather dubious cohort along for the ride. Since many MP readers would prefer Mary to be the true heroine of the story(and I will admit,she does have an engaging wit and way with words), this alternative universe version of the book should be interesting to check out.

Myself, I enjoy seeing Mary Crawford as one of the villains of this piece but changing things up can be quite illuminating in more ways than one:

MANSFIELD PARK REVISITED: Joan Aiken,who has written a number of Austen sequels, took up where the original book leaves off and sends a newly married Fanny and Edmund off to the Caribbean,leaving younger sister Susan Price at MP to take up the role of companion to Lady Bertram.

Susan does run into the Crawfords and has her other Bertram relations to deal with and she is more than equal to the challenge. Since Susan is a livelier character and was meant to replace Fanny at Lady B's side anyway,this set-up sounds quite suitable indeed.

I personally wouldn't mind a sequel that showcases the deeper love between Fanny and Edmund,a passion based on a lifelong friendship, but I do not despair of seeing that come to life in any literary form-stranger things have happened!:

 My own contribution to further Mansfield Park adventures,entitled Fanny Price,Slayer of Vampires, is due to arrive next month and I only hope that my attempt to amuse other Austen fans with a warrior maiden version of Fanny is agreeable to as many of her admirers as possible.

 In the mean time, we can all find something worth talking about in regards to Mansfield Park in 2014 and one fun topic might be the hope of another film version(my preference is for the 1983 BBC miniseries) that will capture the true spirit of the story. At the very least, Fanny should inspire a few new looks at her world and maybe a new friendship or two along the way:


Ceri said...

I haven't read any Mansfield Park-inspired stories so far, but reread the original last year, so it's pretty fresh in my mind. Personally I don't mind Fanny Price, but I can see why she's less attractive to a modern audience than other Austen heroines.

I bought Murder in Mansfield Park a while ago, and I have the Joan Aiken one too, so since it's the anniversary I should definitely try and read one or both of these this year.

Good luck with your book :)

lady t said...

Thanks,Ceri-I'm borrowing all of my intended MP themed reads and hope you enjoy the ones you have on hand.

I do recommend The Matters at Mansfield and any other of the Carrie Bebris mysteries(if you haven't read them already),they're really good.