Who wrote this book and when?
Jane Austen, and it was published in 1814.

Has there been a film version?
One film version in 1999 starring Frances O’Conner, and two miniseries. The obligatory BBC version in 1983, and one coming out this year starring the lovely and talented Billie Piper as Fanny.

Who are the important characters?
Fanny Price – a timid but morally sound young woman taken in by her much more wealthy aunt and uncle
Edmund Bertram – the youngest son of Sir and Lady Bertram, he is destined to be a clergyman, he thinks very similarly to Fanny, her dearest friend after William
Tom Bertram – the eldest son of the Bertrams, quite wild
Mrs. Norris – Fanny’s other aunt, the widow of the previous parson of Mansfield Park and very obnoxiously pious and a frightful bossy boots and busybody
Maria Bertram – the eldest of the Bertram girls, engaged to Mr. Rushworth
Julia Bertram – the younger Bertram daughter,
Henry Crawford – the nephew to the new parson for Mansfield Park, a charming bachelor who can also be a womanizer
Miss Mary Crawford – Henry’s sister, a flirtatious and energetic girl who takes an interest in Edmund.
Mr. Rushworth – a very wealthy but not very attractive man who becomes engaged to Maria Bertram
Mr. Yates – one of Tom’s friends
William Price – Fanny’s older brother and her dearest friend

What’s it about?
Fanny Price is taken to live with her aunt and uncle, the Bertrams, in the socially prominent estate of Mansfield Park. Her other aunt, Mrs. Norris, also resides on the grounds, being the widow of the previous parson. With her meek personality and tender heart, Fanny feels awkward and unappreciated. However, Edmund befriends her and the two kindle a deep friendship, with Edmund often being the only guard for Fanny from Mrs. Norris’s spiteful tongue, Lady Bertram’s cluelessness, and Sir Thomas’ stern nature. Also, Edmund is the only one who seems to understand Fanny and support her deep sense of morality. The two Bertram girls are selfish and wild and Tom seems to want nothing but to spend money and have fun. And things become even more complicated when the charming Mr. Henry Crawford and his lovely sister Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their aunt, Mrs. Grant. Henry can’t seem to make up his mind between Julia and Maria Bertram while Mary is determined to win Edmund over enough to dissuade him from being a clergyman. All the while, Fanny is disturbed by her female cousin’s increasingly impolite behaviour and her own growing but unrequited feelings for Edmund.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because it’s a Jane Austen novel. However, it’s her least popular novel.

Do you recommend I read this book?
Ehhhh, if you want to round out your Austen experience, yes. Otherwise, stick to the more popular ones.

How did this book make your list?
I wanted to read all the Austen novels.

Has it won any awards?
Too early published for awards.

Favorite quotes:
“Never had Fanny more wanted cordial.” (alcohol) – p 323

Anything else?
Nope.

Personal thoughts:
I can see why this is Jane Austen’s least popular novel. Boy, does this story drag. I can see it being a film version much better than it being a book. There’s so much introspection on the part of the narrator and Fanny that sometimes reading it felt like it took forever. There was little to no action until the very end when everything seemed to rush to a conclusion. One thing different about this Austen book, however, was the lack of any “villainous” character. Everyone was very realistically human – faults and all – and this included Fanny. I just wish that this hadn’t kept the characters from being boring.

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