Monday, May 11, 2009

Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken

"A lovely read-and you don't have to have read Mansfield Park to enjoy it."-Woman's Own

Perhaps, this was an error of my judgment, reading Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken without having finished Jane Austen's original Mansfield Park but since I did this I found out the above quote to be true. So, I'm sure that has tainted my review. I do realize that you can never properly replace any of Jane Austen's classic novels.
There are three reasons why I was intrigued to go ahead and read this book even though I hadn't read the original; the first being it was a selected for the Jane Austen book group at my library, the second being this quote on the cover of this book but the third and best reason for reading this book is that a personal copy of this book was lent to me by a very nice librarian friend. I had procrastinated checking it out and there wasn't a copy for me to read in the library. I appreciated this kind gesture and so I read the book in just a couple of days in order to get it back to her and attend the book group which I did.
In Mansfield Park Revisited, a 2008 reissue of Aiken's 1985 sequel to Mansfield Park, Fanny Price marries Edmund Bertram and they depart for Antigua on family business. The main character or heroine of this sequel becomes Fanny's younger sister Susan who moves to Mansfield Park as Lady Bertram's new companion. I enjoyed Susan's character even though it was different than what I was expecting. Of course, there are surprises and entanglements to overcome for Susan and in the very end there was a little romance.
Another character that I enjoyed was Tom Bertram. He becomes in charge of family affairs and so Lady Bertram seeks Tom's opinion. He is aggravated by his sister Julia, who is now married to John Yates, who continually meddles in the affairs of the house which consistently becomes more annoying and she is constantly seeking to marry Tom off to her husband's sister.
I think the key to realize is that this book is what it states under its title - A Jane Austen Entertainment. Aiken fairly depicts the ambiance of a Jane Austen novel, although it is more modern which makes it a brisk read. I enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Here is one of my favorite excerpts from pg. 177 of the paperback copy I read from:

While the child watched with wondering eyes, Mary carefully burned her letter, page by page, on the flagstones of the terrace. There! It is all gone into thin air. Now, little one, you must blow the ashes away - puff out your cheeks and blow - so! And when you are an old, old lady, you will remember blowing these pages away and wonder what was written upon them.

201 pages. Reprinted, 2008. My rating: 3.5 stars (I think I'll start rating the books I've read from now on.)

Amanda's insights in her review of this book can be found here or here.


Amanda said...

I think I would have enjoyed this book better if I'd read it prior to Mansfield Park. Then, I wouldn't have known about the character manipulations and stuff. It was fun though even after MP.

Julie said...

When I'm able to focus long enough to read Mansfield Park all the way through, I'm sure I'll see what you mean. For now, it made it entertaining that I couldn't see it. :)

Contemplations of Reader said...

Thank you for the nod Julie! It's nice to know I'm a "nice librarian friend"! :-) I enjoyed the book too even though Fanny in MP was not my favorite character. Susan is much spunkier here and I like that.

hamilcar barca said...

YAY!! another 5-Square reviewer who's giving the books a rating!

L said...

I love what-happens-after-because-I'm-dying-to-know-books that continue the story. Mansfield Park wasn't a favorite of mine so I'm glad this one is better.
Good review!

Julie said...

BookDiva - I liked Susan too.
Hamilcar - I knew you'd like it if I started rating books. I couldn't decide between letter or star ratings. I went with star ratings due to Good Reads since I took the plunge and joined it.
Lula - I like story continuations as well.
Thanks for reading my review and for the nice comments everyone!