Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Conclusion


Welcome to Week 4 of the Mansfield Park read-along! If you aren't familiar with the details, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss the final part of the book: chapters 6-17 (Volume III). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Mansfield Park Volume III: Chapters 6-17

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "[Mrs. Norris] must say that she had more than half a mind to go with the young people....William and Fanny were horror-struck at the idea." [Haha! I just love that the second line there is its own paragraph; nothing else need be said regarding Mrs. Norris's grand scheme. At least William and Fanny are spared in the end!]
  • "[Mrs. Price's] days were spent in a kind of slow bustle; always busy without getting on, always behindhand and lamenting it, without altering her ways." [I feel like I could take this as a cautionary note for myself.]
  • "It was really March; but it was April in its mild air, brisk soft wind, and bright sun, occasionally clouded for a minute, and every thing looked so beautiful under the influence of such a sky, the effects of the shadows pursuing each other, on the ships at Spithead and the island beyond, with the ever-varying hues of the sea now at high water, dancing in its glee and dashing against the ramparts with so fine a sound..." [Lovely descriptions. ♥]
  • "The woman who could speak of him, and speak only of his appearance!—What an unworthy attachment!"
  • "There is nothing like employment, active, indispensable employment, for relieving sorrow."
  • "All this together most grievously convinced me that I had never understood her before, and that, as far as related to mind, it had been the creature of my own imagination, not Miss Crawford, that I had been too apt to dwell on for many months past." [*gives standing ovation*]
  • "[Tom] became what he ought to be, useful to his father, steady and quiet, and not living merely for himself." [I just love that last part!]
  • "They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice."
  • "Nobody minds having what is too good for them." :)

General Impressions

A big part of this section is spent at the Price home, which is quite a bit different than all the time at Mansfield Park leading up to it! I feel bad for Fanny, returning to her family only to see how very little her parents regard her, how chaotic her childhood home has become, and how she no longer seems to belong. But a blessing does arise from those uncomfortable months: a closer relationship with her sister Susan. :)

The book becomes semi-epistolary for a while, focused on the letters being sent to Fanny from Miss Crawford and then Lady Bertram. And finally...finally...Mr. Crawford shows his true colors for the whole world (especially Sir Thomas and Edmund) to see. Not that it's a happy situation in the slightest, but I'm happy for Fanny, that Mr. Crawford didn't continue pursuing her and eventually win her, only to run off with someone after their marriage or torture Fanny by openly flirting with other women. :(

And Miss Crawford's true colors are displayed for Edmund to see too. Phew! As sad as it is for Edmund to realize he's spent all this time falling in love with someone who didn't really exist (not in the way he believed her to be), it's a relief that everything is out in the open.

So much is covered in that last chapter, isn't it? In some ways, I'm quite satisfied. I love the lessons tucked into certain characters' stories, like how Tom "was the better for ever for his illness" ("he had suffered, and he had learnt to think, two advantages that he had never known before") and how "education had not given [Julia] so very hurtful a degree of self-consequence" (as it had for Maria; how differently Fanny in her humility had grown up to be!).

Of course, I'm also happy for Fanny and Edmund. (I especially love that sweet paragraph about the friendship formed between Sir Thomas and Fanny!) But it's hard to completely love Edmund as a romantic hero, because for almost the whole novel he very clearly sees Fanny as a sister and has romantic feelings for another woman who does not share his morals. I wish we could get more of a glimpse into the transformation of his feelings...to not just know but actually see Edmund regarding Fanny in a new light and realizing how much he loves her.

I like the conclusion of their story, but it feels somewhat abrupt to go from the last line of chapter 16 ("Fanny's friendship was all that he had to cling to") to the account in chapter 17. While the timing is fine in how it's told (Edmund takes a while to grieve and figure out his own mind, falling in love with Fanny as he spends more time with her), it would be nice to have some actual scenes of them growing closer together. Perhaps that's not the main point, but still. :) Especially since Edmund spent so much of the book completely misunderstanding Fanny's feelings for him, for Mr. and Miss Crawford, etc.!

All in all, I enjoyed the story and seeing how everything turned out. It's not a favorite of mine, but it's an interesting book with interesting characters!

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Do you think Fanny's home and family had changed a lot since she left when she was a girl, or do you think Fanny was the one who changed the most?

2. Just for fun: What sort of conclusion would you give to Susan's story if you were to write a sequel/epilogue for her?

3. Which character's growth or consequences (as described in the last chapter) brought you the most satisfaction?

Final Note

As always, it was so fun to read a Jane Austen book with you, my blog friends! You provided so many great insights and thoughts, and I'm grateful for all your comments and posts. :)

Before you go, I'd love to hear your responses to the following, if you'd care to share:
  • Of the Jane Austen books you've read so far, how would you rank them in order of preference?
  • If you've seen an adaptation of Mansfield Park, which one(s) did you see and how did you like it/them in comparison with the book?
The next read-along I plan to host will be for Sense & Sensibility, and I hope it will include a watch-along too! I haven't entirely decided on the month...but maybe keep an eye out for the announcement sometime this spring. :) 

I also ran a poll on Twitter to get an idea for what books we could read together after Sense & Sensibility, and it seems like L.M. Montgomery's stories are a popular choice. So perhaps we'll need to do a read-along of Anne of the Island and/or Emily of New Moon later this year! 

12 comments:

lona manning said...

Earlier I mentioned the scenes that Austen wrote placed at Sotherton, where Fanny watches Henry Crawford flirting with Maria, and then the play, where Henry has a chance to rehearse with Maria, and she falls in love with him and thinks he is going to "declare himself" when her father comes home. Then she marries Mr. Rushworth out of spite. Unusually in a novel, the big climax -- Henry and Maria running off together -- is told at a distance. We hear about it in letters to Fanny at Portsmouth. So that's what makes the earlier scenes so important. This isn't my brilliant observation, it's from David Shapard's "Annotated Mansfield Park."

lona manning said...

Which variation of Mansfield Park? The best one is the 1983 mini series. It is true to the book. The two more recent versions change Fanny from being a meek, Christian heroine to being a feisty little rebel. And that changes the entire idea of the book. But the producers or writers of the movies figured that no-one today would like a meek, humble heroine.

lona manning said...

British novelist Joan Aiken wrote a Mansfield Park sequel that features Susan Price. "Mansfield Park Revisited."

Julie said...

Amber, I have absolutely loved reading along with you and Miranda(haven't seen anyone else's posts). I don't think that Mansfield was a big favorite for any of us, but it is fun to commiserate with each other over the characters! Mrs. Norris!!!! That woman *shakes head*

My post is up on my blog: https://myfavoritepastime.blogspot.com/2018/01/mansfield-park-read-along-conclusion.html

I finished the book a few days early and then got out the movie. The version I have is the BBC version from 1986. It followed the book very well and gave a bit more clarity to some parts. The actress who portrayed Lady Bertram was excellent! Oh my goodness...she had her character down perfectly! I haven't seen any other version so wouldn't be able to compare. I prefer the movie follow the book as closely as possible so that is why I'm not a big fan of the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice as it just doesn't stay true to the book. Anywho...

Thank you so much for hosting us and I really really look forward to reading Sense and Sensibility with y'all! It too is another favorite. If I had to rank the ones I have read so far Pride and Prejudice is at the top of the list. Annnnddddd, I can't remember the other ones we have read! Ack! Northanger Abby was in there. Did we read Emma together? Oh my! My memory is sad. So let's say Pride and Prejudice, Emma and then even though we haven't read Sense and Sensibility yet that will be my 3rd choice. They are all the more popular books I guess so have been read more and viewed more in movie form.

Excellent post as always! Loved your quotes you chose and your thoughts on the last chapters. Thanks again for hosting us!

Julie

Carissa Miller said...

My Jane Austen book preference in order for those that I've read so far are: Persuasion, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield.

Amber Holcomb said...

Lona,

Thank you for sharing! :) That's so true about the climax taking place "off stage" (and even Fanny's "happily ever after" is retold rather than taking place in "real time"). Definitely makes those earlier scenes and the insights they reveal much more important to note. Thank you for passing along those notes from the annotated version!

Good to know about the more accurate adaptation! It really does change the story to have Fanny be feisty instead of meek... Meekness is such an integral part of her character and informs her actions/reactions/thoughts. Great point!

And how fun that someone wrote a sequel for Susan! Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

Thank you again for your comments and thoughts! It's been great to have you join us. :) Please know you're welcome to visit anytime!

~Amber

lona manning said...

The Susan sequel is written by Joan Aiken, who wrote some wonderful children's books, like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but I am not a big fan of her Austen sequels. I wrote a variation on Mansfield Park, called "A Contrary Wind," where Fanny runs away from home. I think it's good, but, I should mention there are some steamy scenes in it!

Amber Holcomb said...

Julie,

I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the read-along!! It was awesome seeing yours and Miranda's posts and hearing your thoughts along the way. :) A couple others joined us in the comments here and on Twitter, and MovieCritic recently posted her thoughts on the first part of the book: Mansfield Park Read-Along: Part 1. And yes, Mrs. Norris took the "villain" spotlight for this read-along, didn't she? ;)

It's great to get your thoughts on the movie adaptation you watched! I confess I usually don't mind too much if the book and movie are different, as long as the movie is good in its own right. ;) But sometimes it's nice to see them stick close to the book and do a good job!

I'm so looking forward to the Sense & Sensibility read-along, as well! :D I'm happy to hear you like the story, as I was on the same page with you in loving Pride & Prejudice! So far we've done read-alongs for Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. :) We're almost done reading all of Jane Austen's main works together!

Thank you for all your kind words and support, friend! I'm so grateful you always join the read-alongs. :) Your thoughts and enthusiasm mean so much!

~Amber

Amber Holcomb said...

Carissa,

Awesome! So fun to hear which ones you've enjoyed most. :) Persuasion was really good!

Thank you for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber Holcomb said...

Lona,

That's very cool that you tackled the job of writing a sequel/variation to Mansfield Park! :) (The cover is lovely, by the way!) Thank you for sharing about that, as well as your thoughts on the other book/author you mentioned!

~Amber

Miranda Atchley said...

I agree that this isn't one of my favorites, but I do like it nonetheless. :-) My preference in Austen's novels goes:
Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice
Persausion
Northanger Abbey
Mansfield Park
Emma
I love them all, but I do have my favorites! I've watched the 1996 movie of Mansfield Park and enjoyed it. Thanks so much for hosting this read-along, Amber! I can't for the next one! :-)

Amber Holcomb said...

Miranda,

I liked reading Mansfield Park? too! :) And I'm even more eager to read Sense & Sensibility with you and whoever joins us, knowing it's your top pick!

Thank you for participating in these read-alongs! I'm looking forward to the next one too. :)

~Amber