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Summary

At the tender age of 10, Fanny Price is 'adopted' by her rich relations and is removed from the poverty of her home in Portsmouth to the opulence of Mansfield Park. The transplantation is not a happy one. Dependent, helpless, neglected and forgotten, Fanny struggles to come to terms with her new life until, tested almost to the limits of endurance, she assumes her righful role...

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Public Domain (P)1995 Naxos Audiobooks

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A reluctant Janeite not reluctant any more.

I was what you might call a reluctant Janeite. I suspect there are a lot of us out there, especially among us men. From being force-fed ‘Emma’ in sixth-form I was in denial - I recognised the writer’s quality without properly seeing that her stories are more than just tales of closed societies of young idle people wasting their time before being married off. I’ve begun to see to what extent I was wrong, and Mansfield Park has helped greatly with that process.
Even some quite ardent lovers of Jane Austen have trouble with Mansfield Park, or, more particularly, they have trouble with Fanny Price. She’s not “feisty”; she lacks heroic quality; she’s weak. Broadly, she commits the sin of not being Elizabeth Bennett. These criticisms are true as far as they go, but here’s the thing: the book tells us exactly why and how she’s all this, how she copes with and ultimately overcomes her troubled upbringing and ends the book as a fully-rounded & admirable person.
Here’s a girl, less than healthy, certainly neglected and conceivably abused at home, taken as an act of charity from her parents and placed in a high-class environment already packed with well-to-do, self-assured older children and adults who, with one exception, treat her with anything raging from condescension to disdain to simple ignoring, so that she almost always feels she is only at Mansfield Park on sufferance. Should she ever show “ingratitude” or independence of spirit, there is Mrs Norris to tell her how lucky she is to be among such superior society at all. If at any time she receives what seems to be preferential treatment there is always someone to remind her of her lowly status. The only adult who appreciates her is too idle and self-absorbed to be any help, and the only one of the children who supports her becomes neglectful when he falls in love. Is it any wonder that Fanny is less than self-confident?
The story of the book for me is how she acquires her inner strength: as others fail and show their feet of clay she consistently increases in power without ever losing that essential eighteenth and nineteenth century attribute, modesty. And this rise comes organically and feels true, and through this I cannot be one of the anti-Fanny crowd.
For me any weakness in the book comes late. The inevitable marriage feels contrived and even possibly objectionable: maybe another outcome would have been too difficult to pull off without upsetting conservative readers, but this somewhat bolted-on happy ending, while it doesn’t spoil a marvellous book, feels unwanted.

This is a copy of my Goodreads review. I only need to add here that it is read superbly. Oh and that Edmund is what PG Wodehouse would call "a pill"!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stacey
  • Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • 20-09-11

Julliet Stevenson Narrating at her best

Brilliant a joy to listen too, the characters are portraied so well, I could listen to it over and over again

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Juliet Stevenson narrates beautifully!

Any additional comments?

This was my first audiobook after being introduced to audible, and I was not disappointed. Juliet Stevenson reads wonderfully well, and clearly distinguishes between characters. It really brought the book to life. This is not my favourite Austen, as I find the protagonist Fanny Price, a little annoying, but the usual wit and genius shines through nonetheless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Better than some more expensive versions

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this very highly. Jane Austen's characterisation and dialogue are, as always, brilliant, and seem to be particularly effective when read aloud.Since reading circles were a common social activity in J.A.'s time, perhaps she intended this. Juliet Stevenson does full justice to the text. She uses different voices for different characters, which bring out their character beautifully, yet sound quite natural. I am pleasantly surprised, because this is one of the cheapest versions of Mansfield Park, and yet it must be one of the best (I haven't tried the others, but other people's reviews seem to indicate some are not as good).

What other book might you compare Mansfield Park to, and why?

Just as good as Jane Austen's other novels.

Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favourite?

Lady Bertram -I can just picture her laid out on the chaise longue,so outrageously self-absorbed and indolent that she becomes comic..

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but I rationed myself, so I would have it to look forward to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lucy
  • Stockport, United Kingdom
  • 16-04-13

Sparkling wit at its best!

Ah, the wit and wonder of Jane Austen is second to none - many an acerbic observation made me gasp or laugh out loud throughout this, one of my favourite of her books. I think Fanny Price is such a gentle natured girl that she may be in danger of getting overlooked as one of Austen's main characters most deserving of attention.  She is full of both sense and sensitivity and is rather lovely to spend time with!  The other characters are flawed and very human indeed, with foibles a plenty and scandals abounding.  Plenty of opportunity for Austen to get out her claws and hold her mirror up to society. Things have changed since, the scandals may seem tame but the hurts they would cause would still be far reaching even if the consequences very different now. The ending still makes me smile and sigh with relief (trying not to spoil things for future readers too much!) and it is over all too quickly.

Juliet Stevenson's reading of the audio book is excellent with some brilliant voices for the different characters, she certainly sounded like she was having a lot of fun as she was reading it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Boring novel.

Very long, boring novel. I didn't enjoy reading it and I felt I would have never been able to finish it.

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Good narration helps with the weakest Austen novel

This is my least favourite novel by Jane Austen but was better on a second reading; especially helped by the excellent narrator.

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Mansfield Park

Any additional comments?

At first I felt the story started off a bit slow and didn't feel that engaged with the characters. However, as I got into Mansfield Park, I was thoroughly in awe of Austen's insight in development and creation of her characters; especially with that of Fanny, Mary, Henry and Edmund. By the end of the book I was jumping for joy at Fanny's steadfastness to her beliefs and relieved in the resolution of the story and characters themselves. Henry Crawford is the epitome of 'nice guy' syndrome!

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Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful reader

Juliet Stevenson reads at just the right pace and intonation. Her voice is soft and clear. The story is classic Jane Austin with the clear hints at feminism and the inferior position of women. The end, although predictable, is worth waiting for with not a few surprises on the way.

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Classic

Not perhaps my favourite Austen, but brought to life by the lively and intelligent reading of the ever delightful Juliet Stevenson.

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  • Neil Chisholm
  • 05-02-12

Oh such felicity, such gaiety, such rapture!

I had read this book before but many years ago and like so many others knew Jane Austen from Pride and Prejudice and more from the tv series than reading the book. However, Jane is at her most observational in this book - characters are so real that they are recognisable from people we know today and she is also at her most cynical - the wit is brilliant. Its a fantastic book and Juliet Stevenson is masterly in her narration. If I could have given it six stars I would have done!

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Ilana
  • 22-10-11

Comments from a Jane Austen Novice

From the many reviews I've read, I know this novel isn't that popular among Jane Austen fans, most finding the heroine Fanny Price to be too much of a wallflower for a lead character. To me it seemed like she was on the contrary a young woman of conviction with a strong moral fiber, who seemed to have more depth than the leading young women in the other two novels I've read by Jane Austen (S&S and P&P), which I found too frothy for my liking. The secondary characters were very entertaining; indeed, their presence was essential in moving the story forward and providing plenty of spice and drama. Excellent performance by Juliet Stevenson, who is one of my favourite narrators.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Cyd
  • 21-11-11

Jane Austen and Juliet Stevenson

If you like Jane Austen you can't do better than Juliet Stevenson. She manages all of the characters' voices, including the men' and the narrator's, providing a dramatic yet sensitive reading catching what we might imagine was Austen's own voice. Each time I listen to one of the books I hear a new line or thread in the narration that I didn't catch before. Love them all.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sheryl A
  • 29-03-09

Well read and Well edited

An exceptional narration and abridgement of a classic. But I bought it because of the narrator Juliette Stevenson.....superb.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane
  • 07-10-11

classic, great narrator, long...

Well, it's a classic. I love this type of story so it appeals to me right up front. This narrator is the best at this type of story. Just only negative is it's so long and somewhats meanders so much that I almost quit out of boredom but then it would pick up again. Descriptions are wonderful - I like listening to it.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Erica
  • 04-02-13

People tend to come down hard on Fanny...

I actually really enjoyed this book. There are a number of reviews where people harp on the frailty of Fanny Price and her timid nature. While, she is no Elizabeth Bennett... I do think there is something to be said about the true soul of Miss Price. She lives in a world where she has been told again & again that her station was beneath those around her. Wouldn't being sent away from parents and siblings to a world of fashion and elegance where people make sure you know that you are inferior and should be grateful of EVERYTHING could make one want to blend into the background? I think that Henry Crawford starting his attentions just to relieve boredom by making her fall in love with him and then falling in love with her because of her nature and how different it is to those around her. I'm ashamed to say that I watched the 1999 movie before reading the book. I like the relationship with her brother; who is not in the movie at all. But, I prefer that Edmund seems to love Fanny all along in the movie rather then the original story of disappointment in Mary showing him the benefit of Fanny. Still, it's worth the credit.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dawnmichelle
  • 27-09-10

A great book of a girl comming of age.

A well spoken narrator reads this book with the upmost perfection. "A timless classic"

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Shelly M. Felton
  • 27-08-12

Fanny Price, ugh!

Juliet Stevenson's narration is superb in all the audiobooks I've listened to, but even her skill cannot lift Mansfield Park to the heights of Pride and Prejudice. Fanny Price is a drip! Edmund is a doofus! The story is a treadmill of reiteration! But if you feel compelled to read Mansfield Park anyway, this edition is the best I've heard. For those not familiar with Jane Austen's works I recommend Northanger Abbey. It's goofy on purpose.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gretchen SLP
  • 21-02-17

Austen's Cinderella Tale

This was a surprisingly fun and addictive book, and after about the first 1/3 of the story, once Fanny had grown past her childhood miseries, I ended up looking forward to every opportunity to listen. I say "surprising" because when I read this book years ago during my English-major days, I thought I quite disliked it. Fanny is the Austen heroine most generally looked down upon by readers (even Austen fans) due to her low self-confidence, her physical weakness, and her general (as modern readers often judge it) insipidity. The professor of our Austen seminar described the novel as Austen's most experimental, a kind of Rorschach test in which Fanny serves as a "blank center" around which all other characters swirl, and upon whom they each project their own ideas of what Fanny is, or what she ought to be.

This listen, I came up with a new theory. I think this is Austen's Cinderella story, a cynical and biting portrayal of a plausible (for its time) rags-to-riches tale. And I think Austen fleshes out this story, and makes it so much more than a fairy tale, by incorporating a deep exploration of the theme of the ultimate loneliness of the individual--the way in which no one human being ever fully knows (or, often, even understands the first thing about) another person's mind, urges, motivations, true thoughts or feelings.

For all of you Harry Potter fans out there, an unexpected benefit to reading/listening to this book is that you will finally come to understand why nasty, nosey and insinuating Hogwarts caretaker Filch named his borderline-evil cat "Mrs. Norris."

Juliet Stevenson's more than sublime reading makes this an A+ listen.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Allan
  • 14-03-17

Stevenson is an absolute genius as a reader

Where does Mansfield Park (Naxos Edition) rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is fast becoming my favorite audiobook of all time. I tend to pick books based as much on the narrator as the book, since I do enjoy reading quite a lot as well. Stevenson reads all the voices so wonderfully and distinctly. She is a joy. Her Mrs. Norris makes my blood run cold.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I am a huge Austen fan and have read the big six novels many, many times. I will defend Fanny Price to my last breath.

What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She has a wonderful sense of the characters and she understands English accents and class differences: Tom Bertram's Bertie Wooster-esque slang and bravado, Mr. Rushworth's slow, insipid manner, Mary Crawford's arch, seductive voice. It's all so well done. I've listened to it twice now and I am sure it will get dragged out again for long car trips, etc.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

One of my favorite moments in the book is the scene between Fanny Price and Sir Thomas in the East Room where he notices that she doesn't have a fire. It always gets me and Stevenson does such a marvelous job with it, using a light touch.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend the novel and this reading of it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful