I’ve been reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have a difficult time recommending it, since it is among the least liked of Austen’s novels. I’m reading it for the 3rd or 4th time and really enjoying it. It is the story of Fanny Price, a poor niece growing up with a wealthy family. She is quiet, moral, and sensitive. Many people hate her.
At the same time, I’m watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre, which I got for Christmas. I couldn’t help but compare Fanny and Jane, both in degraded positions in a wealthy household, both strong in their morals, and careful to make their way as best they can. But everyone loves Jane Eyre and belittles poor Fanny.
I am seeing with this reading that Fanny has a quiet strength that pulls her through all the difficulties of her life. She has a meekness that serves her well in everyday situations, but doesn’t succumb to the will of those who are stronger when she knows her position is correct. Besides, Aunt Norris is a deliciously horrid character, providing many laughs along the way.
Give Mansfield Park a try and see if you agree.