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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.   

This Penguin Classic is performed by Pippa Bennett-Warner. Pippa has recently starred in the BBC Drama MotherFatherSon alongside Richard Gere and has featured in Harlots and Sick Note. This definitive recording includes an introduction by Kathryn Sutherland.  

Taken from the poverty of her parents' home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank, and with her cousin Edmund Bertram as her sole ally. When her uncle Sir Thomas Birtram travels to Antigua, siblings Mary and Henry Crawford arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.   

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was extremely modest about her own genius but has become one of English literature's most famous women writers. Austen began writing at a young age, embarking on what is possibly her best-known work, Pride and Prejudice, at the age of 22. She was the author of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma,Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. If you enjoyed Mansfield Park, you may like Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, also available in Penguin Classics.

Public Domain (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Mansfield Park

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  • Verre
  • 04-01-21

Excellent, apart from the introduction!

I chose this audio edition based on how much I liked the narration in the sample, but when I first started listening, I was initially annoyed to discover that for the first hour the narrator races through the introductory essay in a breathless monotone. As the essay went on and on, exploring nuances of characters and plot points with which I was completely unfamiliar (not having yet read the book), I began to wonder why such essays are conventionally placed at the *beginning* of books. They would be much more useful at the end, at which point we would be better able to follow the arguments, having acquired the necessary familiarity with characters and plot points being expounded upon.

As the essay droned on for over and hour, I eventually realized that I was actually *grateful* for the speed and efficiency with which the narrator was racing through this introductory text, because it really wasn't going to do me any good. Having not yet read the novel, I could not verify from experience any of the textual evidence being cited to support the various points, and worse, all the references to characters and events became an irritating source of spoilers! I was even tempted to skip the introductory essay, but I decided to just ride it out.

Finally -- after around 70 minutes or so -- the introductory essay concluded and the actual novel began. At that point the narrator slowed down her pace and gave the text her full attention, and she did it wonderful service. The characters were all enlivened by distinct and appropriate voices and intonations, and the story unfolded in a way that was engaging and well-structured. I'm not very familiar with Jane Austen as a writer: I've seen some films, but this is the first of her novels that I've "read." I enjoyed it very much and will listen to more of her novels in the future.

In retrospect, I would have lost nothing by skipping the introductory essay. I might have enjoyed it had it been placed after the main text as an *epilogue*, but putting such texts as an introduction seems misguided. I suppose in written texts it's a little easier to skip back and forth, but audio books probably ought to rethink the purpose and placement of such "introductions." However, the novel itself was perfectly narrated and entirely satisfying, and I'm glad I chose this audio edition.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Cait Guyette
  • 05-04-20

Interesting but disappointing

3.5 stars
I've found myself re/reading all of Jane Austen's novels in the order in which they were published and was quite surprised by Mansfield Park. I have seen and very much enjoyed the 1999 film adaptation, but I have discovered it does not strictly follow the book.
Mansfield Park is not what is expected of an Austen novel but it is very fascinating social commentary of the time. In that way there is not a tremendous amount of plot which can make it seem to drag a bit (more so at the beginning). I think the main thing for me is that I don't particularly *like* Fanny Price which is a big change from Austen's great heroines of the Bennett and Dashwood sisters, etc. Those women are in less than desirable situations but all have qualities and strength which ends up lifting them from these situations and end up making them happy. Fanny Price is from the poor branch of a family and goes to live with her wealthy aunt, uncle, and cousins. She is put down and disparaged nearly her entire life (and book) as less than purely because she is the product of a less than desirable marriage. This obviously makes her very shy, self-conscious, and timid. The part I don't like is that this deference to everyone and her feeling of unworthiness is what ends up making her so liked by the men in the story - the rich uncle and her cousin, Edmund, who she is in love with (also ick). She is physically weak (because of her inferior birth obvs) and is painfully awkward. She has spent her time improving herself with reading instead of more lavish activities the spoiled cousins are indulged with, but she, and Edmund, are very judgemental of anything outside of their purview. Fanny is also rather two-faced and jealous, but those things never come back to haunt her as everyone else's flaws do. It is literally not until the last paragraph that Edmund thinks of Fanny as anything other than a sister and with little reasoning behind it or much revelation of how Edmund has come around to agree with Fanny's inner hopes. Perhaps as the author of some of the best heroines ever written my expectations were too high. Mansfield Park is an interesting and entertaining study in social satire which I will certainly be thinking about for a while, but it is a story that I found difficult to be invested in.