Mansfield Park: A mature but, for us, challenging novel by Jane Austen

As a poor cousin, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park is often excluded from her cousins fun and freedoms but ultimately also from the disgrace and ruin that their training in self-gratification wins them.

Of all Jane Austen’s heroines, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park is surely the least appealing, the most ‘foreign’ to our age. Unlike Emma’s assertiveness and Lizzy’s humour, Fanny’s combination of self-effacement and moral conviction are at odds with modern core values. Yet Mansfield Park is a beautifully crafted and mature novel and by the second half Fanny is also coming into her own. I love this novel for its exploration of integrity, self-control and character, family relationships and how our upbringings shape us. A beautiful, thoughtful and through-provoking novel that has the potential to stretch us where we are weak and reactive.

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