Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

So I was trying to figure out how to review the beginning of Mansfield Park as it is a little different from her other books. It is more like Sense and Sensibility with a bit of a backstory on the three sisters, Fanny’s mom and aunts.

Hmm…

The more I thought of it, the more it made me think of a fairy tale opening, I mean you have three sisters that only one marries well-it kind of made me think of the folktale The Three Sisters, Cinderella, One Eyes, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes, etc. So that is how I am going to treat this-like a fairy tale.

Our story starts many years ago (thirty to be exact): Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls: a Miss Ward, a Miss Maria Ward, and a Miss Frances Ward. These ladies were lovely, but unfortunately:

The second sister married first, and had the extreme luck to catch the eye of a Baronet, Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park. The two married and she became Lady Maria Bertram.

Lady Bertram exalted in her success, a lady! Such an elevated status was a beautiful thing to behold!

Her family were in sweet felicitations over the event as well, especially her older and younger sister who hoped that such a marriage would also give them their own happily ever after. Unfortunately, this is not that type of story.

The other two of these sisters were so unlucky that nothing ever succeeded with them, the eldest, Miss Ward, after six years was finally able to win a husband, a Reverend Norris. He was friend of her brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Bertram, and having no fortune, Sir Thomas kindly bestowed the living and parsonage of Mansfield-so that this sister was cared for all her life.

The youngest sister, no less pretty, had the worse luck of all. She married a “lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions[sic],” and became Mrs. Price.

Sir Thomas would have easily done all he could to have helped his brother-in-law (as pride made him wish all in connection to him were of an upstanding position), although his profession was something that he had no easy hand involved in.

But alas, before any such things could have been put into motion, a terrible and destructive row was set up betwixt the sisters. The eldest sister had a thorny heart and her temper was not easily assuaged. She immediately sent forth the most powerful soldier in her arsenal-an angry letter. Lady Bertram thought no longer of her sister-out of sight out of mind-except that Mrs. Price was spurned on by the missile and fired off one of her own.

And as it goes, the sisters were locked in bitterness and the bonds broken betwixt them.

Eleven years passed by and the Prices went further and further into poverty. The Prices had fallen into such poverty that Mrs. Price was faced with the decision of whether to swallow her pride or continue the separation.

Mrs. Price had lived a disheartening and dark life. “A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…” With every passing day she grew more unsure what to do next, how to survive.

She became pregnant with her ninth child, and with this child was born a renewed hope, and she sent a missive to Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, full of “contrition and despondence, such a superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything else, as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation.”

Mrs. Price hoped and prayed they would take one of her sons, any of them and raise them in a wonderful fashion. But instead the choose the eldest girl?

The eldest girl, Fanny, was a lovely and sweet-natured girl. Kind, humble, quiet. Mrs. Price was puzzled at first as why they choose her, but eagerly sent the child on her way.

The new child was quiet, scared, unsure. She would often tuck herself away in the chimney corner to sit quietly.

Her two eldest cousins, Tom and Edmund, were seventeen and sixteen. Tom, the eldest, ignored her, while Edmund looked upon her kindly as any sixteen year-old would look upon a ten year old. The two younger, female cousins were a different story. Maria, thirteen, and Julia, twelve, did everything that they could to make her unhappy. The poor girl, Fanny, bore everything patiently and dared not complain to any.

For more Fanny Price, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

Right Away I Know I Won’t Like You

So as mentioned a few weeks ago, I will be going through the books Northanger Abbey and Persuasion this year as both are celebrating their 200th birthdays (they were published in one book).

I know I already did a post on the beginning of Persuasion, but that was a while back-so I’m starting from the beginning again.

Have you ever had someone you met right away and just know you won’t like them.

They may barely talk, or you just spend five mins with them-and that’s it. You are done. You know you will not like them no matter what.

Well that’s how I feel about Sir Walter Elliot, our main character Anne Elliot’s father.

Why you may ask? Simple:

SIR WALTER ELLIOT, OF KELLYNCH HALL, IN SOMERSETSHIRE, WAS A MAN who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage…”

He doesn’t like to read? Except about himself?

It’s like, what’s wrong with you? How can you not be interested in it? Like who are you?

And to make things worse-Sir Walter, a baron, only reads the Baronetage. That means the only book he likes to read is really about himself and the history of his family.

“…he could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which the favourite volume always opened…”

So doesn’t read and the only thing that interests him is himself?

Ugh

I don’t need to read any more-I know without a doubt that I will not like this self-centered character at all.

But hey that’s okay-it happens there are always those characters you love to dislike.

For more Persuasion, go to You’ve Persuaded My Heart

For more on Sir Walter, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to London Fog Smoothie

Opening With…

Reminds me of Degas

 

So the other day I was reading the beginning of Northanger Abbey and I realized that Jane Austen is the queen of opening lines

Grease Tell Me more

Yep in all her novels she has some of the best opening lines that just pull you into her work and make you want to read on and find out what’s coming next. Check it out!

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1) Sense and Sensibility

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“The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance.”

Right away you pick up on a few key words, had and was.

The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance.”

Immediately we know something dramatically changed this family’s fortune and it probably wasn’t a good thing. Now you’re sucked in and you have to find out what happens next? Why can’t they live there anymore? Who are the Dashwoods?

Suspense

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2) Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

So I actually did a longer post on this, It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged…. But when you read these words, admit you are ready for the adventure of the book.  In fact this hook is one that has continued to be entertaining for ages. I mean that saying never gets old, but constantly draws you in no matter how many times you have read it.

girlieButLoveit BuffyVS

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3) Mansfield Park

“About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.”

Oooh who is this Maria Ward now Maria Bertram? Is she an upstanding lady and we should be happy at her fortune? Or she is a harlot and we hate that she used her charms to win Sir Bertram?

maybe

Either way you are intrigued and want to know more about her and her family.

 

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4) Emma

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

So Emma seems like she is a blessed woman and everything is fine in her life. Or is it?

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

It sounds to me like there is a big ol’ but coming this way and that something going to happen to change her pristine life. What? I don’t know, but now I need to know.

Emma_Buggin

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5) Northanger Abbey

“No one who had ever seen Catherine Moreland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.”

So here we have a girl that has nothing to make her life seem interesting. Pretty bland…but just those words no one “would have supposed her” means that she is going to beat all the odds and have a fantastic story! After all:

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And we can’t wait to read about it!

excited

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6)Persuasion

Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who for his own amusement never took up any book but the Baronetage: there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which the favorite volume always opened: — “ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL. “Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue, Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.”

Yes that paragraph is only two sentences.

zenon zetus lupetos

I know, but the rest of the book isn’t like that. So I’m sure you’re first reaction was what an egotistical man.

Ugh

Ugh men

But this pretty interesting opening. It’s the only Jane Austen book that doesn’t open about a woman or a family, but instead focuses on a man. Very different.  And we see that he has three daughters, Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary. So that begs the question which girl is this book going to focus on? Or will it be about all three?

Hmm

Hmm

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You’ll just have to read them to find out the end

Readmoreimportant

After all:

answerabook

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For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to First Impressions

For more on Mansfield Park, go to Part IX: Adventures in Movie Lines

For more on Emma, go to It’s All Jane Austen’s Fault

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Part VIII: The Little Movie Line List

For more on Persuasion, go to Part VI: It Was Said One Night

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For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, go to You Can’t Have Just One

For more on Downton Abbey, go to That’s What You Get

For more on Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, go to Friday Night Fun

For more of my favorite quotes, go to A Little Bit of Love

For more book loving posts, go to You’re Doing It Wrong