Mad about Mansfield Park

So back in 2013 I had this idea that I would reread all the Austen novels, starting with Pride and Prejudice as it was turning 200. I thought it would take me only like a year to read through each one, writing a post on any little thing or thought that came to mind while writing. In my timeline, I’d be halfway through Persuasion. 

Uh, yeah. It didn’t happen. Life got in the way.

So then I adapted. Instead I would do the first four chapters of Pride and Prejudice, then Sense and Sensibility, then Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. 

Great idea!

I finished up Pride & Prejudice in November 2014, and then moved onto the first four chapters of Sense and Sensibility  in December 2014.

I finished up the four chapters in March 2015 and then moved onto Emma, skipping Mansfield Park (sorry), as it was Emma’s 200th year.

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Then that’s where we ran through another snafu. Life got in the way and I am still currently finishing up the first four chapters of Emma. 

Oh no!

Yes, problems arose last year-the 100th anniversary of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I took a break from Emma to work on Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I planned to work on both throughout the year. Great plan, right?

Yeah, that didn’t work out either.

Oops!

So this year, I was little lost and decided why not do all three? I’ll be doing the first four chapters of Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, instead of making them wait.

But then I started thinking about Mansfield Park. Poor Mansfield Park, you’ve become like your main character Fanny Price-forgotten, ignored, seen as not as important, witty, or powerful. Poor little Mansfield Park.

And I decided that I am going to throw it into the mix as well. Yep, all four books out at once!

Yes, Lady Catherine be darned-this stubborn gal has them all out at once!

So thanks for putting up with my lengthy intro, now onto the (mostly) serious part. Mansfield Park like Northanger Abbey gets very little love. Mostly because people think Fanny is “boring” and “spineless”.

But Fanny isn’t boring or spineless. Mansfield Park is a great book and Fanny is a fantastic character! Fanny is a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, and was sent to stay with them. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “less” because of the “bad blood” inherited from the low class, wastrel father her mother married down to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

While she is humble and kind, she is not timid or spineless. When push comes to shove, she can out-stubborn Elizabeth Bennet.

So if you haven’t read it, I would start reading it-you won’t be sorry.

Or you can follow me as I journey through Mansfield Park and the books/films based on it.

Books:

Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE edited by Christina Boyd

Mansfield Park Cloth Book by Little Literary Classics
Edmund Bertram’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes #4) by Amanda Grange

Mansfield Ranch (The Jane Austen Diaries #5) by Jenni James

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampires by Tara O’Donnell & Stephanie O’Donnell

Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights (Supernatural Jane Austen Series #1) by Vera Nazarian & Jane Austen

Central Park (Austen Series #3) by Debra White Smith

Movies:

Anna Karenina (1948)

If you have noticed the lack of Mansfield Park gifs, memes, images, etc.-it’s hard to find them. I wasn’t kidding when I said the world treats it like how the Bertram’s treated Fanny.

Sad really.

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

For more Fanny Price, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Candy Girls

I don’t know about you all, but I have been eating a lot of Halloween candy, in fact too much.

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But as I continued to eat, it made me think…what if the Jane Austen heroines lived in today’s world? What kind of candy would they eat?

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So I thought on it, and this is what I came up with.

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Elinor is the eldest of the Dashwood sisters and when her father dies, causing them to lose everything to entailment and have to live on less money, she rakes control in searching for a new home. After the move when it is clear that her mother is still sick with grief and her two younger sisters lack the age and temperament for such matters, Elinor takes over running the house and trying to work out a way for them to live on their budget. As Elinor is the champion of saving and surviving, I think that if she were to purchase a sweet she would try to make it something that is cheap and easy to share. Therefore a Kit Kat seemed the most likely choice for her. Kit Kats are easy on the wallet and designed to be evenly split between four, the exact number of Elinor’s family.

For more on Elinor Dashwood, go to To Edward or Not to Edward?

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To me I see Marianne as a Chocolate Truffle. We know how romantic she is, so of course she is going to not only want chocolate, but something more than the average fare. Being raised rich, a truffle is something she would be used to eating, and then when their finances change, she would still be able to eat a few cheaper ones, every now and then.

I can just see her and Colonel Brandon and her reading poetry and eating truffles after they are married.

For more on Marianne Dashwood, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

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NOw contrary to the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, the Bennets are not poor. They are lower than Darcy as his Aunt is in line for the throne (a LOT of people have to die first but still), Emma Woodhouse, and Anne Elliot (prior to her father losing so much money). They are slightly under the Dashwoods, so they are pretty well off. Not super rich, but doing well. Therefore I think that Elizabeth would pick something in between. Not super rich, but a little more high class than something you can buy at the corner drugstore.

Therefore I think that she would pick the See’s Lollipops. See’s candy isn’t super expensive, but not something you can find just anywhere, sometimes you have to travel a bit to get it. Plus as she is a walker, I see her with a lollipop as she can eat it and go.

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to The Ugly Truth

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Now Fanny we all know was born into a large, less fortunate family. She is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle, the Bertrams; and abused by her other Aunt Norris. Mr. Bertram isn’t really in her life as he is always having to go away on business or not interested in child rearing; Mrs. Bertram is also not really checked in. So the person who raises her is Aunt Norris who never wants her to forget she is poor; giving her extra work, never allowing her to do things with the other kids, playing the two eldest sisters off of her and encouraging their bullying. So if I had to pick a candy, the only one I think Aunt Norris would allow her to have would be mints or gum. Both are extremely cheap and what she would think as suitable for her poorer relation.

I think out of anything she would only buy Orbit as it doesn’t last long and falls apart the more you chew it. But just like Fanny’s personality and actions have her end with a better life than her cousins, chewing gum rather than eating other candy would give her a better smile and oral hygiene.

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

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Emma is the richest out of all the Austen heroines. She doesn’t worry about money, she has one of the highest places in their local society; so what would be the perfect candy for her? Only one thing came to mind, GodivaGodiva is one of the most expensive chocolatiers and just perfect for someone like Emma who is used to having the best. The only issue she would face would be whether or not her hypochondriac father would allow her to eat it, or his fear of illness taking her away  would make him not want it in the house. Otherwise, Godiva would be Emma’s go to.

For more on Emma Woodhouse, go to The Austen Series: Amanda

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As a child Catherine was very active in sports, climbing trees, running, etc; a tomboy. In that stage I see her as a bubblegum chewer (like Bazooka), however as she grows older her taste change to reading, especially Gothic, Romantic fiction. With that new take, I don’t see her as a gum chewer, but having moved on to something that pairs better with her reading, chocolate covered strawberries. Not only are these romantic, but something that will fit within Catherine’s budget as they are not too expensive, as her family isn’t super wealthy, especially if you make them yourself. Yes the perfect pair to Catherine and all the harrowing tales she loves to read.

For more on Catherine Morland, go to Storybook Ending: Northanger Abbey (2007)

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Like Elinor, when Anne realizes how her father and sister are just blowing through their money, she begins to economize. And that is why when I think of what candy she would buy and eat, I think of Ghiradelli. While Ghiradelli isn’t the most expensive chocolate out there, it is classier than Hershey’s or Snickers; yet at the same time is cheap enough that it is something Anne would be willing to spend her money to snack on. It is that perfect blend that fits this once rich girl. Anne also strikes me as a dark chocolate and sea salt type of girl, of which Ghiradelli can provide.

For more on Anne Elliot, go to A Letter of Love: Persuasion (2007)

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For more Austen mashups, go to Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose: Superbowl 50

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to A World of Teas

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Meet Cute: Darcy & Elizabeth Style

For more Mansfield Park, go to It’s Always Tea Time

For more Emma, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen

For more on Persuasion, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

For more Austen posts, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)

For more Candy posts, go to Candy, Candy, Candy!

On the 10th Day ‘Til Christmas: Merry Christmas from the Austen Novels

On the 10th Day ’til Christmas my blogger gave to me

The Lovely Jane

A Jane Austen Birthday Wish!

For those of you who don’t know, today is Jane Austen’s birthday. If she was alive today, she would  be 237 years old. I know it’s not a Christmas-y movie, but what kind of Austenite would I be if I completely ignored the fact that it is her birthday on my blog?

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Jane Austen was an amazing woman who faced all kinds of adversary. Her father was a minister, and while well off to begin with, they ended up losing most of their money living in poverty. She fell in love with a high class man, and wanted to marry him; but his family intervened and sent him away. She was given another opportunity to marry a wealthy man that would have saved her and her family from destitution, but  she couldn’t marry him. She continued to wait for her true love; although he never walked back into her life. Her first book she ever wrote, Northanger Abbey (then called Lady Susan) was published post-mortem. Her second novel and the most famous, Pride and Prejudice, was turned down several times before being published. In fact, it was published after she wrote her third novel, Sense and Sensibility.

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Austen wrote not only great stories that have stood the test of time, but wrote about real issues and her more radical thoughts/philosophies, that wouldn’t be as easily accepted if spoken in person. In Northanger Abbey, we are all delighted as the main character is someone we can easily connect to. We all feel like Catherine at times in our lives, hoping that we will have an adventure and meet a dashing hero.

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This idea of a girl wanting the life of a novel, and ending up living one is later used and recycled in films such as Romancing the StoneAusten also pokes fun at all the social graces and little customs one must abide by, even though they are silly. It is a satire on societal rules and the gothic novel itself. However, it is a great book and one of Austen’s favorites.

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Pride and Prejudice  has so many things that are amazing to it. First of all parts of it are taken from her own life-a middle class woman falling for a high class man. Unfortunately she didn’t get the same ending. But Pride and Prejudice has such wit and wonderful lines; there is a reason why it is referenced in everything, has had a ton of movies and TV shows, spinoffs, vlogs, blogs, etc. I love it because the characters are so real. Elizabeth and Darcy are everywhere in the world. I’m a Darcy myself; every time I read it I always feel for him. But more on our shared traits later. I’m also an Elizabeth, they way she treats Darcy and others, when reading that its like looking into a mirror.

Go here to see who you are.

Go here to see who you are.

Emma, well I already stated that she and I have a lot alike. Sister’s amor hating you, a guy who won’t stop following you around. In my case 3), a friend who has a trifecta of boys rejecting her, deciding to become a spinster, and has meddled in friend’s love lives…need I go on? There are probably many of you out there who have had similar experiences. Not only that, but Jane Austen was able to share her own ideas of spinsterhood and how being a spinster who could care for one self (like Jane was able to in her writing) was nothing to look down on or pity. Austen said she was going to make a character that only she would love, but Emma has become beloved by all. Just like her modern counterpart, Cher from Clueless, there is something about that girl that is just lovable.

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Mansfield Park, while it isn’t my favorite is still a great read. We see a woman, although she is meek and timid through most of the novel, isn’t afraid to say no to a “a good thing”. *Spoiler Alert stop reading now if you haven’t read the book* When Henry Crawford asks her to marry him, even though he is rich and could save her family from destitution, she says no. She holds out for her number one, even when threatened to be kicked out of the Bertram house. Very Austonian there. She even continues to be kind and nice to all around her, even though they constantly use and abuse her. She is a true heroine, very Uncle Tom, never turning to hate or anger.

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I know I could never do that; Aunt Norris would have been punched in the eye already.

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But Fanny continues to be good, and when everyone else’s lives fall apart; she is there to help all pick up the pieces. The whole guy being blinded by the wrong girl, is also very real, I’ve had two friends like that.

Sense and Sensibility, deals with the line between expression. I liked how there is the question of whether too much of either is bad and how much does one need? We have Marianne full of sensibilities, wearing her heart on her sleeve; but we see this gets her into trouble as she expresses too much, before anything is promised to her.

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Elinor, expresses nothing, being purely intellectual and sensible; but this causes her to almost lose the man she loves.

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While both sisters are the best of friends; their extremes cause the other to never fully know their sister. Marianne can never see what Elinor is feeling and makes all these assumptions about a “frozen” heart. Elinor on the other hand, never imagines that Marianne has any sense as she assumes she is solely governed by feelings. I liked how the sisters were never privy to each others complete secrets as I feel this is realistic. I can see myself and my sister in these.

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Persuasion, is one of the saddest novels that Austen wrote, because even though it ends happily it was pure wish fulfillment. *Spoiler Alert stop reading now if you haven’t read the book* Anne is persuaded by her friend to not marry her love. He ends up leaving but returns, and after a series of misunderstandings the two are reunited. Austen always hoped that her love would return just like Captain Wentworth, but he never did.

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She also uses a strong irony in this as Anne was rich when she turned down poor Wentworth, but when he returns Anne is poor and Wentworth rich. I simply love this book because it seems so real, how the characters react and treat each other are the emotions they actually would. Austen also does a great line about women being portrayed as a “femme fatale” so often as men are the writers of these novels; therefore the view is biased. Great book to check out.

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Austen lived only 42 years, but changed the history of the novel with her great works. She has changed my life and I hope you give her a chance to influence yours. Happy Birthday Jane!

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Now to tie this into Christmas:

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The very first day that [James] Morland came to us last Christmas–the very first moment I beheld him–my heart was irrecoverably gone.”

-Northanger Abbey, pg 142

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I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which the season generally brings…”

-Pride and Prejudice, pg 122

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I remember last Christmas…he danced from eight o’clock to four, without once sitting down.”

Sense and Sensibility, pg 30

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If they were at home to grace the ball, a ball you would have this very Christmas.”

-Mansfield Park, pg 262

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At Christmas every body invites their friends and thinks little of even the worst weather.”

-Emma, pg 97

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On one side was a table occupied by chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire…”

 Persuasion, pg 80

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So there you go! Merry Christmas!

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To start the 12 Posts of Christmas from the beginning, go to On the 12th Day ’til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

For the previous post, go to On the 11th Day ’til Christmas: The Santa Clause (1994)

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For another Northanger Abbey post, go to Mr. Tilney’s Dating Tips

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to On the 12th Day ‘Til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

For another Sense & Sensibility post, go to Let’s Hear It For the Boys

For more on Emma, go to By George He’s Perfect!

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

For another Persuasion post go to A Fredrick Wentworth Sighting