Welcome to this week’s episode of Bibliomancy for Beginners! We took an extra week for this one because, well, classics can be dense. But we are here, finally and eager to please! This week we’re reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Join us next week when we read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente!
At the age of ten, shy, vulnerable Fanny Price leaves behind her impoverished family in Portsmouth to go and live with her rich relatives at Mansfield Park.
Growing up with her cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia, she is aware that she is different from them and that her place in society cannot be taken for granted, although she is not treated unkindly. A dashing couple from London, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry, enter this stable, rural world. They succeed in dazzling everyone at Mansfield Park, except for Fanny, who sees through their shallow veneer. Throughout the dramatic events that follow it is she who is able to bring back some stability to the ruptured lives of those around her.
One of the great novels of the nineteenth century, Mansfield Park echoes Jane Austen’s fears and awareness of the dawn of a modern age, which was to bring about a complete break from the old country traditions and way of life.