Classic Book Review: Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars

Fanny Price goes to live with her rich relatives, who make her feel inferior and criticize her. She befriends her cousin, Edmund, but is belittled by her cousins, Maria and Julia. When the Crawford siblings arrive as new neighbors, Maria and Julia compete for the attention of Mr. Henry Crawford, while Edmund gradually falls under the spell of the beautiful and wicked Miss Crawford. Only Fanny is undeceived by the Crawford’s pretty manners.

Marvelous story! Each time I reread it, I find something deeper in the story and the characters. But I always want to slap some sense into Edmund, until he realizes how delightful Fanny is.

Jane Austen’s writing never fails to amaze me. She has such a perceptive way of laying bare every thought and action of each character with exquisite insight into the little vexations and desires of human nature. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Jane Austen

Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin
Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This biography of Jane Austen does a very thorough job of seizing on every letter, every mention, every tiny detail that can be gleaned about the famous author; unfortunately, that isn’t much. Jane’s sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters after Jane’s death. Jane’s brothers and nephews and nieces didn’t preserve her letters as faithfully as they should have. The result is that there are few original writings left from one of the best-loved authors of all time, and little is known of her day to day life.

However, the author does a wonderful job of piecing together letters from cousins, diary entries of nieces and neighbors, along with the few portraits and tin-type photographs of her family and friends.
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Classic Review: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey 
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Catherine Morland is on vacation in Bath with family friends, where she is befriended by the scheming Isabella Thorpe. At her very first dance, Catherine falls in love with the charming Henry Tilney and is invited to visit Northanger Abbey to keep his sister company. Catherine’s wild imagination paints the Abbey as a Gothic melodrama waiting to happen, and she sees mystery and murder in every innocent corner.

Rereading this book for the third time, I enjoyed it so much more than the first two readings; probably because I’m older and more sensitive to the wisdom and humor in Austen’s writing.

When I first read Northanger, I remember being so frustrated with Catherine Morland’s character, because she can’t see through the social facade of people like Isabella Thorpe. Of course, Catherine doesn’t have the experience yet to be able to judge people’s character very well. She assumes that other people think and feel just like herself, and she gives them the benefit of the doubt.

But now I recognize that those aspects of Catherine’s character really frustrated me, because I AM like Catherine in many ways. Imaginative, sensitive, trusting, gullible, naive, and prone to flights of fancy instead of being rooted in reality. Continue reading