Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fanny Price is Dead . . . and I'm Okay with That

"Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park." --Lionel Trilling

I finally started plowing through my summer reading this past week and boy, did I start with a crazy one! Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd retells Jane Austen's original work, casting the witty and clever Mary Crawford as the new heroine and Fanny Price as the wealthy, conceited heiress that everyone hates. Through a series of rivalries, jealousy, love affairs, and unrequited love, Fanny is found murdered on the grounds of Mansfield. Following the lead of thief-taker Charles Maddox, Mary helps piece together the details of Fanny's murder while fighting her feelings for Fanny's fiance, Edmund.

I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start. I've read Mansfield Park a couple of times and I actually did my senior project on it this past year. Long story short, I liked the book. It was Fanny I couldn't stand: she's too timid to act . . . like, at all, she's so weak that she's falls ill after picking roses, and she's just so . . . so . . . serious. *Insert Joker reference here*
"Why so serious, Fanny? Why?"
Fanny is also so morally sound that you feel guilty for disliking her . . .which just makes you dislike her even more.

Suffice to say, I found a twisted sense of pleasure in Fanny's imminent death. I know, I know. I'm a horrible person. But hey--she's fictional, so it's okay. Also, Shepherd explores Mary's character further, providing a more sympathetic back story. I really enjoyed the way Shepherd used the same events and--at some points--wording from Austen's original text. Although, I will say that I thought the murderer's reveal to be a bit obvious, but I'm usually wrong when it comes to mysteries so I got a kick out of being right for once.

For Jane Austen fans, particularly those who liked Mansfield Park, I recommend reading this book. As for those who hate Mansfield Park or share my utter abhorrence for Miss Price, I recommend reading this book. I mean, who doesn't love a good mystery and Jane Austen? The answer is no one. No one, people.

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