Mansfield Park Read Along – Discussion, Pt. 1

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Mansfield Park Read Along | Austen in August Event | The Book Rat.com
This post contains spoilers for the first 18 chapters of the book.

So I’ve finally started my reading for the Mansfield Park read along, but better late than never, eh? I just finished “Volume 1”, and here are my answers to Misty’s first set of discussion questions.

Was Mansfield Park the first Austen book you read?
No, I’ve read all of her other finished novels.

Is this the first time you’ve read Mansfield Park?
Yes, and I’m hesitant and excited at the same time. I know this book is the least favorite of a lot of Austen readers.

How many other Austen books have you read?
As I said above, I’ve read all of her other finished novels, so that’s 5 (listed starting from my most favorite and going down.): Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Emma.

Will you read more of them/reread them?
I do plan to read her unfinished and shorter works, as well as re-read at least Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, my favorites.

Do you or will you read Austen adaptations?
I’m not really interested in them. I have read one, though, and that was For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. I liked that it was so far removed from the original, being a YA SF dystopian novel. So I do like some books that are loosely based on classics. I don’t like novels that straight on take the character of e.g. Elizabeth or Darcy in the same setting and continue/retell the story, but I don’t think I would be against reading a modern day retelling or somesuch (if you have a good one to recommend, go ahead!).

Responses to Mansfield Park

What were your initial impressions of the story? Not just the characters and their respective situations, but also the style and tone – if you’ve read Austen before, do you find Mansfield Park to be very different in any significant ways?
I actually don’t find it that different. In the beginning she starts by describing the families and their houses and grounds, like she often does. I also find her language very easy to read – I was so behind on this read along when I started, but I finished Volume 1 quickly. Her language just flows for me, and I find myself reading a lot more in one sitting than I had planned – that also owes thanks to my Kindle, which shows how many minutes I have left in a chapter. “4 minutes? Well, of course I can sit here and read on for only 4 minutes…” – then repeat with the next chapter. I do find that the narrative seems to focus less on any one character, which makes it a bit more alienating a read.

Going more into the characters now, Mansfield Park’s inhabitants are pretty universally considered Austen’s hardest to love. What was your response to them through the first half of this story? Do you feel for any of them? Hate any of them with a vehemence beyond that which you normally reserve for fictional characters? And if you try to look at them objectively, do you have any more sympathy (or disgust) with their actions and behavior?
I laugh now, because at first I was like “Why does everyone give Mrs Norris such a bad rep? Here she is suggesting they take Fanny in and care for her.” And then of course she backs out of any responsibility. She is also so very judgemental towards everyone. There are a lot of characters who seem conceited or small-minded (actually, almost all of them), but I don’t yet vehemently hate any of them. I don’t particularly like any of them, either… A lot of the characters seem like caricatures, at least more of them than in her other novels (there’s always a few, and they’re usually very astute).

Fanny is often considered to be a very milquetoast, frustratingly passive heroine. Do you agree with this perception of her? Do you find yourself making excuses for her or holding things against her? Or do you feel that Fanny is underestimated as a character? Consider the scene in the Rushworth’s park, as Fanny sits for hours, waiting to be noticed again, while everyone around her seeks their own amusement.
I’m pretty surprised about the lack of focus on Fanny. I mean, I knew she was supposed to be the main character, but seriously about 20% of the book had passed before we focused on her at all. She was only mentioned in passing – a lot of people were more in focus and/or in more scenes than her! After that she sort of gradually climbed to the forefront. She actually doesn’t annoy me that much, because I’m a quiet and shy person myself, but on some occasions she does take timidness a bit too far. Like the aforementioned park scene, or when she is asked directly about her horse and she is just sort of like “No thanks, I don’t need it, I didn’t feel like riding anyway” when she clearly does. Ugh. I mean, I understand how she got this way, what with how she is treated within the family, but it can be hard to read sometimes. I still like her more than Emma so far.

“The Play” and preparation for it is one of the most telling and pivotal scenes in Mansfield Park – discuss your reaction to the entire Lover’s Vows storyline: what it brings to light in the characters, what changes and ruptures it causes among them, things that amused or irritated you, etc. Did your feelings about any of the characters change as a result of The Play? How did you feel about Fanny during this whole incident? Would you have liked to see the play – and its aftermath – without the intrusion of the returning Lord Bertram?

Am I to take from this that the show is definitely cancelled? I haven’t read further on. I have to say that I would have been curious to see the train wreck of a play go forth. The rehearsals for the play definitely showed that Edmund is willing to let a lot pass when it comes to Mary. I was very surprised when he decided to take part in the play, although I understand his reasons. To bring in a stranger to an obviously questionable play about “Lover’s Vows” wouldn’t have been the right move… I like that Fanny sticks to her guns and won’t take part in the play even when she’s coaxed by the others and Mrs Norris is so horrible to her (although in the end it’s left to question whether she would have in the end be taken in what with the absence of Mrs Grant and all). Edmund doesn’t do half as well as Fanny, here.

Fan Art Friday: Game of Thrones houses

I am an illustrator and graphic designer and love to see other people’s illustrations of my favorite characters/books. Fan art Friday is a semi-regular feature where I highlight book inspired fan art from the web.

French illustrator Renaud Forestié has drawn wonderfully cute versions of the house sigils from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones! Below are a couple of my favorites.

Check out all of the house sigils here on Mr Forestié’s website! In addition to the ones below, I especially love the Targaryen sigil.

GoT - Renaud Forestie

Waiting for Neverwhere (BBC Audiobook)

Neverwhere Audiobook

Radio 4 dramatisation featuring stars James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee and Homeland’s David Harewood.

Under the streets of London there’s a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There’s a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining… And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.

I can’t wait to get to listen to BBC’s audio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere! The all-star cast with the likes of James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Head and Christopher Lee sounds stellar! I missed the play when it came out on the BBC website for free, because I got mixed up with the dates. But the audio cd is coming out on September 5th, 2013! That’s only three weeks from now! I hope there’s also an mp3 download or something available, but if not, I’ll get the CD. One of my favourite books from one of my favourite authors, what’s not to like?

 

This post is linked at “Waiting on Wednesday”, a weekly meme that tells us what books the blogosphere is most anxiously waiting for. It hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Top 6 Things that Make My Life As A Reader Easier

Easier Reading Life Logos

1. The GoodReads websitelink
Before I joined GoodReads, I wrote down everything I read into notebooks – just a title next to the date I finished. I have a lot of old notebooks like those in my closet. Then I found GoodReads, and I love not only keeping tabs on what I read, but also reading reviews and finding out about new books. Whenever I find an interesting looking book online, I go to GoodReads and check what it is about, as well as if any of my friends have read it and what they thought.

2. The GoodReads appiTunes link
I have to do a separate entry about the GoodReads mobile app. I just recently realized that I can use it to scan books at bookstores and add them to my To Read list easily. So if I’m browsing in a bookstore and find an interesting looking book that I don’t know a lot about, I just scan the barcode and add it to my books – that takes care of having to remember the title and author!

3. Project Gutenberg (& my e-reader)link
After I bought my Kindle, I’ve been reading a lot of classics, thanks to the Project Gutenberg free ebook database! Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books, so it’s a great place to find classics.

4. My library’s home page, Helmet link
Helmet (from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries) is a great internet site, where I can login and see all my loans, as well as browse books and reserve them. One can also make memos there, so I have lists for example for “YA fantasy books” and “Adult fantasy books”. Once I’ve added them to the list, it’s easier to find them again and reserve them with just one click. The libraries also have a mobile phone app – it still needs some work, but has the potential to become really useful in the future.

5. Interlibrary loan & The fantasy team of Espoo library link
The Espoo city library has an expert team of fantasy fans who are in charge of ordering the fantasy books for the library. Thanks to them and the metropolitan area interlibrary loan, I can find most of the newest, buzzed about English-language fantasy books from my library not long after they come out. They also take suggestions for books to order, which helps me not having to buy everything.

6. Akateeminen Kirjakauppa / The Academic Bookstorelink
The downtown Helsinki flagship store of the Finnish 120-year-old Academic Bookstore chain consists of four floors, and has a really well-maintained section of fantasy & science fiction books. I waste a lot of time here… I don’t know if this makes my life as a reader easier, but at least it makes it easier for me to get rid of my moneys. But they have a stamp card – after I’ve bought seven paperbacks, I get the eighth one for free! So it only makes sense to buy a lot of books, right? …right?!

 

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

Mansfield Park Read-A-Long

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Mansfield Park Read Along | Austen in August Event | The Book Rat.com

You guys may know that in addition to fantasy, I love my classics. So I am taking part in the Mansfield Park Read Along that is being hosted by Misty from The Book Rat. It is part of her two-week event, Austen in August, filled with all sorts of Jane Austen-y goodness.

Mansfield Park is the only one of Austen’s novels that I haven’t read yet. It tells the story of Fanny Price, who is being brought up with her rich cousins in the titular house. I’m a bit hesitant about the book, since I’ve heard that a lot of people consider it to be their least favourite Austen novel, in addition to it being one of Austen’s longest books. I have only just getting started with the reading, so I really should get a move on so that I can finish it during the two week event! I am reading the free Project Gutenberg edition on my Kindle.

Current Reads: Moon over Soho

How are you all doing? I did a little revamp on the blog, appearance-wise. Hope you like it!

I am currently reading

Moon Over Soho
Moon Over Soho

(Peter Grant #2)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural / mystery
From: Borrowed from my sister

Something violently supernatural had happened, something strong enough to leave an imprint on the corpse of part-time jazz saxophonist Cyrus Wilkinson as if he were a wax cylinder recording. He’s not the first musician to drop dead of a heart attack right after a gig, but no one was going to let me start examining corpses to check for supernatural similarities. Instead, it was back to old-fashioned police legwork. It didn’t take me long to realise there were monsters stalking Soho, creatures feeding off the gift that separates great musicians from those who can raise a decent tune. What they take is beauty. What they left behind is broken lives.

I got a lot of books I had reserved from the library, so of course I started reading the book I had borrowed from my sister… Of course, it only makes sense, right? I really liked the first Peter Grant novel, so I’m pretty excited about this one. I love how easy it is to read! The jazz theme also feels very intriguing. And I want to read more about my love, Inspector Nightingale. <3

Last week I finished

The Island of Dr. Moreau

I finished another H.G. Wells classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau. I have to say that I liked it best from the books I’ve read from him! Good, chilly moments, and interesting thoughts about the nature of men and animals.

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Current Reads: The Island of Dr. Moreau

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I am currently reading

The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau

By: H.G. Wells
Genre: Science fiction classic
From: The library

When Edward Prendick is rescued after the shipwreck of the Lady Vain, he finds himself aboard a vessel carrying a menagerie of wild animals and their keeper, Montgomery. Nursed back to health by Montgomery, Prendick is put ashore with the man and his beasts on an unknown island where he encounters Montgomery’s master, the brilliant and sinister Doctor Moreau. And soon, Prendick discovers that the island holds a dark and terrible secret – Doctor Moreau has been playing God.

I am continuing with classics after finishing The Scarlet Pimpernel last week. This time I picked up a science fiction classic. I have read The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds from Wells before, but I have to say that the beginning of this book has captured my interest better than those did. Wells truly was a visionary of SF, I mean, first time travel and alien invasion, now gene manipulation!

Last week I finished

The Scarlet Pimpernel A Dance with Dragons
The Scarlet Pimpernel follows a young woman who gets dragged into the mystery surrounding the Scarlet Pimpernel, the mysterious benefactor who rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine and transports them to English soil. It was very different from what I imagined – I thought it would be a fun swashbuckling romp with the Scarlet Pimpernel himself as the main character, but it was far more intrigue-based. I enjoyed it nonetheless, and found the female point of view character to make a refreshing change to the usual classic adventure stories.

I also finally finished A Dance with Dragons! The book didn’t really further the plot that much, but I liked it more than A Feast for Crows. It feels weird to have finished the last book published so far, after three years of reading this series. I had read the first two books when they came out, then after the first season of the Game of Thrones TV series, I picked the series up again and started from the beginning. It’s so weird that I can’t just move onto the next one!

How are you doing? Any of ASoIaF/GoT fans out there awaiting the next book/season?