Getting to the Jane Austen I hadn’t read yet. Mansfield Park was a later novel and some of the critics called it “more mature”. Austen has a formula: a young lady has little fortune but a few connections and spends some time with the upper classes. (OK, except for Emma.) There are generally horrid relatives and rakish fiends and opportunists of many varieties.
In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price is one of way-too-many children of a working class man whose sister-in-law married particularly well. Fanny is sent to live with them. Shy and kind and “amiable” blahblahblah.
I spent most of the story disliking her. She barely spoke and when she opened her mouth she sounded childish. However, by the end of the story I had realized that she was (MILD SPOILER) a tremendous judge of character. No Pride or Prejudice in that girl. She was also appreciative of the life she had – including her education – and listened to her own conscience when she had the opportunity to marry a nice looking guy with a pot of cash. And the entire family pressured her to do so.
If I could only have one Jane Austen novel for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be this one. But I am glad to have read it all the same.