Matters at Mansfield coverMansfield Park probably has fewer spin-offs than almost any other novel by Jane Austin, so during this 200th anniversary of its publication I’m going to be pushed to find one a month. This one, however, was already on my TBR shelf and I’m glad I decided to go ahead with it.

The full title is The Matters at Mansfield (Or the Crawford Affair) a Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery, and to be honest there is more Pride and Prejudice than Mansfield Park in it. Edmond barely appears (as a local pastor) and Fanny is only mentioned as his wife. Henry Crawford, Mrs. Norris, Sir Thomas, Maria and the dowager Mrs. Rushworth appear, but the main characters (aside from the Darcys) are Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, for whom she is seeking a husband since Darcy has married elsewhere.

I’m not sure what the word is for someone who is forced into invalidism by an over-protective parent, but that’s the way Anne is portrayed here. Understandably desperate to get away from her controlling mother, she meets Henry Crawford. From there, the book is a tale of bigamy, elopements to Scotland (3!) murders (multiple) which fall in Sir Thomas Bertram’s duty as local magistrate, duels and general confusion. But my favorite moments are those involving the three controlling harridans: Lady Catherine de Burgh, Mrs. Norris, and the dowager Mrs. Rushworth.

I’ve read two of the other Bebris books (Pride and Prescience and Suspense and Sensibility) and left this one on the shelf because I was turned off by the conjunction of mystery and the paranormal in these two. Half the fun of a good mystery is trying to figure out the clues, and the paranormal adds a deus ex machina feel to the books. This one, I am happy to report, does not fall into that trap and I really enjoyed reading it.

Next month I’ll be doing the A to Z blogfest, and will be reviewing another DVD of Mansfield Park for M.

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