Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park is 200 years old this year, and I’m celebrating by reading and watching a number of re-tellings, re-imaginings, and sequels. For this book, possibly the least popular of Jane Austin’s novels, the main problem is simply finding enough books and DVDs for one review a month!
I happen to like Fanny Price, and think in many ways she is among the strongest of Jane Austin’s heroines. Many people, however, consider her far too insipid to be interesting. As a result, the stories based on Mansfield Park almost without exception try to “improve” her, or (as in the current story) leave her out entirely.
Yes, leave her out. Mansfield Park Revisited starts with the death of Sir Thomas Bertram in Antigua, followed almost immediately by the departure of Edmond, Fanny, and their infant son to straighten out the Antiguan property. From that point on it is essentially a retelling of Mansfield Park with the somewhat more forward Susan replacing Fanny. There are bits brought in from other Austin novels; Mrs. Osborne seems taken from Mrs. Croft in Persuasion, for instance. But on the whole it is a retelling of Mansfield Park with the names changed.
The book was originally published in 1985. It was reissued in 2008, 4 years after the author’s death. At some time at or after the reissue, it was also released on Kindle, and this is the version I have. Unfortunately it was never formatted for Kindle, and my major criticism of the book is just that: the e-book formatting is a mess. Words and sentences have odd breaks, and from having formatted a book for Kindle myself, I suspect that the PDF of the print book was simply transferred over to Kindle. It doesn’t work.