Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (Bloggerversary Challenge)


Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen | Jorie's Store by Amazon

Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen, Johanna Ward
ISBN: 9781441796394
Length: 16 hours, 47 minutes
Publication Date: Mar 08, 2005
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre: Novel of Manners
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: Alongside annual challenges I inflict upon myself, I also like reading at least one Jane Austen novel. This year, I added Austen’s Mansfield Park to the ballot. Mansfield Park received the most votes (out of all contenders) and I requested it from Harris County Public Library (HCPL). I listened to the eAudio on my Nook.

Summary (A little background): Austen sets up the story with three sisters: Lady Bertram, Mrs. Norris, and Mrs. Price. Lady Bertram married well. Mrs. Norris married a parson. Mrs. Price, however, married a naval officer. Shortly after the Prices’ marriage, Mr. Price becomes wounded and then pensioned as a Lieutenant at half pay. (Reminding me of the Three Little Pigs!) The Prices follow this by having nine children. Affecting the appearance of a caring parson’s wife, Mrs. Norris suggests to Lady Bertram that the Bertrams take on one of the Price kids to live with the Bertrams at their home, Mansfield Park. Ultimately, ten year old Fanny Price goes to live at Mansfield Park.

(Story Time): Fanny grows up with her four older cousins – Tom, Edmund, Maria (pronounced Mariah), and Julia. With the fine exception of Edmund, the Bertrams treat Fanny like a poor, stupid relation. Her Aunt Norris is probably worse on this front than the Bertrams. As years pass, Fanny’s gratitude for Edmund shifts to a deep romantic love. Things remain the same until the Crawford Siblings appear on the scene. Herein lies the discovery of Fanny’s true character.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Mansfield Park stands out among Austen’s bibliography. Austen’s works bridge the Age of Reason and Romanticism but this particular novel leans more towards pragmatism.

What I Liked: I prefer Fanny to Emma any day! While she and Edmund may seem like a set of wet blankets, I find her sweet, clever, and authentic.

What I Disliked: Well, some of these characters were absolute jerks! They think one act of altruism covers them for life.

RR - Green

 

 Rainbow Rating: Green – Parental Guidance 

Song: J.S. BACH, Harpsichord Concertos BWV1052, BWV1053, BWV1056, BWV1054, I Barocchisti

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Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Revisited Challenge)


Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Release Date: May 15, 2007

Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks

ISBN: 9789629543860
Hours: 2 hours, 59 minutes
Source: Harris County Public Library Digital Media Catalog 

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Reasons for Reading: I read/listened to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland back in 2010 but didn’t review it. Carroll’s classic was part of my Revisited Challenge and it received the most votes. Thus, I picked up an audio version for the second time.

Summary: Young, precocious Alice finds herself quite bored while sitting on the banks of the River Isis with her older sister. However, the talking, clothed, and tardy White Rabbit runs past and catches Alice’s attention. “Curiouser and curiouser…” Alice follows White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and tumbles down a long way passed many locked doors of varying sizes. When Alice lands, she finds herself to big to fit through a tiny door. Yet, she glimpses a lovely garden. As Alice sees a bottle labeled “DRINK ME,” she does just that. Thus, a whimsical, nonsensical adventure begins for Alice.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Many expressions we use today came from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland such as “Down the Rabbit-Hole,” and “Curiouser and curiouser!” Each time I listened to the book, I repeatedly found myself thinking “Oh, that came from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

What I Liked: I liked Alice’s fondness for her kitty cat – Dinah. I was happy that I got the audio version because there were many readers and I heard “The Lobster Quadrille.”

What I Disliked: I believe I have to be in the mood for “nonsense” to read and/or listen to it. As a child, I found all of this rather silly. Let’s just say I preferred less fantastical stuff.

RR - Green  Rainbow Rating: Green – Parental Guidance 


Song: 
What You Waiting For? (Clean Version) by Gwen Stefani | Vevo

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Jane Austen’s Emma (Revisited Challenge)


 

Title and Author(s):  Jane Austen’s Emma (Read by Nadia May)
Release Date: Jul 18, 2006

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.

ISBN: 9781441797339
Hours: 15 hours, 18 minutes
Source: eBranch Harris County Public Library 
* 1001 Books Book

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Reasons for Reading: I read Jane Austen’s Emma for the first time in 2008. However, I didn’t review it. So, earlier this year, I posted the Revisited Challenge. One of the winners was Emma.

Summary: Ever heard that proverb “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”? Well, it certainly seems to be the case with the “handsome, clever, and rich…” Emma Woodhouse. Emma’s mother passed away before Emma could remember her and her elder sister, Isabella Knightley has a family of her own to rear. She was reared in the nice estate of her old, doting father and a kindly governess, Miss Taylor. The only person who calls her out on anything is her brother-in law, George Knightley. When Emma sets up Miss Taylor with widower Mr Weston and they marry, Emma deems herself a matchmaker. Mr. Knightley tries to talk her out of pursuing this pastime but she continues to do so for her naive, new friend Miss Harriet Smith. So, Emma’s idle mind leads Emma to numerous misadventures of the heart.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Emma, which appeared in 1816, was the last novel published during Austen’s lifetime

What I Liked: I actually liked Mr. Knightley and Emma’s rival, Miss Jane Fairfax. The writing, of course, was genius.

What I Disliked: I didn’t like Emma very much. Yet, I found her very sympathetic. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. What do you think of Emma Woodhouse?

RR - Green

 

Rainbow Rating: Green – Parental Guidance 

Song:  Sam Cooke – Cupid

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Seeing the Story – Jane Eyre (2011)


Jorie’s Store – Jane Eyre

 

Fukunaga, C. J., Buffini, M., Owen, A., Trijbits, P., Wasikowska, M., Fassbender, M., Bell, J., … Universal Pictures (Firm). (2011). Jane Eyre. Universal City, Calif: Universal.

Reasons for Watching: I read the Charlotte Brontë classic a few years ago. Click here to view my 2008 review of Jane Eyre. I checked out the DVD from HCPL.

Summary: After surviving a horrendously cruel childhood, orphaned governess Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) finds herself working for Byronic hero, Mr. Rochester, at his daunting estate, Thornfield Hall. Rochester’s interest in Jane doesn’t distract her from noticing the oddest events that take place at Thornfield Hall, though.

Book to Movie Adaptation: Yes, I see that a thick book normally needs to be condensed in order to make it bearable for viewers. Thus, some scenes in the book don’t make the cut. Some of what was left out were Jane Eyre’s formative experiences. These key even that happened to the girl etched themselves into the personality of the woman Eyre became. For more info (spoiler alert), check out A Reader of Fictions: Books Made Into Movies: Jane Eyre (2011).

Review: While I thought Wasikowska did well, I felt the movie didn’t capture the utter misery Jane survived as a child. I also wanted to see a little more of the boarding school from Hell – Lowood. The mood seemed off somehow.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea


Borrowing from Arukiyomi . . . I read this by my PC mostly.

* 1001 Books Book

Rhys, J., Raiskin, J. L., & Brontë, C. (1999). Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: W.W. Norton. 9780393960129

I reviewed Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre after reading it in 2008. Spotting Wide Sargasso Sea on the infamous 1001 Books list, I skimmed the info in my book and mentally added it to my TBR list. Recently, I watched the Masterpiece Theatre version and thought of Rhys’ prequel. After some debate with my coworkers about what sort of monster the first Mrs. Rochester should be, I picked up the Norton Critical Edition of Wide Sargasso Sea.

Rhys takes up the cause of the madwoman in the attic – (Bertha) Antoinette Cosway Mason. Part I is told by the young  Antoinette, a beautiful white Creole heiress in Jamaica (circa 1834).  She’s troubled from the start – burdened with a derainged widowed mother, no father in early years, and the issue of a line of slaveholders.  In free Jamaica, Antoinette is neither Jamaican nor British. It doesn’t help that other kids call her a “white cockroach.” Things don’t improve much for Antoinette until her mother remarries Mr. Mason. While not fond of her stepfather, Mr. Mason offers order in a crazy world.

Part II is told by the unnamed husband (Mr. Rochester) of Antoinette. He wonders what he has done, marrying a stranger.  Apparently, he came down with a fever after arriving in Jamaica. Nonetheless, the husband has gained much in this union. He and Antoinette arrive at their honeymoon house. Eventually, the ice breaks (so to speak) between the two and things go well. Then, the husband receives a letter which changes everything.

Part III is voiced by Bertha as she’s now called. She talks from the attic of Thornfield Hall.

Rhys is no Charlotte Brontë. Part of me wants to cry “blasphemy!” Then again, these are two fictional works. I did find Antoinette sympathetic but I felt manipulated. I can feel sorry for a girl in an unstable house. In fact, I felt bad for Bertha in Jane Eyre.

I didn’t care for the reworking of the time setting, either. Here, Rhys tried to make the events coincide with the Jamaican abolition. I think she could’ve had some sort of Jamaican antebellum cries within her work. She didn’t need to have it set later.

Nor was I fond of the “male oppression” themes. Yes, things were that bad for women then. However, where was Antoinette’s mother when she needed her? She was taken care of by her stepfather. I felt like I was being hit over the head with this. Of course, this is likened to Britain’s treatment of Jamaica.

Perhaps another turnoff was that the book was rife with footnotes and explanations of what I was to read and then explanations of what I had just read. In this case, the notes hindered rather than helped.

I say Two Out of Five Pearls

Places: Jamaica, Dominica, Martinique, England

Word Bank: (definitions thanks to book cited above)

  1. calabash: a large dried gourd of the local calabash tree; they were used as bowls.
  2. Creole: in this context, those of English or European descent born in the Caribbean.
  3. frangipani tree: also called plumieria, a small tree native to the West indies with flowers that smell very sweet, especially at night.
  4. Maroon: in Jamaica, this term referred to the runaway slaves and their descendants who escaped to the mountains  and lived free in small communities.
  5. Patois: A French word also used in English to refer to any dialect that develops out of contact between the language of a colonizing people (i.e., English) and that of a colonized people (i.e., Native Americans).
  6. salt fish:  salted, dried cod imported from Canada as standard food for slaves and wages for apprentices. The colloquial connotations of the term “salt fish” include low-class stutus and low quality of character, as well as a poor diet.
  7. sargassum: a free-floating mass of seaweed. It is found in the Sargasso Sea, an oval-shaped area of the North Atlantic Sea, bordered by the Gulf Stream and encompassing the Bermuda Islands.

For more on Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, check out these links:


Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre


Jane Eyre (Collector’s Library) by Charlotte Bronte | LibraryThing

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Brontë, C. (1993). Jane Eyre. New York: Modern Library.

I remember having listened to the audio book when I was in junior high. Yet, I did not feel as though I could say I had actually read Brontë’s Jane Eyre. So, I picked up the book a second time.

Jane is an orphaned girl stuck with her mean, widowed, and wealthy aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her wretched cousins. Jane suffers at their hands to the point of being thrilled to go to boarding school just to escape their heavy-handed cruelty.

At the Lowood School, however, Jane finds more of the same abuses and deprivations. Under the direction of the antagonistic and puritanical Mr. Brocklehurst, Jane and her peers go more days without what they need. When Mr. Brocklehurst loses his position, though, and a new committee takes over Lowood, life for the students dramatically improves.

As an adult, Jane becomes a governess. She takes on employment at Thornfield manor under Byronic hero Mr. Rochester. Jane develops romantic feelings for Mr. Rochester, an enigmatic man with a past of his own.

I found Jane Eyre quite powerful in the creation and phrasing of the eponymous character. Simultaneously compassionate and willful, Jane can stand on her own. Mr. Rochester seems to love this quality, too. Jane is unsinkable and can look out for herself. In the ways that counts for Brontë, her orphaned heroine and Byronic hero are a perfect match.

It’s difficult for me to see if this is where the clichés of gothic romance originate or if it was already old hat. A similar question I had was whether all of the orphan misery was original to Brontë or if it was borrowed with Dickens. It definitely met my melodrama quota for the year.

Three out of Five Pearls

For more on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, please check out the following links: