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Murder at Mansfield Park Paperback – 20 July 2010
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Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park. --Lionel TrillingIn this ingenious new twist on Mansfield Park, the famously meek Fanny Price--whom Jane Austen's own mother called insipid--has been utterly transformed; she is now a rich heiress who is spoiled, condescending, and generally hated throughout the county. Mary Crawford, on the other hand, is now as good as Fanny is bad, and suffers great indignities at the hands of her vindictive neighbor. It's only after Fanny is murdered on the grounds of Mansfield Park that Mary comes into her own, teaming-up with a thief-taker from London to solve the crime. Featuring genuine Austen characters--the same characters, and the same episodes, but each with a new twist--MURDER AT MANSFIELD PARK is a brilliantly entertaining novel that offers Jane Austen fans an engaging new heroine and story to read again and again.
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About the Author
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (20 July 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312638345
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312638344
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.16 x 21.59 cm
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A lot of people have obviously been delighted by this book, and it does show a good knowledge of the original, but I just did not love it enough.
Having adopted Austen's style, language and phrasing, the author adds intrigue and dark motives to the original themes of love, ambition, property and inheritance. The murder of one of the principal characters leads to suspicion descending on various members of the community until Charles Maddox arrives from London to solve the case.
Past misdemeanours, misunderstandings and ill health combine to create mayhem in the lives of everyone at Mansfield Park until the perpetrator is revealed in terrifying circumstances.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, Murder at Mansfield Park is the first in a series in which Charles Maddox is brought in to solve the mystery in a literary setting. I shall definitely be reading the others.
However, as with the Dickens, I was none too happy with the author's attempt to emulate Austen's style. Let me give two instances: on four occasions the author uses "thankfully" as a "dangling adverb", i.e. not related to the subject of the sentence, e.g. "thankfully the rain had now ceased". The classic example of this nowadays is "hopefully" - "hopefully the weather will be fine tomorrow", and I'm glad to say that this does not occur in this book (or, "thankfully this usage does not occur"). Many people will maintain that nowadays this is accepted usage, but my point is that Austen never uses it in her entire output: I found 11 usages of the word "thankfully", all relating to the subject of the sentence, e.g. "whose great kindness I shall always thankfully remember".
My other cavil is with the author's usage of the "quaint" spelling of "sopha", the more usual spelling never appearing. In Austen's entire works there are just two instances of "sopha", both in juvenilia, and 46 of "sofa", many of them having Lady Bertram reclining on them.
Are these petty objections? They certainly jar when you read them, and bring you back to the basic point of Why read a pastiche rather than the real thing? I don't object to the transposition of some characters, Fanny as a rich relation rather than a poor one (but equally odious), Edmund as Mrs Norris's stepson (and equally priggish), though I can't see the point of transposing William from being Fanny's brother to being a Bertram brother. I appreciate that if he were Fanny's brother she wouldn't be a rich heiress, but he gets so little mention that he'd be better omitted altogether.