Mar 242017
 

What If Fanny Was Tired of Being Called Ungrateful?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

What a novel experience it is to read a variation for Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park! What happens in a Mansfield Park variation? Is it like a Pride and Prejudice variation – do Fanny and Edmund still end up together (just traveling a different path)? Or does the author shake things up a little more?

In Lona Manning’s contemplative and inventive variation she poses the questions:

  • What if “a contrary wind” delayed Sit Thomas’s return to Mansfield Park by a few weeks?
  • What if the rehearsals of Lover’s Vows continued unimpeded?
  • What if Fanny was tired of being told she was an ungrateful burden to the Bertram family and decided to take control of her own future?

So many possibilities, right? With Sir Thomas’s continued absence and the increasing intimacy and suggestiveness of the theatricals, there is so much that happens! But sadly, Fanny isn’t there to witness it all. She has left Mansfield behind to seek a position as a governess. What will the Bertrams say when they notice Fanny’s absence? Will Fanny ever be reunited with her Bertram cousins? Or will her path continue to diverge from theirs?

Brava to Lona Manning for her thoughtful twists and skillful execution in this variation. This story was in no way predictable and it kept me guessing almost until the end! I really enjoyed not knowing what to expect and I enjoyed the slow and leisurely reveal.  With every character there were some twists, so nothing was proceeding in a predictable or familiar way!

One aspect of this story that I enjoyed is Ms. Manning’s respectful renderings of Jane Austen’s characters. Her thoughtful and perceptive portrayals of these characters illustrate her keen understanding, and I’m happy to say she doesn’t take any character too far away from their original personality (like the film adaptations do!). I greatly appreciated the development of Fanny’s character throughout this story. (Forewarning: I’m not one of those readers who despise Fanny). Fanny has always earned my sympathy, and I admire her tender heart and how she strives to live by a strict moral code. In this story, we see more of how Fanny can be selfless and compassionate towards others. The Crawfords, on the other hand, did not rise in my esteem. Their selfishness and self-serving interests are heightened a little in this novel.

Another element of the story I enjoyed was the clever and subtle inclusion of several characters from other Jane Austen novels. It is always fun to detect a character and situation that sounds familiar. In addition, I enjoyed the new original characters that were introduced, and the spotlight on the abolitionist movement and British navy.

While I loved all the twists Ms. Manning implemented in her tale, I did find some of the later ones to be a little too sudden and abrupt for my taste. I think if they unraveled at more leisurely pace or with more of a build up it would have been better. But perhaps the author was trying to keep this story from being too long. 😉 However, the quicker action at the end and the several story threads left hanging made some things feeling a little more unresolved. (Definitely hoping for a sequel!)

A Contrary Wind is a praiseworthy and well-crafted variation of Mansfield Park. Through her prose and premise Lona Manning displays a comprehensive knowledge of the time period and an admirable devotion to Jane Austen and her world. A wonderful choice for readers who are looking for well-written stories that feature other Jane Austen novels.

Warning: Recommended for mature audiences due to a few intimate scenes and descriptions (nothing graphic).

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25 Comments on "A Contrary Wind – Lona Manning"

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Carole in Canada

Great review Meredith! This one sounds intriguing and I will have to put it on my wishlist!

Teresa

Hi Meredith,
Thanks for your insightful review!. I’ll put this book in my wishlist because I see it provides a good perspective for Fanny. As you say, I also like Fanny because she has a strong soul and mind in spite of her quiet personality and considering that this variation shows Fanny leaving Mansfield Park to live her own life it seems to me a great starting from the scratch. And I’m very curious about the impredictable path you say the plot follows 😉

Lona Manning

Yes, Meredith is very good at reviewing a book without doing spoilers, isn’t she?

Teresa Broderick

I’m looking forward to reading this book. It’s on my TBR. I too always liked Fanny. I thought she had an awful lot to put with. Great review as always.

Ceri

Loved your review, Meredith! This book is a definite on my TBR. It’s so good to see a variation for MP.

Kathl29

Yay – I went and bought this on Kobo as soon as I read the review – love it when there are variations for other Jane Austen novels not just P&P. I’ve warned my family that if they’re looking for me tonight I’ll be back in the 1800’s!

Lona Manning

Meredith, thank you for your thoughtful review. Yes, I am thinking about a sequel but the feedback and reactions from readers of “A Contrary Wind” will play a BIG part in shaping the book! So, after you read, please post a review and tell me what you think should happen next! Thanks everyone!

Anji

Thanks for such a thoughtful rebiew, Meredith. Fanny has never been one of my favourite Austen heroines, though I do admire her for sticking to her guns about not marrying Henry, so it’s interesting to read that she’s taken a more pro-active role in her own future in this. Definitely one for my Wish List.

Anji

“review”!

Susanne Barrett

I have long been a devoted fan of Fanny Price as I see definite similarities between our characters. I appreciate her steadfastness to do what was right rather than what was easy in the extremely difficult matter of Henry Crawford while being pressured from all sides. So I am definitely looking forward to this variation of Mansfield Part–thank you for your review, and I’ll adding it to my Goodreads list! (I already did, in fact–thank you for the link right to Goodreads!)

Warmly,
Susanne 🙂

Suzan

Mansfield Park is not one of my favorites, however Fanny Price is and for all the reasons mentioned in other comments. I feel she has extraordinary strength and especially in light of all the circumstances. I love variations of other novels besides the the usual few. Thank you so much for doing that. It sounds like a wonderful novel to explore.

Monica P

Interesting! MP variations are so rare. It’s been awhile since I read MP but I do have a soft spot for Fanny as well. I’m putting this on my wish list. I declare after all there is no enjoyment like spending one’s tax returns on books!

Reina

Thanks for your review, Meredith! I too like Fanny, and this sounds like a good read. I’m putting it on my Goodreads list. 🙂

Sheila L. Majczan

Ah, another variation on Mansfield. I will admit that I am one who does not care that much for Fanny Price…just too perfect IMHO. But in taking employment outside of Mansfield maybe she will redeem herself. Thanks for the review. I do have this book on my Wish List.

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