Jan 262018
 

A New Protagonist for Mansfield Park!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Alternate Point-of-View of Mansfield Park

TIME FRAME: Begins with the Crawfords’ arrival at Mansfield Parsonage

SYNOPSIS: Many Austen fans find it hard to love Fanny Price, her timid meekness and unerring morality perhaps make her a bit unlikable to readers. Author Kyra Kramer has decided that another character from Mansfield Park deserves a chance to have their story told – the worldly and witty, Mary Crawford. In this tale we see Mansfield Park from Mary Crawford’s point-of-view, and witness first-hand her thoughts and feelings of all that takes place during and after her visit to Mansfield Parsonage.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • Mary Crawford’s POV: I love that this novel exists, and I wish more novels like this should exist! I love reading about Jane Austen’s secondary characters and seeing them have a chance to become a heroine or hero of their own tale. While I typically root for and am fond of Fanny Price, I can’t say I dislike Mary Crawford. I am so glad that Ms. Kramer decided to let Mary have her say!
  • Something MORE About Mary: In Mansfield Park, we see that Mary is knowledgable, witty, and a charming conversationalist. She has much in common with Jane Austen’s most popular heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. I loved learning more about Mary and seeing more of her interests and beliefs in this tale – not just the light-hearted bon mots and playful arguments. I loved seeing her strong feelings about slavery, her personal views on politics, her yen to travel far and wide, and her interests and knowledge of other cultures. Moreover, I admired Mary’s thoughtful and progressive views; she is indeed an intelligent and informed lady.
  • Sibling Love: I greatly enjoyed seeing more of life at Mansfield Parsonage and Dr. and Mrs. Grant. Mrs. Grant truly is a loving and giving character that you cannot help but like. It was lovely to see her devotion and love for her siblings. Some of my favorite scenes in this story are between Mrs. Grant and Mary or Henry and Mary, it was lovely to witness these private conversations where theses characters can reveal their true thoughts and not fear disapprobation. I especially loved seeing how fond and devoted Henry and Mary are towards each other, it contrasts greatly with the Bertram siblings. The Crawfords’ loyalty and affection for each other is a delight.

WHAT I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT:

  • Additional Tidbits: I admire all the research and informative historical backdrop Ms. Kramer provided in this tale. Her research and study of this time period are evident in every description of clothing/scenery and in every discussion about real historical events/gossip. However, combined with the gossip/events of fictitious characters of the ton, it did start to feel a little too much in some parts. For example, I loved witnessing Mary receive a witzchoura and her delight in discussing Lady Caroline Lamb’s scandalous behavior with Lord Byron, but I really wasn’t interested in seeing her gossip with Henry about mutual town acquaintances that we never meet on page.

WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:

  • Not Entirely a Heroine I Love: While I grew to like and admire Mary Crawford more in this tale, I didn’t find myself completely warming to her as a heroine. Her confused feelings over Edmund and her fears of a miserable marriage are ones I can understand and sympathize with, but her unromantic, cold heart (as she describes it multiple times) and proclivity to seek out/protect her own self-interest I think prevented me from becoming completely endeared to her as a heroine.  But perhaps that may change in the future.
  • Narrative Remarks:  I wasn’t very fond of seeing some negative comments against Fanny in the narrative. It felt a little heavy-handed for the narrator to strongly point out Fanny’s “resentful” and “worm-eaten heart.” I know this may have been to increase our sympathies towards Mary instead of Fanny, but it felt unsupported since Fanny never acts on these jealous or resentful feelings and remains civil, albeit a little cold.

CONCLUSION:

Despite some quibbles, I am full of appreciation for his much needed addition to the Austenesque genre. There are so many engaging facets to this encompassing tale, and I applaud Kyra Kramer for her meticulous attention towards every detail and her skillful renderings of Jane Austen’s original characters. This story seems to end with a promise of more, and I am so hoping that is true because I would love to see more from Kyra Kramer!

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  25 Responses to “Mansfield Parsonage – Kyra C. Kramer”

  1.  

    Wonderful review Meredith. I’ve had this book on my radar for some time. I have to confess to not liking Mary Crawford at all in Mansfield Park so it would be interesting to see how she’s portrayed here. It would be a coup indeed for a writer if they could make me like her or even warm to her a little. It sounds like an interesting story.

  2.  

    Enjoyed your review Meredith. I too enjoyed this book and perspective from Mary Crawford. I really don’t think she would have been happy with Edmund and vice versa. For me, Edmund is not a favourite. Fanny was not wishy-washy like Edmund either.

    •  

      Thanks for checking out my review, Carole! I agree with you about not being too fond of Edmund. I don’t think he is the right fit for Mary, but I liked how this story showed why she fell for him.

  3.  

    This is one I had my eye on last year just because it was Mary’s story and a MP variation. Glad to get your thoughts on it. Sounds like Mary is still something of an anti-hero even in her own story. 🙂

    •  

      Isn’t it great to see Mary Crawford get some attention? I don’t mind a heroine with flaws and Mary definitely grew on me, but I guess I was missing a little something to completely love her as a heroine.

  4.  

    Wow, this was a different version of Austen’s Mansfield Park. It was 4.5 stars for me and I enjoyed seeing things through Mary’s eyes/perspective. It was well done and I enjoyed it. However, I still remain Team Fanny. Great review Meredith, thanks for sharing with us.

    •  

      It was interesting to see another POV for Mansfield Park, wasn’t it? So glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I believe I might be the same as you, still Team Fanny. 🙂 Thanks for checking out my review!

  5.  

    Thanks for the well-balanced review, as always, Meredith. This one’s been on my Wish List since it was published. Hopefully, it’ll move to my TBR List before too much longer. I have to admit to being ambivalent about both Fanny and Mary and their roles in Mansfield Park, so it’d be interesting to see things from Mary’s POV.

    •  

      …and when I went to Amazon just now to check out the price, I discovered that I’d already bought it last year! Not the first time that’s happened.

    •  

      Thanks for your kind words about my review, Anji! Since this book is quite large, I had a lot to say about it! 😉 I’d be interested to hear your thoughts after you read this one.

      LOL! That’s a nice surprise! 😉

  6.  

    Thank you for this lovely and detailed review, Meredith!! I just loooooove the depth of insight, supported by details from the work, that you invest in every review. You are **amazing**!!

    I have always loved Mansfield Park and Fanny, so I am curious about seeing the events of this novel through the insightful and often ironic view of Mary Crawford. I can see how Fanny’s innate goodness and good fortune in being raised at Mansfield may grate on Mary’s nerves, mostly from envy. And Mary likely will recognize Fanny’s “crush” on Edmund and perhaps gloat a bit on having captured his romantic interest when Fanny has not, nor will Fanny attempt to divert his attention away from Mary to herself. Mary can probably see ways to use Fanny to gain Edmund for herself, especially when Tom is ill and it seems possible that Edmund may become the heir after all.

    Thank you again for reviewing this book, Meredith; there are few variations of Mansfield Park, so I’m glad that you reviewed this one. 😀

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    •  

      Thank you, Susanne! You are so very kind! I’m glad my review length isn’t too long!

      You will be surprised I think by Mary’s thoughts about Fanny in this story. It wasn’t as I pictured either. And I was also surprised about Mary’s thoughts regarding Edmund. I think Ms. Kramer put a lot of good thought into her character.

      I’m very happy to review anything Mansfield Park related, books like this one are hard to come by! 🙂

  7.  

    Very helpful review, and glad to have read it. I really appreciate a well-researched piece of historical fiction and combine that with JAFF and that’s tops with me. Reporting that makes me want to read it sooner rather than later.

    I’ve said before that MP is not my favorite Austen. I saw one of the movies before reading the book, but in both instances during the first half of the book I really couldn’t tell if Mary’s attraction to Edmund was actual attraction. Or was it like Henry’s toying with Maria Bertram and the introduction of Mr Yates into the story with the mischief of putting on the play. Both Mary and Henry just act like they want to have fun at the expense of all those around them. It’s no big leap to agree with everyone else to say Mary and Edmund wouldn’t have made each other happy. But why did she even want Edmund? Just so that she could change and mold him into her own creature? In the end, I think she invested so much of herself into the challenge, she probably did see what she lost by not being able to compromise or change her ideas of contentment.

    Even so, I felt a little sorry for Mary and Henry Crawford in the end. I wish I knew more about Austen’s ideas and thoughts about those characters herself.

    PLEASE…. Does anyone remember a JAFF that features Mary Crawford after MP, where she speaks to an older woman (don’t remember their relationship) and confesses that she has been wrong in her approach to marriage prospects. I THINK it may also have had Emma Knightly in it too. ??????

    •  

      I really enjoyed the historical backdrop, it is fun to witness Jane Austen’s characters chat and speculate about real historical figures like Lord Byron and the Prince Regent!

      I think Kyra provides a really good answer to some of your questions regarding the Crawfords and what they did for fun or their own vanity and when they were sincere. I really liked and agreed with her decisions.

      It would be interesting to discuss these characters with Jane Austen, wouldn’t it?

      Hmm..I think you might be talking about Old Friends and New Fancies but it has been so long since I’ve read it I’m not sure. I know that one has several Jane Austen characters mixed up and I remember Mary Crawford being a bit more in the spotlight.

  8.  

    Thank you for reviewing my book and fair play to all your critiques!!

    As for why Mary a was tad difficult to love … well, I can only say I was trying to stay true to Austen’s vision. Mary was a very flawed character in Mansfield Park, and her flaws were largely the result of education and upbringing. Life in the Ton had taught Mary not to trust, and to especially suspect pretty words and flirtation and admiration. Because she was wary, skeptical, pragmatic, and determined to marry wisely, she assumed she was cold-hearted.

    I had hoped her actions would show that she wasn’t as cold as she thought herself to be, but I clearly failed to do so adequately. This is probably because (shock!) I am not the genius Jane Austen was. Austen was able to make flawed heroines, such as Lizzy Bennett and Marianne Dashwood and Emma Woodhouse, supremely likeable in spite of their folly or missteps or even admissions of their own culpability. I was trying hard to do that with Mary, and my limited success is part and parcel with my limited experience (skill??) as a novelist.

    However, now that Mary has had her heart veritably annihilated by Edmund’s rejection, she has a much greater awareness of her own sentiments. I am hoping that in the sequel to Mansfield Parsonage my poor Mary Crawford will be much more likable. She is certainly much more humble and aware that she can be hurt than before.

    I will keep firmly in mind not to wander off down historical primrose paths again in the next one, and will hopefully produce a better novel. Isn’t that any writer’s goal? To improve? To strive to be the best one can be?

    I’ll probably still snark on characters I don’t like tho … I am just that kinda gal 😉

    Again, thank you SO MUCH for reviewing my novel and I am SO GLAD you liked it!!

    •  

      Thank you so much for your kind comment, Kyra, and for reading my review! I’m so thankful that your wrote this kind of story and I am very grateful for the opportunity to read it! 🙂 I love that you tried to stay true to Jane Austen’s vision, and I’m sure that it wasn’t easy at times to have the freedom to change or do what you want. So looking forward to the sequel of Mansfield Parsonage!

  9.  

    I have this on my “Wish List”. Thanks for the review. You always help me decide about books I have not yet read as you point out the “likes” and “not so fond so” parts.

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