Home > 4 Stars, Adult, Book Review, Fiction, Historical, Jane Austen > Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd

I first heard about this book just from perusing the lists on LibraryThing.  But then, I won it on the Early Reviewers page!  I was so excited 1) because I never win anything, and 2) because I read a lot of Jane Austen “fan fiction”– sequels, rewrites, and the like.  So I fancy myself knowledgeable about this particular genre.

I love the word “fancy” as a verb– it seems so Austen-esque.

By the way, don’t you just fancy the cover?  It’s lovely, I think.

Anyway, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park.” –Lionel Trilling

In 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.

Combining genuine Austen elements—the same characters, and the same episodes, but each with a new twist—with a murder mystery scenario, and complete with romance, intrigue, and crimes of the heart, Murder at Mansfield Park is an irreverant new twist on an old classic.

Austen-lovers have long been debating Fanny Price.  She’s either loved or hated.  Some MP fans love her romanticism and respect her gentility.  Personally, I spent most of the original Mansfield Park want to throttle her and tell her to get up off her rear and take control of her life.

I didn’t like Fanny Price in this book either, but you’re not really supposed to.  She’s the spoiled, horrible, and mean one, while Mary Crawford is the heroine—more closely resembling Elizabeth Bennet than the original cunning, condescending character she’s named after.

I’m usually not a murder mystery reader, but I really enjoyed this one!  And it wasn’t obvious who the killer was.  (Although I must say, I’m not terribly observant when it comes to these things, and I don’t really try to hard to figure it out, either.)  If Jane Austen had written murder mysteries, this book is exactly what it would be like.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me this book.  I really enjoyed it and will be recommending it to all my Jane Austen-loving friends.

I also really enjoyed hearing Lynn Shepherd’s background about the book, which you read here.

Four stars = fabulous fun!  Well-written in Jane Austen’s own style, and much better than the original Mansfield Park.

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  1. July 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Mansfield Park is the only Jane Austen book I’ve had a chance to read so far. I’ll have to check this book out since you said it’s better than the original.

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