“An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done” – Mansfield Park, Jane Austen.
The girl must have lost her wits – had lost them, indeed. That was proven, by her rejection of such an excellent, undeservedly excellent parti as Edmund Bertram. Mrs Norris nodded to herself decisively, the fresh brisk breeze blowing colour into her pendulous cheeks. – Three Letters & A Broken Engagement (Volume 1 of Oh, Fanny!: A Mansfield Park Variation by Alex Ankarr.
The Halloween activities of the kids and their dads’ involvement was fun, and so was the involvement of the alien. (I felt a lot of sympathy for the alien, being dragged along by a bunch of hyped-up sugar-fuelled kids. No wonder it was apprehensive!) A fun light-hearted read.
I have loved this book for years now, but… honestly, what a cad Rochester is. I know it’s not precisely an original observation, but still. Jane deserved better. And only a blinkered Charlotte, with exactly the narrowly circumscribed inculcated nineteenth century notion of a woman’s lot she ascribes to Jane, could possibly think that ending a happy one.
And yet, it’s still one of barely a handful of books in my lifetime that have reduced me to feeling off my head while reading it, light-headed and nutty and unsteady as if I’d had a drink or two. What can you do? A massively annoying permanent classic.
This gets an extra star just because it’s Austen, and I can’t bring myself to rate Jane Austen lower than that. This is the only major Austen work I’ve never managed to finish, until now. What a labour, almost a waste of effort, except at least I know better than to ever pick this book up again. I’ll just re-read Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion for the nth time instead. What a pair of insipid limp rags Elinor and Marianne are. Even Fanny Price is Nicki Minaj combined with Sharon Horgan, compared to Elinor. (I quite like Mansfield Park although obviously Fanny should have run off with Henry Crawford instead of mooning around over Edmund. Fanny is all right, she’s a bright spark, underrated.)
You may deduce from the above that I didn’t care for it much, but it’s still Austen. She’s still a genius, but no-one could convince me this qualifies as essential reading. Forget it, try George Eliot or a Bronte instead.
This is definitely not the best Patricia Briggs book you could begin with, but it still pains me to rate it so low. Actually it’s more of a 2.5. There are some good things in this book, and they should have been filleted out and re-stitched together into a much better book. Unfortunately it begins to feel as if Briggs has got herself into a J.K. Rowling-type situation, where no-one dares to touch the Holy Manuscript of Truth and Genius. A ruthless and effective editor could have made a truly great book out of what’s worthwhile here. But it doesn’t read as if one was ever given the opportunity.
The absolute worst thing here is the fight scene between Adam and a twisted Euro-trashy vampire. Dear God, this is the worst-written literary violence I have ever read. Every tiny little move is over-choreographed, there are paragraphs and paragraphs inside Adam’s head and dissecting the moves, motivations and mental states of both participants, and then there’s the bathos! My Lord! A tablecloth is involved, and it’s simply impossible to read a supposedly deadly serious and bloodthirsty scene while vampires are playing toreador with tablecloths. And sweeping them off tables while leaving the china intact! Like terrible 70s magicians!
In a way it actually is so awful that it’s great. But not great in the way you want a Patricia Briggs novel to be.
There are too many new characters introduced, and even that might have worked if they’d been given any depth. Also a brand-new werewolf pack, shown to be at least somewhat trustworthy and ethical, are dismissed and vilified in the final pages of the book, a bewildering turnaround.
Silence Fallen isn’t awful, it isn’t truly dire, there are things worth reading here. They often come from Mercy’s internal monologue on her own past history, and her musings on human nature and history. It’s a shame I had to search so hard for them. But realistically, if you love Mercy – and I still do – you’re going to read this book anyway.
Honestly, I’m sticking around because I’m still waiting for the Bran-centric book where his emotional vitality is restored and he finds a new love. Preferably a pretty male werewolf, but either way I think he needs a passionate romantic renewal. Can we have that, please?
Just the thing – if your thing is sensitive, middle-aged, white over-educated British guys in the media, agonizing for hundreds of pages about their marriages and affairs, but – actually, normally I’d be up for that. At least if Iris Murdoch was the one writing it.
I don’t know why Barnes gets on my tits so much, but he does – him and Amis and McEwan and all that clever-clever shower. I think perhaps because I always feel as if he needs cheering up, dragging out to get plastered and forget his troubles. I read novels to avoid that kind of connection and responsibility, thanks. Don’t I have enough to worry about?
Of course it’s impossible to give Mansfield Park five stars. Even though I exasperatedly love Fanny, and love-hate Mrs Norris, and disapprove-of-at-the-same-time-as-I’m-charmed-by the Crawfords, Henry and Mary both.
Because Fanny marries Edmund, and how can anyone five-star that?
With every re-read, it’s like heading towards the tunnel, awaiting the oncoming train with horrified anticipation. And yet hoping – praying – against all knowledge and experience, that maybe it’ll be different this time.
Oh, please, Fanny! Just this once, for me, run off with delightful, deplorable Henry Crawford! For me!
Fanny is underrated, I’ll just note. Compared to Elinor Dashwood, Fanny is half Beyoncé and half Patti Smith, a soft-hearted sex-minx with a nice nature, a cultured mind and a passionate heart.
ETA: I forgot to mention that Edmund is a sanctimonious pudding.