A present I’ve been giving myself is to listen again to the novels of Jane Austen. I enjoy Jane Austen’s novels for her wit and writing style. I am convicted by her insights into sins of the heart.
I recently finished Mansfield Park. It is probably my favorite. I highly recommend it to teens and young adults and their parents.
Fannie Price is Austen’s heroine in Mansfield Park. Fanny grows up in the home of her aunt and uncle, who take this poor relation in so that Fanny’s parents will have one less child to feed on their small income.
Fanny’s aunt and uncle are good-hearted in some ways. However, from Fanny’s first days in their home, it is clear that she is “the least of these” in family importance. In addition to her aunt and uncle, the family includes their four children, Fanny’s four cousins. The younger son, Edmund, befriends her and becomes her sole true friend and confidant. Unlike Edmund’s brother and two sisters, he and Fanny share a strong faith and a keen desire to do what is right.
When Edmund is a young man and Fanny has almost grown into a young woman, a wealthy and carefree brother and sister come into the neighborhood for a long visit.
At first Fanny and Edmund watch as his brother and sisters fall under the bad influence of the brother and sister. Then, to her great sadness, Fanny watches as Edmund become infatuated with the visiting sister. She sees him become blind to the girl’s obvious character flaws. Later she grieves as his blindness causes him to compromise his principles.
Fanny’s heart experiences more sorrow when the visiting brother falls in love with her. Everyone else, even her uncle, think that Fanny should jump at the chance of this “good match.”
Through it all, Fanny respectfully stays true to what she knows is right. In the end, the brother and sister reveal their true character and everyone sees that Fanny was right all along.
Mansfield Park would be a great family read aloud when your children are teens or young adults. It is bound to spark good family conversations.
Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the way is broad
that leads to destruction,
and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is narrow
and the way is constricted that leads to life,
and there are few who find it.