Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A cute, modern-day take on Mansfield Park, Jane Austen‘s classic novel of one girl’s struggles in dealing with the rich, who may or may not have her best interests at heart.
In Seeking Mansfield, Finley Price (the modern-day counterpart of the original Fanny Price) is satisfied with her life. She lives in Chicago with the Bertrams, who had taken her when she was younger, because of some horrible, past experiences. Finley, though, manages to occupy her time by working on whatever may help her attain her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater, and all with the help of her best friend, Oliver Bertram (Edmund).
But then comes the arrival of Emma and Harlan Crawford (Mary and Henry Crawford), famous teen movie stars, and the Bertram’s new next-door neighbors. With their arrival comes the beginnings of new relationships – like that of Oliver and Emma, and Harlan and Juliette Bertram (Maria Bertram).
While this all puts a strain on Finley’s friendship with Oliver, his and Emma’s relationship only seems to be growing for the better.
But then there’s the matter of Harlan and Juliette. It doesn’t take long for his attention to turn to the quiet Finely, who is not at all interested in him, and he decides to challenge himself being having her fall in love with him. Of course, with her continued disinterest in him, he ends up falling in love with her for real, and does manage to eventually win her over.
As time goes on, Finley’s relationship with Harlan reveals part of him that Finley finds herself uncomfortable with, thus leading her to wonder if maybe he’s not the right one for her…no, that person just might be closer to home.
Though Mansfield Park is not the most popular of Austen’s books, I always held a special place in my heart for Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram, both the bearers of quiet, kind, and caring demeanors.
But when it comes to Finely and Oliver being their modern-day counterparts…I had a bit of a hard time with them.
I liked Finely, since she seemed to play her role as the virtuous, sensible heroine well enough; but when it comes to Oliver…I just couldn’t find myself liking him all that much. Honestly, he is very similarly written to Edmund, that it stands to reason, if I liked Edmund, I’d like Oliver, right?
Somehow, Edmund’s traits didn’t seem to translate well in this modern representation of him. While Edmund’s romance seemed so innocent and sweet, Oliver’s romance with Emma just seemed to come across as a lustful teenager, who never really seemed to see Emma and her annoying, shallow nature.
If you hadn’t already figured, I wasn’t a fan of Emma, nor Harlan, and nothing the two did could change my mind.
Actually, I’ll admit that I disliked most of the characters in this book, but that could really just be a testament to to how well Kate Watson has written them, so that they really invoke the mannerisms of a snobbish upper caste. So in that sense, they’re written so well, that I really disliked them.
I’ll say that I did like the idea of Finley’s parentage being written differently than that of Fanny’s, and felt it did give the story some added intensity that did make for a more interesting turn of events when they were drawn upon.
Finally – super late, I know – I figure I should say that if you’ve never read Mansfield Park, then you might really like this book and all of it’s cute, romantic feelings. You’d also be able to look at this with fresh eyes. In my case, I had read the original, so I couldn’t help but do a lot of comparing, which didn’t really work out in this books favor, in my case.
In conclusion, though this wasn’t exactly my favorite book, I won’t not recommend it, because as I’d previously said, this is a cute book, so you just might ending up liking it more than I did.
Thank you to Flux via NetGalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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