“The following appeared online at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (www.stltoday.com) on St. Patrick’s Day. Jane Henderson is the book editor for the Post-Dispatch and writes about books and publishing at her “Book Blog.”
Readers from the local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America will gather March 29 at the Tavern of Fine Arts.
Last year the group had a good crowd for its celebration of “P&P.” But as member Jim Heine notes, Fanny Price is no Elizabeth Bennet:
“After being dazzled by the incandescent Elizabeth Bennet, encountering Fanny Price is something of a shock. Elizabeth is brilliant and witty; Fanny, reserved, reticent, occasionally fearful (with good reason), and even, at times, priggish. And as the nexus of the story, Mansfield Park itself is far different, for example, from Longbourn, Netherfield, Rosings, or Pemberley. You find no comic relief at Mansfield Park, as there is in the various homes of Pride and Prejudice—no Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Collins to laugh at, no Mary Bennet to amuse you, no incisive retorts to make you smile. Where Pride and Prejudice offers joy, Mansfield Park reminds the reader on almost every page that Fanny’s fate is held by people whose moral compasses are in doubt, and who seem bent on using Fanny to serve their selfish ends. It probably takes a second reading of Mansfield Park to appreciate Fanny’s character and plight, and to appreciate Austen’s construction of the novel.”
Toward the end of “Mansfield Park,” Fanny does receive some good news — which almost sends the meek one searching for a “cordial.” In honor of Fanny, the Tavern will create its own drink for the event.
In a press release, the JASNA chapter says
“JASNA members and friends will read favorite scenes from ‘Mansfield Park’, first published in London by Thomas Egerton on May 9, 1814, and offer insights on its themes and relevance for today. For more information, e-mail or call Rose Marie Nester, JASNA St. Louis regional coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-752-3752. Lunch will be available after 11 a.m. and throughout the afternoon from the Tavern of Fine Arts menu. The event is free and open to the public.”
The event is from 1-3 p.m. March 29. The Tavern of Fine Arts is at 313 Belt Avenue.
Jane Henderson is book editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow her online at stltoday.com/books and on Twitter @stlbooks.