When ten-year-old Fanny Price is plucked from squalor to be raised in comfort at elegant Mansfield Park, home of her well-off relatives the Bertrams, only her teenage cousin Edmund notices her homesickness and distress. He comforts her, instructs her, and helps her to become a competent, self-possessed young woman. Fanny thrives as a useful and happy member of the household, while her natural feelings of gratitude and respect for Edmund grow into something deeper—but then trouble arrives at Mansfield Park.
Rich, sophisticated Londoners Henry and Mary Crawford are a brother-and-sister act to be reckoned with. Mary sets her romantic sights on Edmund, and Fanny is faced not only with a powerful rival, but also with Edmund’s need to talk endlessly about his infatuation with the dark-eyed beauty. Forced to hide her abiding love for Edmund, Fanny must soon fend off amorous advances from a most unwelcome source—advances that Edmund encourages her to accept. With further help from Henry and Mary, even a bad situation can become much worse.
Mansfield Park features some of Jane Austen’s most acute satire. An extended exploration of the interplay between manners, sexuality, and character in what Austen depicts as a moral decline of the English upper classes, it is arguably her most complex and socially aware novel, as well as the one with the widest canvas.