Adult, Classics, Jane Austen, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Classic Romance

Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)

Era: early 1800s (Regency)

Setting: various places in England

Source: own a copy

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 3/5. No language (at least none that isn’t crossed out like this: by G-d), no violence. Romance, a person commits adultery (everyone is shocked, so I feel like anyone could read it because … everyone is so shocked! Great moral lesson there!).

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation.

As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever.

A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.

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I admit I didn’t enjoy Mansfield Park as much as the other Jane Austen novels. It doesn’t have the sparkle and pizazz of Pride and Prejudice or Emma, it doesn’t have the intensity of Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion, and it doesn’t have the light-hearted humor of Northanger Abbey. Yet … there’s something about it that makes it an equal to all of her novels, though definitely not superior.

Yes, it’s a bit boring. It’s a quiet, rainy-day read. It took me a long time to finish both times I read it (twice now). Yet … there’s something about it that’s appealing. It’s taken me a long time to identify it, and I’m still not sure I have, but here goes.

This story is full of people who live as they should – people who live as they shouldn’t – people who act properly socially, but rather improperly morally. All this is viewed from the quiet soul of Miss Fanny Price, who is shocked at any bad behavior, yet ever-forgiving if it’s directed at herself.

Fanny really is pure gold. She can be a bit of an Elsie Dinsmore at times, but, because this is Jane Austen not Martha Finley, we know that she’s, first and foremost, human.

Edmund … hmm. Austen did well not to mention a specific date for his change of heart. Goodness gracious, Edmund! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? MISS CRAWFORD!?!?! MISS CRAWFORD!???????? In every way she offends! How could you ever consider -!? And with Fanny right there all along -!?! Unbelievable.

Anyway, I still like you, but you’ll never be in the same league with Darcy or Knightley or Wentworth. In fact, you know what? You’re not even up there with Bingley. Bingley is way hotter than you. You know, even Ferrars was honorable and faithful. Hang yourself with your stiff collar, Edmund Bertram.

Would you believe I actually like Henry Crawford? Yeah … Willoughby, too. I’m sorry! I just feel like they could have been good guys if they weren’t … bad guys. I suppose you could say that about anyone, though, so …

Mary … I just can’t forgive her. Especially her reaction to the Maria/Henry debacle. Wow. Just wow. I mean, you weren’t awful, though you felt super fake, especially in your treatment of Fanny, but … I just can’t even think of you as ‘influenced by your evil aunt’ or something stupid like that as Edmund did.

I’m not going to go into the other characters. I loved some, hated others, and had mixed feelings for the rest. I did end up liking Sir Bertram more than I did the first time I read this book, though. He was pretty nice, and I loved his treatment of Fanny towards the end.

Overall, this was a fantastic novel, which I’d recommend for any lovers of classics. Though it’s a bit heavier than the other Austen novels, it’s definitely worth the rest, though I wouldn’t recommend it as your first Austen. 🙂

Favorite Quotes:

“We have all been more or less to blame … every one of us, excepting Fanny.”

“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” 

“If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.”

~Kellyn Roth

Adult, Classics, Historical Fiction, Maud Hart Lovelace, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Title: Emily of Deep Valley

Author: Maud Hart Lovelace

Series: Deep Valley, #2 (can definitely be read as a stand-alone, though)

Genre: Historical/Classic Romance/Literary Fiction

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult/adult)

Era: 1910s (later Edwardian)

Setting: Deep Valley, Minnesota

Publisher: Harper Trophy (first published 1950)

Source: library/now own

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 1/5. I can’t think of anything in this story that isn’t okay for all ages. I guess there’s the usual falling in love and a couple kisses (absolutely no details), but … yeah, it’s really just sweet and adorable. 🙂

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

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Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather.

Emily resigns herself to facing a lost winter, but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed.

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Wow. Just wow.

I heard that there was more to the Betsy-Tacy series a couple years back … that Betsy’s Wedding wasn’t the last one. Lovelace had written several stories about minor characters from the Betsy-Tacy series … and one about a completely new character, Emily Webster.

I had to read it.

A library trip later, I read it through in one sitting.

There is something about this book that sets it apart from even the later Betsy-Tacy books. Perhaps it has something to do with Emily, quiet, sensible, two-feet-on-the-ground Emily. Perhaps it has something to do with the message of the story … how Emily overcame her boredom, her loneliness, and her feeling of uselessness by serving others, by making things happen.

It could easily be called ‘The Blooming of Emily Webster’ if that title didn’t sound just a bit too cliché for such a perfect, adorable book. 🙂

Lets start out with Emily. She’s an awesome protagonist. At the beginning, she’s sad and just a bit pouty over the loss of her schoolmates, the feeling of uselessness as she no-longer has a place to go every day with school over.

She was never a big part of the school social circle. She was always the outcast, the girl who didn’t have a mother and father and a modern, pretty house to host friends in, but she still misses the activity, the ability to slip into the crowd and get lost in everyone else’s merriment.

Now Emily must make her own way in the world as a young woman. She thinks the only way to do that would be to go through college … but, of course, she’s wrong, because no woman in a Maud Hart Lovelace novel needs anything – not even college – to get anything done if she really sets her mind to it.

So Emily sets to work.

Another fun part of this story was Jed. Wow. The first time I read this, I didn’t see that one coming. Well, the fun thing about Lovelace’s books is that you never see the romance before it actually happens … and most the time, you have no idea who the character will marry until the end! Yet you never feel like the character is making too sudden decisions or anything like that! I wish I could write like that. 🙂

Overall, this is a must-read for … anyone. Let’s just leave it at that. 😛

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Adult, Arthur Conan Doyle, Classics, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Series: Sherlock Holmes, #1

Genre: Classic Murder Mystery

Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)

Era: Victorian

Setting: London, England and Utah, America

Source: mother owns a copy

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. Some violence and a murder, obviously. It’s not too graphic, though there are mentions of a blood smear on a wall, etc.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

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In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

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This was a simply fantastic book! I’ve never read another one like it, and I mean it this time. It’s so clever and thrilling. I’ve never had a book get me quite so riled up as this one did.

Every character is pretty well-developed – the writing is great – the plot was fast-paced and exciting. I couldn’t take my eyes of it, and I think I finished it in just a day or two, which is miraculous, considering the tiny print of the book (although it’s a pretty short story, I must admit).

I did find the sudden move to Utah a little disturbing … but, well, murder mysteries are disturbing stories! Why not have my reading experience jiggled a bit while reading one? 😛

Overall, this was a fantastic novel – and a classic at that – who I’d recommend to any lover of thrilling mysteries, common sense, deduction, etc. etc. 😉

~Kellyn Roth

Adult, Classics, Jane Austen, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Classic Romance

Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)

Era: early 1800s (Regency era)

Setting: England ~ mostly Bath

Source: free on Kindle ~ probably will buy hardbound copy soon!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 1/5. Okay for basically all ages, though the reading level is higher than most tweens can handle in my personal opinion.

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