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BookRatMisty

BookRatMisty

Murder at Mansfield Park

Murder at Mansfield Park - Lynn Shepherd In Murder at Mansfield Park, Lynn Shepherd has taken Austen's notoriously least popular work and turned it on its head. Rather than take the typical approach and write a spin-off, where the story continues on or follows a minor character, Shepherd presents an alternate telling of the story, one in which downtrodden wet blanket Fanny is a pampered and officious heiress, and Julia Bertram seems to have more in common with the Fanny we know. Mary Crawford (one of my favorite characters in Austen, honestly) seems to share a backbone with Lizzie Bennet; she is a thinking woman, very aware of the follies and inconsistencies of the people around her. She is perhaps a bit more gentle than Lizzie, but she has something of the same spirit, and I think Shepherd succeeds in her goal of convincing the reader to just go with liking Mary and hating Fanny, which is something that creeps up on you when reading Mansfield Park.But Murder at Mansfield Park isn't just a straight-forward alternate reality retelling of Austen's classic; it's also a full-blown whodunit murder mystery, with the country atmosphere and the self-absorbed people creating a sort of "Clue" atmosphere. I'm not sure that this book will be to the tastes of Jane purists (who would possibly gasp themselves into a swoon at some of the goings-on), but truly, the attention to detail in the language, and the character and world building are quite impressive. When I first sat down to review this, I started to say that this could have been it's own story independent of Jane, because so much is changed and wholly different than Jane's work. But I realized I didn't want to say that; it's not quite what I mean: the story does stand on its own, independent of Jane, however, I feel like having the known-Jane characters adds this fantastic layer that wouldn't be there otherwise. It's very clever and interesting, a neat little blending of Regency romance and murder most foul: as if Jane Austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a warped little lovechild. And if that doesn't have you intrigued, I have not done my job...