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"Frances Barber offers a sterling performance, bringing life and sparkle to each character....Barber convincingly shifts from lord of the manor to sniveling servitude at the change of a sentence. And her narrative passages transparently tie the whole family together into one beautiful package." (AudioFile)
Wanda the artist
The only sadness I feel for this book is that it is OVER! I loved it. I felt, because of the recent movie by this title, that I would not enjoy this as much as other Jane Austen's book. However, it had been years since I had read the book. As usual the book is different from the movie! I loved the REAL story as read by the narrator. I LOVED the way the narrator allowed one to FEEL how Fanny felt, how Mary sounded and acted, and how all the other characters had their own personalities along with the voice rendition. Buy it, you will love it!
Mansfield Park is not my favorite of Austen's works. The heroine herself is nervous and mousy, and the secondary characters are rarely redeemable in any sense. However, Frances Barber's reading of this novel lends it some entertainment that I had not got from reading it to myself. Her precise English diction threw me off for the first chapter or so, but then it grew on me and by the end, I added her name to my (very short) list of favorite narrators. I am pleased with this recording and when the time comes to listen through all of Austen's novels again, I will look forward to Mansfield Park almost as much as I do to the rest of Austen's books.
France's Barber is the best reader ever for Jane Austen--just wonderful. Sensitive, tasteful, and with a sly sense of humor, just like the writing!
Many fans of "Pride and Prejudice" or "Emma" have a difficult time enjoying Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park." The first part revolves around the disapproval of the heroine, the impoverished Fanny Price, for an amateur theatrical performance arranged by her cousins and their alluring guests, Henry and Mary Crawford. Fanny's wealthy uncle Sir Thomas Bertram, is away, and the young people feel their inhibitions evaporate -- all except Fanny. But if it's hard for modern readers to sympathize with the particular situation, the larger issues involve the character of these young adults: when the parents aren't looking, what kind of integrity, self-control, and sympathy for others will they exhibit? How will they handle jealousy and disappointment--and will they sacrifice the happiness of another for their own advantage?As the plot thickens, Austen brings out the underlying character of Fanny, her cousins, and their suitors with her mixture of charm, satire, and 'regulated hatred.' She complicates the issue by showing how a character's bad upbringing and social surroundings can turn a good nature sour. Character will out, and the play-acting early in the book leads to life-altering choices by the end. Of all her novels, "Mansfield Park" may provoke the most reflection on the roles of nature and nurture in human character.Frances Barber's reading is superb, with subtle vocal changes to distinguish the characters -- all pitch perfect, to align with their inner qualities.
"Mansfield Park" is probably my favourite Jane Austen novel, so it was nice to find this unabridged recording. Frances Barber generally does a very good job of the the narration, and I enjoyed listening to it very much. My only complaint about her narration is that she made Fanny Price sound as if she was about twelve. To modern readers, Fanny is probably the most difficult to understand of Austen's heroines, because she is so timid and self-effacing; but though she constantly aims to please the rich relations who patronise her and take her for granted, she is actually one of those quiet people with a hidden strength. Jane Austen intends us to admire Fanny for her integrity (which comes from neither nature--her sordid home at the Portsmouth naval base--nor nurture, in the hedonistic surroundings of Mansfield Park). It's hard to do that when the narrator makes her bleat like a child.
I love this book, but Frances Barber's performance was irritating to my ears. I'm a musician and very picky, so maybe it's just me -- but the pacing was odd and I did not like how she interpreted the characters with her inflection. It was grating, overdone and unnatural to my ears.
I love this story! I'm my humble opinion, I believe it is one of the best of Austin's works. It is a story that is as wonderful as it is timeless, and a story that many generations have been able to relate to and be transported by into another time and another place. Truly a masterpiece!
Mansfield Park is full of so many delightful characters that a second listening would certainly be worthwhile. The performance by Frances Barber is superb.
The story takes many interesting and unforeseen turns.
Frances Barber was definitely up to the challenge of differentiating so many important characters making each one come alive to the listener.
I found myself amused by Jane Austen's frequent dashes of irony.
Although several performances of this work are available through Audible, this one would have to rank among the best.
"Very enjoyable but check narration"
This is not my favourite Jane Austen book (Pride & Prejudice is). None of the characters is particularly interesting, amusing or likeable, and the heroine, Fanny Price, is a bit of a drip if truth be told. But it is still well worth reading for the witty and deadly way that she dissects the mores and lifestyles of the upper classes in the 19th century. Better still to have it narrated as you then really appreciate the quality of the prose - provided of course you like the narrator.
I can well see that Frances Barber will probably not be everyone's cup of tea as a narrator. She reads in a very precise, articulate and almost cut-glass accent, which comes across a bit cold at times. Personally, I think this suits the book very well; and her characterisation, particularly of the ghastly Mrs Norris, is spot on. Sound quality is faultless too.
I enjoyed the book very much, and would happily recommend it particularly to Jane Austen lovers, but I agree with the previous reviewer that it would be as well to sample the narration first - and try out some others (there are quite a few on Audible)- to make sure you are happy with it before buying.
"A good book - but not the best narration."
I studied this book many years ago at school and was keen to visit it again. It is quite unusual as the heroine is not a strong character - you really want to shake Fanny and get her to buck her ideas up!! It does not help that Frances Barber's vocalisation of Fanny is not endearing, and you begin to dread when Aunt Bertram speaks. I may be tempted to try another recording of this as I think it may improve with a different narrator.
This book was set for me when I was doing my English GCSES. I thought it was an absolutely rubbing book and not worth the time or commitment. I am not a fan of Jane Austen but pride and prejudice was far better. The reader was fine but the start is so slow an you get to the end still wondering when the book will actually heat up. I thought the protagonist Fanny was a bit pathetic and I also found it quite hard to follow the language used because it's just so old. Overall being kind I would give it 2.5 stars but the story gets a solid 1. The reader was definitely a 4 as well.
"Dreadful... I had to give up!"
I think someone who is studying Austin would find it useful.
Something entirely different... This story seemed to drag on for hours and hours going absolutely nowhere! A waste of a credit.
Some voices were okay, having such a distinctive voice I did like but at time I really wasn't sure who was talking at all.
I didn't finish it... As hard as I battled I just couldn't. I can't say it did, sorry.
I may try again one day. This story wasn't for me in any way! I have loved many Austin novels but this drags on, waffling about nothing at all and never goes anywhere. When I saw I hadn't even reached half way I HAD to ditch it!
I liked Barber's reading - plummier, more earthy and warmer than most voices cast for reading Austen novels.
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