"A lady" was the attributed author of 1811’s smash success, Sense and Sensibility. That lady was Jane Austen, one of the novel’s earliest masters and still a worldwide favorite. Any fan of Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, or the works of Henry James has Austen at least partly to thank for it.
Following her first successes, Austen wrote Mansfield Park,arguably her most complex effort. Performed in a grandmotherly alto by Flo Gibson (who has over one thousand audiobooks to her credit!), Mansfield Parkintroduces the listener to Fanny Price, that shy, intelligent, lower-class girl who, at age 10, is sent to live with her rich extended family. Listeners experience Fanny’s growth into a young woman with all the irony, despair, and humor that entails.
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"Mansfield Park, a chronicle of the trials of Fanny Price, is very recommendable....Narrator Flo Gibson reads clearly and meaningfully, distinguishing voices, and does justice to the humor and style of Austen's prose." (Library Journal)
I could not listen to this great story because of her reading. My blood pressure went up just trying to understand her. Audible do another unabridged version of this book without FLO so I can listen to this classic.
I always believed in reading Unabridged versions of books. But in this case - go for the abridged one. There is truly little in this book that could not be cut out without making the book better. (And I stand by this assertion, even though I'm an avid Austen fan.) Also, I believe there are Abridged versions available with a different narrator - an advantage if there ever was one.
It's amasing that Jane Austen would produce such an unsimpathetic heroine and hero. Both of them are such prudes you really want them to get together just so they wouldn't spoil anyone else's life. The hero is a spoil sport and exessively full of himself, and the heroine... well, lets just say a doormat would have more interesting a character. The only time she grows a back bone it is to refuse an offer of marriage that she should have accepted. I simply don't understand her. Furthermore, she doesn't grow as a character through the text! In Jane Austen's heroine that is unprecedented! She is just the proper, self efacing (and which is worse, extremely and sinserely self efacing) feminine ideal. As with any angel - it is hard to believe she is alive. Oh, if I could only bury her in the first chapters of the book...
The narrator only adds to the trial that reading this book presents. She speaks clearly, but with such tones and inflections as to make you dislike EVERY character. If you are going to listen to this book - at least aleviate the task by choosing another narrator.
I finished listening to this version after starting it about three days ago. I really like Flo Gibson's voice as it is soothing and doesn't give you a headache. Usually I can only stand to listen to male voices as the female ones are too shrill. I like her accent and since she enunciates clearly; I can understand everything she says.
I remember reading this book to myself when I was in my early teens, but I don't remember that it had such an anti-climactic finish. The ending did leave something to be desired and for that reason I give the story 4 stars instead of 5. I was disappointed to find there was no final scene between Edmond and Fanny, their story is wrapped up in narration as are all the other story threads. Since I watched several movie versions, I must assume that it was one of those that I was remembering regarding the ending.
This is another classical "book is better than the movie" examples. It is infinitely more enjoyable to have Jane Austen's own words instead of some modern version, even in spite of the ending. I do recommend the unabridged version for that reason and this version in particular because of Flo Gibson's excellent reading voice.
One of the great pleasures of Jane Austen is how she uses her cool, cultured tone to set up the little digs she takes at her characters. Flo Gibson catches that slight air of detachment. And, of course, it's Mansfield Park -- maybe not Jane's best (I'm sure there are arguments about that), but still Jane, and any Jane is better than almost everyone else.
Perhaps I would enjoy this plot more if the reader had more lively delivery. A generally sad story, of course, in which foolishness is justified by 'social restraint'. A wonder the English ever got together! Still worth reading for the social context.
It's true that the quality of her voice left something to desire for, but otherwise she plays the characters well and is animated enough to draw me into the book. She has given life to most of the characters, and it's enjoyable to listen to the book. I thought she's much better than the narrator of Emma--who has made Emma quite a lanquid and sometimes conceited woman, and whose reading totally lacks the vitality and humor that I have always attributed to the book.
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