The writings of Heather Lynn Rigaud

Welcome to Austen Nights, the home of author Heather Lynn Rigaud. Heather's writing is focused on updating the classic works of Jane Austen, taking these classic characters where they've never gone before. She welcomes you to enjoy 'Sweet Austen days and Hot Austen nights!'

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Um, Seriously?

So, I watched Mansfield Park last night. This was the 2008 version with Billie Piper. I have to disclose that I've never read Mansfield Park (it's the only Austen novel that I've not read) or seen any of the other movies. I've been warned by friends I trust that I probably wouldn't enjoy the book. I do plan on reading it, and I do own a copy of it, I've just never had the self-control to do so. (I'm really bad about skipping dentist appointments too.)

But I was familiar with the basic plot: poor cousin goes to live with rich cousins. Finds them largely depraved. Gets rewarded for virtue in the end.

Now, I have to be fair and admit that I'm not sure Billie Piper was the right choice to play Fanny Price. I've seen Billie in all the Doctor Who's she was in (which were a lot) and I'm acquainted with her work. I think she's very talented. But it's a real, REAL stretch to believe that she's supposed to 'blend in the with background'. I know they can do miracles with make-up, but they didn't in this movie. She's shiney and blonde all the way though, and no, I just don't buy that Edmond, or anyone for that matter, 'overlooked' her.

But ignoring that very real flaw, it's a really hard plot to get behind. Boring girl wins the love of boring boy, after he finds the interesting girl is just too interesting for him. Mary Crawford's crime? Not wanting to get hosed for her brother's fooling around.  Oh my, how horrid. 

Also, I have close friends who adopted their niece, under similar circumstances as Fanny and the Bertram's and the idea of the adopted girl and their son marrying is really, really wrong. I know social standards were different then, but no, I'm just not buying this. 

And I point I've learned that the movie ignored is that Fanny was also religious to the point of being judgmental. Oh, lovely.

It's all so repelling that I'd almost believe that this is Austen doing a really deep social satire that we're just not getting. To compare Elizabeth Bennet to Fanny Price, it's difficult to believe they came from the same author.  But then I remember Elinor Dashwood, and I have to believe it is the same writer. Elinor is just too severe for my tastes, and I end up rooting for Marianne, just because I feel sorry for her.

Anyway, Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, Billie Piper, what do you all think?


  1. I haven't seen this version of Mansfield Park, but I've seen the BBC ones and the late 90s one which completely changed Fanny's character (the one that made slavery such an issue). This has always been my least favorite of the completed novels. Doormat Fanny was just to hard a heroine to accept, much less fall in love with. I'll try to get a copy of the 2008 version from my interlibrary loan, to see how it compares, but I don't expect good things after reading your blog.

  2. I'll admit they tried, but between the material and a knock-out star, it's a hard sell. One of the problems with JA's material and bringing it to movies is it's really hard to make the 'star' of the show not be the most beautiful person on the screen. And that's many of JA's heroines. I think Emma and Marianne are the only really beautiful ones.