Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
|Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Besutiful Books|
Straight away the reader is plunged into the language of Austen's era, so dotted all over are such rather flowery phrases as ... conjugal felicity ... and ... her family were not consumptive... We are also introduced to a host of characters and although Shepherd has thoughtfully provided right at the beginning Names of the Principal Persons, it does bombard and perhaps confuse the reader a little. I must admit to referring to this dratted list time and time again. It does break the flow at the beginning of the novel. But, several chapters in and you're right into the story thereafter.
Miss Fanny Price (as you might expect) stands out from most of the other characters. She comes across as feisty, single-minded and also rather arrogant. She appears to be loved and loathed in equal measure by those around her. And although she is technically an 'orphan' she is brought up by her next-of-kin and she seems to be coping with life pretty well. She's engaged to be married and is in line to inherit a large sum of money. But - is she totally happy? It would appear that Fanny Price would wish to have her cake and eat it. A choice will have to be made at some stage and sooner rather than later.
I found that a whole bunch of characters are really very much on the periphery, upholstery if you like, padding out the main story. You really tend to forget about them somewhat. But for me, there were two striking characters in this novel, the Crawford brother and sister. They're short-term guests hot-foot from the bright lights of London and they waste no time in deciding that life in the country is dull, dull, dull. Or is it? Nevertheless, they intend to have some fun and liven things up a bit. And certainly sparks fly between Mary Crawford and Fanny Price. If I say that Mary is described by one member of Fanny's extended family as ... vainest, most affected, husband-hunting butterfly ... I think you may just get the measure of her.
The language throughout is delightful and lends a particular charm to the novel. Wholly in keeping with the times but I can see that Shepherd is having fun now and again, dragging out perfectly innocent conversations to almost comic proportions. Lovely stuff.
The actual 'murder' doesn't happen till almost half-way through, so there's plenty of nice, suspenseful lead-up writing. You know it's going to happen at some time, but you don't know exactly when. And to add to all this drama there's lots of furtive looks and lowered eyelashes throughout.
There's a lovely section when someone suggests that, post-murder, the police have to be called in. Must they? Those uncouth people ... Very entertaining. All's well as the upper-middle classes keep the lower orders in their rightful place. There are some nice twists and turns along the way before the whole unhappy and complex story is laid bare before us. And some lives are changed forever. In essence, a rollicking good story.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this appeals then try Improper Relations by Janet Mullany.
You can read more book reviews or buy Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd at Amazon.com.
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