a tidy number, a perfectly cut and polished little gem with just enough facets. But that’s not the half of it. This exquisite novel is bigger and more ambitious than it appears. It’s that rare book that reminds us what reading is all about.
I started the book on the subway last month. After two full commutes (morning and evening), I had to put it down in favor of a book for school. So far it’s smart and utterly charming, and I don’t know why I haven’t picked it back up.
For Austen lovers, there’s a bonus at the end. Fowler has compiled a sampling of reactions to Austen’s work from the author’s family and from critics, writers and literary figures. In 1980, for instance, Vladimir Nabokov reportedly said:
Miss Austen’s is not a violently vivid masterpiece … Mansfield Park … is the work of a lady and the game of a child. but from that workbasket comes exquisite needlework art, and there is a streak of marvelous genius in that child
Austen’s mother didn’t like Mansfield Park as much as Pride and Prejudice and “[t]hought Fanny insipid.”