When Fanny Price comes to live with her well-to-do cousins at Mansfield Park, the modest, retiring ten-year-old is treated condescendingly by members of the Bartram family. A poor relation, dependent on the goodwill of her aristocratic relatives, the sweet, sensitive, and frequently ignored Fanny nevertheless eventually develops into the ethical center of the family.
Trouble begins with the arrival of Mary Crawford and her brother Henry. Their sophisticated London tastes, and penchant for flirtatious activities, shatter the tranquility of the Bartram home, creating social havoc and precipitating a crisis in the family. But Fanny — always clever, graceful, and pleasant — provides a bulwark of moral strength, eventually winning her family's complete acceptance (and the love of her cousin Edmund).
Described by Lionel Trilling as the most experimental and modern of Jane Austen's works, Mansfield Park is also Austen's most serious novel, written in the full flower of the novelist's maturity. Enlivened by an amusing cast of busybodies, ne'er-do-wells, and social climbers, this acclaimed novel of early-19th-century English society will also appeal to readers as an entertaining study of the interplay between manners, education, and ethics.