First book of 2005 finished!

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Finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen last night. It is the January selection for my reading group, so I had to be finished before next Wednesday.

Mansfield Park is not one of the favorites among Austen's novels for most readers. But I enjoyed it very much. And I think it has some important things to think about for us in modern society.

But first, I'd like to highlight something that I found enchanting. It is a scene where Henry Crawford is attempting to woo Fanny Price, the novel's heroine. She has grave misgivings about his character, and has refused his offer of marriage, even though it would be a marriage of great "advantage" to her. She cannot love him; her heart effectively belongs to her cousin Edmund. But Mr. Crawford perseveres. And what does he do that makes a little inroad into her heart? He reads aloud! Try this:

She seemed determined to be interested by nothing else. But taste was too strong in her. She could not abstract her mind five minutes; she was forced to listen; his reading was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme. To good reading, however, she had been long used; her uncle read well, her cousins all, Edmund very well, but in Mr. Crawford's reading there was a variety of excellence beyond what she had ever met with........

and later

The subject of reading aloud was further discussed. The two young men were the only talkers, but they, standing by the fire, talked over the too common neglect of the qualification, the total inattention to it, in the ordinary school-system for boys, the consequently natural yet in some instances almost unnatural, degree of ignorance and uncouthness of men, of sensible and well-informed men, when suddenly called to the necessity of reading aloud, which had fallen within their notice, giving instances of blunders, and failures with their secondary causes, the want of management of the voice, of proper modulation and emphasis, of foresight and judgment, all proceeding from the first cause: want of early attention and habit; and Fanny was listening again with great entertainment......

To be wooed by being read to! Now THAT, my friends, is romantic.


Oh, I love Mansfield Park! The bit at the end about learning our "duty to the lessons of affliction" is a quote I think of often when I am frustrated. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

You are a very fast reader, aren't you?


my husband once read the whole of The accidental tourist to me. I have never felt so beloved.

Very nice excerpt. Reading to my kids has always been a pleasure... I'll have to try this new (old) idea. :)

I was wondering how one learns to read aloud in the proper manner? :)

Sarah, I would think by practice, practice, practice.

One of the great resources for reading aloud to your children is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I used it extensively when we started homeschooling. For YEARS (at least through all the middle school years--until he was 14 or so) I read aloud to Zteen every day at lunch time.

The good thing about Mr. Trelease's book is that he realizes that not every good book is a good read ALOUD book. While his lists do not, by necessity, then, comprise the entire list of books I think should be read, they are a great start with ones to read aloud.

The funniest part of reading aloud was our way of handling the sad parts. I am a cry-er. Big time. So, once Zteen got to the point where he could read himself, I would read until I got to a part that made me cry. Then he would read silently through that part while I got hold of myself, then I would continue on.

Those times are priceless. And I believe they helped make Zteen the reader he is today.

Oh, and I would say that the book has undergone multiple revisions over time (as any book with booklists in it must). Be sure you look at the books on the list before you purchase. You might be happier with an older edition from 1/2 Price Books, if the newish stuff added is objectionable.

I have no way of knowing whether it is or isn't, but a lot of the new kid books are on the dreckish side.

There is prose that is impossible to read aloud, e.g., children's books with the "Sesame Street" logo which have been inflicted upon us as gifts on occasion. I tried, and I'm a very good reader, but they would not be read.

Then there's prose that practically reads itself and provides abundant sensual delights. Patrick O'Brian and Antoinette Bosco come to mind. Dr. Bosco's children's book The Jesus Garden is written in perfect prose that somehow even feels good in the mouth when it's pronounced.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on January 13, 2005 8:54 AM.

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