Of Books and Coffee and Tshirts

The past few weeks have been busy but full of good things. One is that I finished my semester! Yay! Another is this adorable t-shirt from Coffee Hearted. You guys, this is my life motto. All day, everyday. How about you?

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Ok, But First Coffee shirt c/o Coffee Hearted. 

And how about this super adorable skirt? I bought it on clearance at Target and have been impressed with the nicer fabric quality that is being used with the Who What Wear line.

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I love pieces that are both interesting and useful for an everyday wardrobe, and this skirt fits both nicely.

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Another nice thing that happened last week was that I had some time off of work, so was able to visit to a local coffee shop. If you live in the Fort Worth area, I highly recommend Kindred Coffee Co.! There drinks are delicious and the food is pretty scrumptious as well. And the interior is relaxing and lovely. Do check it out!

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Now on to books…

Jane Austen has been quite popular on Instagram lately (okay, whatever, she’s been popular for the past 200 years!) and I got into a discussion with some people over her book, Mansfield Park. Now you see, MP isn’t a favorite Austen. It doesn’t have the witty, beautiful, and exciting heroine or the handsome, cultivated, fabulously wealthy hero. In fact, little, plain, mousy Fanny Price is the heroine. The “hero” (if you can call him one) is not dashing, wealthy, or even likeable. In fact, the most relateable characters are the supporting players in the story, and the plot is almost painful at times, rather than the lark that Pride and Prejudice or Emma is to the reader. In short, this novel is as anti-Austen as a novel penned by Austen can be. It defies her own ideas and successful narratives.

Over the years, critics have wondered why she wrote this story. Since it was penned following the successes of her two previous novels (Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility), one wonders if she wasn’t trying to flex her writing muscles and develop characters and a plot with a formula vastly different from what she’d previously used. If that was her plan, it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that hardly anyone likes this story. Even in the few film adaptations, screenwriters and directors have felt the need to spice up and even change the story in order to keep audiences interested.

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You know what? I’m one of the few readers who likes Mansfield Park. Maybe because I like going for the underdog (I even remember defending it to my bookclub years ago). Maybe it’s because I want to support Ms. Austen for not following her own formula and for creating a novel that bears much scrutiny in order to understand it. And maybe it’s because it is the only novel in which Jane Austen vividly portrays subjects not common in her other books. In Mansfield Park, she writes about poverty, conveys strong moral opinions, and shows the reader some negative aspects of family  relationships.

Happily, I’m not alone in my views and have found some articles to pass on to you!

“…to read Mansfield Park as a kind of Middlemarch is to miss the far more complicated story Austen has told. Fanny Price’s story is less about her individual virtue, or her richer relatives’ lack thereof, but about class, about privilege in its most insidious form—before the term ever cropped up in contemporary social justice discourse.” Tara Isabella Burton, In Defense of Fanny PriceThe Paris Review.

“Mansfield Park continues to draw so much discussion, debate, and intense visceral responses because it has continued to speak to us for two hundred years—perhaps because the problems illustrated in the novel are human problems, timeless in that they have existed in some form or another as long as we have; or perhaps because the author’s intentions for her readers are virtually unknowable and yet remain the crowning prize for which to strive.  The language of Austen’s novels is deceptively simple, but as one reads and rereads one comes to see the complexity of the language and depth of the themes and storylines.” – Melissa Burns, Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park: Determining Authorial IntentionPersuasions (a publication of the Jane Austen Society).

“It has always been a deal-breaker in my relationships. It’s impossible for me to love anyone who doesn’t love (or at least admire) Jane Austen’s least-loved novel, Mansfield Park, published 200 years ago this month. Why it’s her most unpopular book remains a source of mystery to me. It’s her sexiest one, without doubt.” Paula Byrne, Mansfield Park shows the dark side of Jane Austen, The Telegraph.

I hope that whether you are already a fan or you’re someone who needs convincing that this book is worth reading, I hope you’ll pick it up and enjoy a read-through of this least-liked Austen novel.

Until next time,

Shelbi

 

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6 thoughts on “Of Books and Coffee and Tshirts

  1. Thank you, Brendan! I hope you’ll give Austen another try. Definitely consider Mansfield Park or maybe even Northanger Abbey, since it’s a gothic satire. 🙂 Let me know if you read any more of Austen’s books and what you think if you do!

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  2. Lovely post Shelbi! I have to say that I’ve only read Pride & Prejudice, and didn’t really connect with it. I’ve been a little nervous about reading anything else by Austen, but this one sounds like it might be more my style. I’ll have to check it out, thank you for interesting discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

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