Friday, June 23, 2017

Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram's son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver's constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she'd finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram's, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver's stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn't want to be won, and she doesn't want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver's heart—and keep her own—she'll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.
I kind of pounce on all Jane Austen retellings, particularly of the YA variety. That being said, Mansfield Park was never my favorite. And I knew going into this that I probably wouldn’t love the main character. I wasn’t sure though because I don’t recall ever having read a retelling of this particular Austen story.
So, did I hate the main character? Yes, yes I did. And I kind of understand why people don’t do a lot of retellings of this story. What’s the modern version of taking in a poor ward with no income and raising her alongside your family, but not quite alongside them? I guess this is the modern equivalent (mixed with movie stars) and it wasn’t really working for me.
Fanny Price was never my favorite character because she was too good. She was a lot like Cinderella without the dream of going to the ball, without any dreams at all. In fact, she believes she deserves all the terrible stuff her “step-family” pushes on her, and that she should have no wants of her own. I can’t stand this character. I need a good main character who knows she deserves the best, no matter her social/economic standing. I need Elizabeth Bennet. And Finley was almost worse than Fanny Price. Imagine a teen girl who works as a janitor, who only accepts hand-me-downs, who doesn’t own a smart phone, who never stands up for herself. I almost stopped reading on many occasions.
The weird thing though is I never stopped. I read this story super quickly. I knew that Fanny Price eventually grew to be a stronger character and I knew there was no way Finley could get any worse. And I was right. She learns to apply for what she wants and to accept that she deserves dreams and respect too. It just takes an awfully long time to get there.
I know this sounds super cheesy, but I loved the teen celebrity element of the plot. I loved that the neighbors were stars. I think their characters (which weren’t the greatest) held my attention a lot better than the main character did. It’s kinda weird to be more invested in the story by the bad guys than by the main character, but I was. It was like reading a super dishy magazine and not being able to stop.
I liked how the author tied in the theater element. I liked the volunteering thing too. Because of course a modern day Fanny Price would reserve any free time to helping others. I loved making all the connections to the original Austen work, which I remember a lot more strongly than I thought I did.
I read this book super fast. I hated the main character. I knew I’d hate her, and I did. But, I kept reading because I kind of fell for the bad characters and the whole teen movie star sideline. I loved making the old Austen connections. And I like that Finley did eventually become a somewhat stronger main character. I give this a 6/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment