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Hello, dear readers! Today the Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford duel (which began yesterday on Just Jane 1813) has come to Diary of an Eccentric. I hope you’ll weigh in on the debate. Please give a warm welcome to Lona Manning and Kyra Kramer!

Hello, I’m Lona Manning, author of A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park and author of true crime articles available here.

And I’m Kyra Kramer, author of Mansfield Parsonage and the nonfictional historical books, Blood Will Tell, The Jezebel Effect, Henry VIII’s Health in a Nutshell, and Edward VI in a Nutshell.

Lona: Please join us for the knock-down drag-out (maybe) Fanny versus Mary debate of the decade/epoch/millennium. We will take turns posing each other questions. Please feel free to join in, in the comments!

Kyra: Everyone who comments will be entered in a draw to win a gift pack of Austen goodies from Bath, England.

Was Fanny Price sweetly timid, or a backstabbing brat?

Kyra: I noticed that Fanny Price remains the heroine in your variation, A Contrary Wind, and the Crawford siblings remain the antagonists. What was it about Fanny that inspired your affection for the often-disliked heroine of Mansfield Park?

Lona: I have more respect for Fanny than affection. And more affection for the novel than for its heroine. So, why is it difficult to like Fanny? Certainly the lack of a sense of humour is an issue. Although she does quietly laugh up her sleeve at a few things.

Kyra: You didn’t find her passivity cloying? It made me gag.

Lona: I think it’s perfectly understandable that she turned out the way she turned out. Take one super-sensitive kid, who is very susceptible to being made to feel guilty and who yearns for love and approval, and raise her in Mansfield Park with an Aunt Norris and voila, you have Fanny Price.

Kyra: I find it remarkable I came to dislike a character for whom I had so MUCH sympathy for at first. What a horrible childhood! If only she had not turned out to be such a self-righteous prig.

Lona: C.S. Lewis makes the point that Anne Elliot is actually more “judgey” than Fanny of people around her, and we don’t beat down on Anne Elliot the way we do on Fanny. I say cut Fanny some slack – she is young, shy, sheltered and repressed – a real and believable person but unfortunately lacking the dynamism we look for in a heroine. In my opinion, her worse trait is when she wallows in ultra-humility – two examples: making Mary stand there and wait while she dithers over choosing a necklace, or making four people stand around while she wonders whether she should accept the Grant’s dinner invitation.

Kyra: I think she is passive aggressive; she uses her timidity and inaction to control others.

Lona: I think that’s overstating it!

Kyra: Having been on the receiving end of passive tyranny, myself and my therapists would argue differently. Non-communication, evading resolution, false agreement, and obstruction are all well-known forms of passive aggression. Fanny bullied everyone with her timidity.

Lona: I hear you, but Fanny is still in a subordinate position in her household. I think the problem with Fanny as a heroine is that she is never tempted to do other than what she does. A person who is never tempted to get drunk is not more virtuous than the alcoholic who must resist the urge to drink. A person who is never tempted to gluttony is not more virtuous than the plump person turning away from the buffet table. Fanny has no inner struggle to overcome. She must withstand the outside pressures upon her, especially the pressure to marry Henry Crawford, to stay true to her own beliefs. So, in A Contrary Wind, I have her do something she later regrets.

Kyra: It was nice to see Fanny make a mistake, I admit. Maybe she’d be more forgiving of other’s sins if she had a few of her own.

Lona: I must defend poor Fanny from your rather harsh interpretation of her. You accuse Fanny Price of being a hypocrite when she passively accepts Mary Crawford’s overtures of friendship, but I am thinking that your “hypocrisy” is my “diplomacy.” When Fanny compliments Mary’s acting, you write, “Neither Edmund nor Mary was mistrustful of Fanny’s kindness, since neither knew what a worm-eaten heart was buried in the affectionate sentimentality. Both were credulous regarding Fanny Price’s avowed regard for Mary Crawford.” I think you’re being unfair to Fanny.

Kyra: I have Asperger’s syndrome, so I am excessively fond of honesty. Diplomacy often leads me into trouble, because I assume when someone says, “That will be fine,” they actually mean it will be fine. Mary Crawford’s snarky honesty is, to me, infinitely preferable to Fanny’s mealy-mouth diplomacy. However, I agree my condemnation of Fanny would be unfair if all Fanny did was compliment Mary’s acting or otherwise be polite. However, Fanny visited Mary and made other overtures of friendship. That is beyond polite. That is misleading.

Lona: Fanny, just like Jane Bennet, can safely say that every advance in intimacy was on Mary’s side.

Kyra: I cannot agree. Fanny sought out Mary’s advice on her dress before the ball in December, because she needed help and her own family members couldn’t be bothered to give her. I would also argue that all of Fanny’s visits to the Parsonage were duplicitous signs of friendship. Fanny could have found the metaphorical guts to not visit Mary. She could have found a POLITE way to do it.

Lona: You forget that Fanny did try to keep her distance. She kept addressing Mary as “Miss Crawford,” a sign that Fanny does not return Mary’s professed warmth of feeling.

Kyra: That’s not really a good indicator of emotional distance. For Fanny to call Mary by her first name would imply an equality between them as well as friendship, and would have been a social faux paus. Mary calls her own sister “Mrs. Grant,” just as Fanny calls her cousin Mrs. Rushworth rather than “Maria” because it was an acknowledgement of the sociocultural hierarchy for married v/s single women. Fanny would rather Mary be fooled by her false regard than have to put herself to the trouble of being brave about maintaining a coolness.

Lona: I think you ask too much of Fanny. Given the difference in their ages, social situations and most importantly, the force of their personalities, how was Fanny going to look Mary Crawford in the eye and say, “no thanks, let’s not be friends”? What ought she have done?

Kyra: Ha! Fanny had plenty of fortitude when she needed it! (That’s part of what made your variation plausible.) She may have wept and dithered and blushed, but she refused Henry Crawford’s proposal and she continued to refuse him EVEN AFTER her Uncle Bertram ripped her apart for it. She could have refused Mary Crawford’s invitations on some pretexts or another. Even more crucially, she could have refused to write to Mary because of “their unique circumstances” regarding Henry’s rejected proposal or something.

Lona: But it would be typical of Fanny’s obliging, yielding nature just to agree to it. We’re talking about writing some letters here, not marrying somebody. Also Edmund kept encouraging their friendship, Mrs. Grant encouraged their friendship, so Mary wouldn’t be bored. She was being pressured by people she respected.

Kyra: She was pressured by people she respected to wed Henry Crawford, too, but she found the wherewithal to refuse that. Agreeing to write Mary was above and beyond polite return visits, too. Letter writing was a serious business, and the Regency equivalent of pledging friendship (not mere acquaintanceship) between two young, unmarried women. If they had been older, married ladies then letters would have been less of a big deal. Fanny knew she was implying a friendship that simply wasn’t there. She knew she was lying to Mary by implication. Moreover, Mary was hardly the only one initiating contact between the two of them.

Alright readers, what’s your opinion of all this? Was Fanny being two-faced or just polite in regards to her relationship with Mary Crawford?

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Lona Manning

Lona Manning is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.

Lona was born in Seoul, South Korea shortly after the Korean War. Her father taught library science and her mother cared for war orphans. She and her husband Ross have two grown sons. They divide their time between their home in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, and China.

Lona is the author of “The Hurricane Hoax,” “The Murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair” and other true crime stories. “A Contrary Wind” is her first novel.

About A Contrary Wind

Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, coupled with the pain of knowing that the man she secretly loves is infatuated with the vivacious but cold-hearted Mary Crawford, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor heal her broken heart? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear? This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. There are some mature scenes.

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but Mansfield Parsonage is her first foray into fictional writing. You can visit her website at kyrackramer.com to learn more about her life and work.

About Mansfield Parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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My guest today is Kyra C. Kramer, who is visiting Diary of an Eccentric with an exclusive video guest post to celebrate the release of her new novel, Mansfield Parsonage, a variation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In the video, Kyra talks about Mansfield Parsonage and why Mary Crawford is arguably the most interesting and likeable character in Austen’s novel. Please give a warm welcome to Kyra C. Kramer:

Thanks, Kyra! What an interesting take on Mansfield Park! I’m definitely looking forward to reading Mansfield Parsonage.

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About Mansfield Parsonage

mansfield_parsonage

Fans of Jane Austen will recognise the players and the setting – Mansfield Park has been telling the story of Fanny Price and her happily ever after for more than 200 years. But behind the scenes of Mansfield Park, there’s another story to be told.

Mary Crawford’s story.

When her widowed uncle made her home untenable, Mary made the best of things by going to live with her elder sister, Mrs Grant, in a parson’s house the country. Mansfield Parsonage was more than Mary had expected and better than she could have hoped. Gregarious and personable, Mary also embraced the inhabitants of the nearby Mansfield Park, watching the ladies set their caps for her dashing brother, Henry Crawford, and developing an attachment to Edmund Bertram and a profound affection for his cousin, Fanny Price.

Mansfield Parsonage retells the story of Mansfield Park from the perspective of Mary Crawford’s hopes and aspirations and shows how Fanny Price’s happily-ever-after came at Mary’s expense.

Or did it?

“This book captures Austen’s voice with a fascinating point of view.” – Maria Grace, Author of “Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World”

“Kyra Kramer delights with her cheeky take on one of Austen’s most misunderstood characters. Through sharp observation and a talent for turn of phrase, Kramer polishes Mary Crawford into the bright jewel she truly is. By the end, you’ll be wondering why the original wasn’t written from her perspective all along. This is Regency Era at its finest. Mansfield Parsonage, a true source of felicity!” – Adrienne Dillard, Author of “Cor Rotto”

Check out Mansfield Parsonage on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer

Kyra C. Kramer is a medical anthropologist, historian, and devoted bibliophile who lives just outside Cardiff, Wales with her handsome husband and three wonderful young daughters. She has a deep – nearly obsessive – love for Regency Period romances in general and Jane Austen’s work in particular. Ms. Kramer has authored several history books and academic essays, but this is her first foray into fictional writing.

Connect with Kyra C. Kramer via website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

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Giveaway

MadeGlobal Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Mansfield Parsonage to my readers. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and answer the question Kyra poses in her video post: are you pro-Mary or pro-Fanny/Edmund? This giveaway will close on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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