The answer is YYYAAASSS!!!! I am, admittedly, a huge Austenite, but Kate Watson made me fall in love with Bertram and Crawford even more than Jane Austen herself did. Which if you haven’t read Mansfield Park yet, that is SERIOUSLY saying something. This book was a true pleasure from beginning to end, and I absolutely loved it.
Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
What better wine to pair with a Mansfield Park retelling than this Mansfield Cabernet Sauvignon? Not only is the label ALMOST as lovely as this story, but the wine is complex and classy, just like Miss Price!
*All wine recommendations are for strictly for those of legal drinking age only.*
It’s All In The Details
- Title: Seeking Mansfield
- Author: Kate Watson
- Publisher: Flux Books
- Pub Date: May 16, 2017
- Pages: 300
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.
*Warning! This review may contain spoilers if you have not yet read Mansfield Park*
I read a lot, A LOT of Austen retellings. I’ll admit that I’ve got a bit of an Austen addiction. There are a lot of great adaptations of Austen’s work out there, but this one is truly something special. It not only stays true to the original text, it IMPROVES upon it. Yes. I said it. JASNA is probably considering revoking my membership this very second, but I dare them to read this book and tell me that I’m wrong.
So let’s talk about what Watson does better than Austen. There are two chief criticisms that Mansfield Park typically receives. First, that Fanny Price is a weak leading lady. And second, that Edmund Bertram is overly protective of her, telling her what to do and treating her like a damsel in distress.
Instead of repeating those same “mistakes” in Seeking Mansfield, Watson has created brilliant character arcs for both Finley and Oliver that break them out of those molds and make them appealing to a 21st century audience.
As I previously mentioned Watson also made me fall in love with both Crawford and Bertram in a way that Austen just couldn’t in Mansfield Park. Watson does a much better job of showing that people are not just good or bad, that we’re all complex, and she develops her characters accordingly. Because of that, I was legitimately rooting for Crawford for a big section of this book, which I never would have guessed going in.
If you’re familiar with Mansfield Park, you’ll be able to guess the major plot points here, but it’s the way that Watson takes us from point A to point B that is just so completely enthralling. She also has some wonderful nods to the original Mansfield story that will be so much fun for fans of Austen’s work to discover.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Flux Books for granting me this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I really like this cover. The color scheme is lovely and I love that they included the theater in the background, since it’s such a critical part of Finley’s development and history.
So much swoon in this story. I am still absolutely blown away by Watson’s ability to make me fall in love with both of the leading men in this story. She makes them so much more complex and relatable and even gives us a glimpse into Bertram’s POV, which just made me love them both all the more. Watson truly nailed the romance element in this retelling.
Kate Watson is a young adult writer, wife, mother of two, and the tenth of thirteen children. Originally from Canada, she attended college in the States and holds a BA in Philosophy from Brigham Young University. A lover of travel, speaking in accents, and experiencing new cultures, she has studied in Israel and lived in Brazil, the American South, and now calls Arizona home.
Her first novel, SEEKING MANSFIELD, debuts in Spring 2017, with the companion novel to follow in 2018. She is also a contributor to Eric Smith’s Welcome Home adoption anthology coming in 2017.
Have any of you read Seeking Mansfield yet? Did you love it as much as I did? How did you feel that it compares to Manfield Park?