Murdering Mansfield Park?

Fanny-and-mary-mansfield-park I have never been remotely interested in reading one of the "hilarious" (not, probably) mash-ups of well-known novel with horror (or other) genre. The irreverent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the first one I noticed, but I've regularly shuddered at the sight of imitators such as Queen Victoria – Demon Hunter, and flinch at the prospect of Android Karenina, Henry VIII- Wolf Man, or the Beatles-inspired Paul is Undead. Therefore it was amusing to read Alison Flood's piece in last week's (2 April) Bookseller in which she says the joke has worn thin, having been initially enthusiastic: 

"Enough, though. A clever independent publisher did something quirky and unique, which worked because it felt irreverent and original. Flooding the market with quick-turnaround copycats is none of those things. This particular seam has been mined: it's time for something new."

Quite. And I thought the same when an amusing post at Euro Crime blog flagged up three covers for three editions US, UK and Australian) of Murder in Mansfield Park in a post last week. The covers are interestingly different (worth a look), none of them the one I have reproduced here, but the book itself? As noted at Euro Crime blog, I said I'd never be tempted to read it. But…..Michelle Peckham's review, out yesterday at Euro Crime, has almost persuaded me. The review is particularly insightful as Michelle is clearly a (possibly quite unusual) person who is an enthusiast for Jane Austen and crime fiction. Hence, the review both appreciates the plays on the original novel, and enjoys the crime aspects. In fact, it seems as if the author, Lynn Shepherd, may have missed an opportunity, as Michelle writes that it is the prospect of married professional investigators of the time which is the strength of the book, rather than the Austen parody. I have to admit, on the basis of her review, I am a little bit tempted…. See what you think.

5 thoughts on “Murdering Mansfield Park?

  1. Maxine – In general, I agree with you that that “send-up” concept can be quite overdone. On the other hand, if a book is well-done, it’s worth a try… I may go take a look at Michelle’s review, especially if it involves more than just the parody…

  2. The review is lovely but I’m still not tempted. I have listened to about half each of P&P&Zombies and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter during work road trips over the past few months (neither was my pick but one has to be democratic when one is on a work trip with several others). In both cases the idea was funnier than the reality, for me anyway, and I was never interested enough to finish reading either book.

  3. Wow, you are a nobler woman than I am, Bernadette! If I had thought of it, I’d have noted in the post that I doubt anyone could murder Mansfield Park as much as the TV movie with Billie Piper as a “wild child” Fanny.

  4. Michelle certainly got one of the biggest points right about my book – Murder at Mansfield Park is not a mash-up! I don’t like mash-ups myself, and I certainly haven’t written one! It’s a completely rewritten murder story, though using the same basic set-up as the original. And I agree that there could have been a sequel if I’d married off my investigators at the end (and I was tempted!), but I put a huge amount into the accuracy of the Austen language and details, and, after much soul-searching, it just felt right to have an ending truer to her genre. And Austen fans will also notice that I start with the same sentence as Mansfield Park, and end with the same one, so though my book goes out on a big trajectory of its own, it ‘comes home’ in the end.

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