BLURB: “When Frankie Price goes to live with her wealthy cousins, she finds herself part of a social scene that she’d only read about in magazines. Shy and overwhelmed, she retreats into her own passion; writing. But when the entire family is rocked by scandal, and her mate Ned comes under the spell of the beautiful but manipulative Alice, Frankie realises that she has to fight for the life she wants.”
REVIEW: Rosie Rushton has written a series of young adult novels based on each of Austen’s six full novels. I had read all of them when I was younger, and they encouraged me to move on to read Austen’s works themselves; all of which I now adore. I had not, however, read Whatever Love Is, Rushton’s adaptation of Mansfield Park, and picked it up when I happened to see it in a bookshop recently. I love the way Rushton makes the stories of Austen so accessible to teenage readers, and translates the characters almost seamlessly into modern times. I feel that the more rebellious characters of Mansfield Park – i.e. Henry, Mary and Tom – were always rather forward for Austen’s time, but Rushton manages to make even the sedate Fanny Price into a relatable and enjoyable modern character. Fanny is transformed into Frankie, a shy, awkward teenage girl who comes to live with the Bertrams after her mother’s mental breakdown and her father’s decision to travel. Her feelings for Ned (Edmund) are made clear from the beginning of the novel, and she pours both these feelings and the discomfort she feels around the rest of the family into her writing. When Ned falls for the scheming Alice (Mary), and her brother decides to pursue Frankie, things become complicated. Frankie can see right through the Crawford siblings, but the other characters in the novel remain frustratingly unaware of their true characters, and the reader grows more attached to Frankie as she struggles to expose them whilst not causing any scandal or upset. This is a very enjoyable adaptation of Mansfield Park, and the ending left me with a smile on my face just as Austen’s novel did. I really enjoyed the way in which Rushton adapted the story to fit more with concepts of modern relationships and current ideas surrounding both romance and family, and would encourage any fans of Austen (even if, like myself, you are no longer a teenager!), to read this adaptation.