{Book Review} Edmund Bertram’s Diary

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Reading Edmund Bertram’s Diary showed me that it’s been too long since I’ve read Mansfield Park. It’s my favorite Jane Austen novel, but I don’t reread it as often as Pride and Prejudice or Emma. It’s insightful, clever, and fairly dense so it’s not the sort of story I go back to again and again. It doesn’t help that it includes my second least favorite Austen hero, Edmund Bertram.

You might wonder why on earth I put myself through reading a “diary” of one of my least favorite Jane Austen characters. Well, for one, Lianne from eclectictales.com recommended the series. Secondly, I balanced my love of Mansfield Park and my hatred of Edmund and Mansfield Park came out the winner. (It helped that I could picture Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund in my head too.)

The title, Edmund Bertram’s Diary, is fairly self-explanatory as far as plot goes. The novel is Mansfield Park as told through Edmund’s diary entries. The story starts just before Fanny Price (Edmund’s cousin) arrives at Mansfield and ends a bit after the conclusion of Jane Austen’s novel. It includes plenty of Edmund’s obsession with the lovely Mary Crawford (which is bad) and a decent amount of his struggle to keep the estate going while his father is away in Antigua (which is good).

If I thought (foolishly) that Edmund Bertram’s Diary would make me like this hero more as character, I was wrong. Amanda Grange’s novel doesn’t work as an apology for the character. Edmund spends a fair amount of the book being a privileged, oblivious jerk, and I am not so certain he even has an epiphany and changes at the end. Reading about his inner struggles and feelings only made me hate him more.

It probably didn’t help that it’s never sat well with me that Edmund was obsessed with Mary Crawford for 90% of the novel, but then–relatively quickly–falls for Fanny in the end. The diary retreads this ground and doesn’t even try to spark the chemistry between Fanny and Edmund until Mary is solidly out of the picture. That was one of the few faults I found with this book. At least the film adaptations try to give us hints of sexual tension. There was none of that to be found here–making me quite certain that Mansfield Park should have ended with Fanny marrying a nice seafaring man (her brother could totally introduce her). Then, she could have a nice house and keep cats and pugs and not have to deal with her ridiculous aunts and cousins anymore.

The end.

Sadly, this book gives only vague hints of chemistry between the cousins and fails to redeem Edmund. Worst of all, I don’t get my happy, pug-filled conclusion. Instead, I was forced struggle through the last hundred pages as Edmund Bertram repeatedly feels the need to mansplain Fanny’s suitor, Henry Crawford, to her.

The mansplaining got so annoying that I started dogearring the pages where Edmund felt that he knew better than Fanny. There were a lot of dogearred pages.

I mean, he’s just the worst:

“But I have refused him,” {Fanny} said quietly.

“Of course, for the moment. But when you come to know him better you will see that he is just the sort of man to make you happy.”

She said no more but, feeling sure that she would soon change her mind, I let the matter drop. . .

p. 207

“. . .There were never two people more dissimilar. We have not one taste in common. We should be miserable.”

This was bleak indeed. So bleak that I felt fancy was at work, rather than reason.

p. 220

Yeah. I won’t say I hate read this part of the novel because it’s too well written for that, but I felt a certain amount of righteous wrath reading Edmund’s thoughts. This book could have been retitled “Mansplainer: A Diary” and it would have been 100% appropriate.

As for the lightning bolt moment when Edmund FINALLY realizes that he loves Fanny, well. . .I’ll let you read that for yourself too.

As I watched her, I found myself wondering how it had happened, how long she had been like this. Had she suddenly blossomed? Or had I simply not noticed the moment at which she had turned from a hesitant girl into an assured woman.

p. 287

Shades of “Gigi” are all over that quote. I truly did want to give Edmund a chance, but can you really blame me for wanting to throttle him instead? I don’t blame Amanda Grange for this nonsense. It was in the original novel. She just extrapolated on it. Edmund Bertram’s horrible and reading how horrible he was on the inside delighted me in a lot of ways. I finally feel justified for my dream ending, and I really just want to read Fanny/Sailor or even Fanny/Henry Crawford fanfiction now.

Edmund can go fall in a hole.

In spite of all my. . .um. . .strong feelings about Edmund in this novel, I did really and truly love this book. (Surprising right?) It was well-written and gave me all the feels–not all of them positive but still. . .I’d recommend it to anyone who has no qualms about hating a Jane Austen hero and wants more Regency novels in their life.

I will 100% be continuing on with this series. I will probably read Captain Wentworth’s Diary next because it’d probably be best for me to go with a Austen hero that I actually adore as a follow-up. I won’t lie though–I’m beyond disappointed that there’s no “Edward Ferrars’ Diary.” He’s my most loathed Austen character and I would have hate-read the heck out of that book.

I give this book Four out of Five Pugs

Who’s your least favorite Austen hero?

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