Whatever Love Is? by Rosie Rushton
Genre: Classic Retelling
Published by: Piccadilly
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
As part of my Mansfield Must-Haves, I picked up the 21st Century retelling from my local library. Reading retellings is a great way to dive into the world of classics, and gaining a basic understanding, as much as a literary web series is!
What I really liked about ‘Whatever Love Is?’ was the setting is was placed in. To have the Bertrams working in the fashion business, with overseas scandal was an excellent and realistic choice.
I didn’t really understand why some of the names were changed, like Alice Crawford for Mary, and some weren’t, like Henry Crawford. It kind of seemed like a half retelling in that sense.
Mansfield Park is a brilliant story when it comes to dealing with a lot of characters. Although you could say Frankie Price and Ned are the protagonists, it’s really about a lot more than the pair. Seeing a large family dynamic and relationship jealousies all in one story is so enthralling. It’s like everyone plays an equal part in creating the story, not just Frankie.
However, I think Frankie’s character had a tendency to come off as quite two dimensional. She loved writing and she was falling in love with Ned, which took up most of her life. Rushton has added a level of intrigue in Frankie’s backstory, but it was little delved into. As a quiet character in the original Austen, I don’t think this portrayal can be helped, as Fanny doesn’t have the same vivacity as Elizabeth Bennett, for example.
Still, when anything is translated into a modern context, I’m instantly on board. I love the idea of people discovering the original text through things like this, and gaining a greater appreciation for classic literature. Because, when the story is translated, you realise how symptomatic of the YA genre the original text is! A playboy going after every girl in his sights. An unrequited love triangle. It’s all there, across centuries.
Overall, I’d give ‘Whatever Love Is?’ 3 stars. I did enjoy the story, but the ending seemed quite abrupt. I wanted to know more of what happened the Frankie and Ned, and James, the eldest Bertram. It would be an excellent way into the original text, though, as the plot is super easy to understand when stripped of the archaic language!