And now it’s your turn, Gentle Reader


Consider this a semi-open thread. Tell us which is your favorite JA novel or work, and why.

These discussions can be a lot of fun. Please remember, however, that we are talking about books and not so much about adaptations. Thanks!

32 thoughts on “And now it’s your turn, Gentle Reader

  1. Trai

    First off, TKAM is my favorite novel as well! I love that book 🙂

    My two favorite Austens are Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park. (I know, I know, MP is not generally a favorite.) For both, it’s because I’m very much like Elinor and Fanny– I’m the quiet type, and I’m kind of shy about expressing how I feel. When it comes to S&S, I admire Marianne for being a version of the person who I’d like to be, albeit an extreme one. I like that Colonel Brandon waits for Marianne to realize that he can be good to her, and I like that Edmund is the one who truly sticks up for Fanny when she needs someone to do just that. (Never mind that business with Mary Crawford. :D)

    Thus, S&S is my favorite and MP is my second favorite. I’m a devotee of Marianne/Brandon and Fanny/Edmund. I guess I champion the underdog couples!


  2. Katharine T

    I swing back and forth between Emma and Mansfield Park. I love Emma because I think it’s a perfect novel. It’s just… perfect. It’s funny, it’s plotted so tightly there isn’t a thread out of place, the characterization of Emma herself is brilliant. I love Mansfield Park because it’s imperfect, in a way. It’s deeply complex and leaves you with lots of questions. Like Trai, I also identify with Fanny in some ways – I’m not as much like her anymore, but when I was seventeen, I was. MP is maybe the most real novel, to me. It’s a novel without an easy solution, like real life. Don’t misunderstand, I like the ending. I don’t really think Fanny should end up with Henry Crawford, and I like Edmund a lot more than most people do. But MP does leave me with a sense of regret for the tragedy of the Crawfords.


  3. I know it’s probably considered cheesy at this point, but Pride & Prejudice is still my favorite. Though Persuasion is really near to my heart as well and has more of a personal connection for me.


  4. bookfan

    It would have to be Persuasion. I relate to Anne, with her reserve and sensitivity. And the exquisite pain and sublime reunion with Capt. Wentworth do me in.


  5. Rhonna

    Persuasion is my favorite. I love Anne’s quiet dignity. Her regret and sadness is palpable, but never displayed. And, of course, there’s the letter. I think one would endure a great deal of suffering to receive such a letter.


  6. Chuck

    Pride & Prejudice it is for me also. I love the relationship between Elizabeth and her father, as it reminds me of my dad and myself, and her mother is kind of like my mother. Beyond that it is the JA novel that I find most humour in.

    Persuasion comes in as a very close second for me. 🙂


  7. P&P is my favorite novel ever. I read S&S first, and fell in love. I read P&P and became the crazed Jane Austen fan I am today. I Love Elizabeth. I love Mr. Darcy. I learn something new every time I read it and spending any time with the novel or a film adaption really feels like I’m calling up a best friend.

    Emma, S&S and Persuasion all vie for second place. I think I’m most like Emma. Her relationship with Mr. Knightley I think is most like my husband and I, how Mr. Knightley keeps Emma grounded. And I once cared for a Frank Churchill very much.

    S&S and Persuasion I think have the best endings, because Anne and Elinor need their happy ending more than Elizabeth or Emma.

    It’s been about ten years since I read NA so I desperately need to read it again because I cannot speak intelligibly of it. And after 2 or 3 attempts, I still can’t enjoy MP at all.


  8. At first I couldn’t make up my mind as to which JA novel was my favorite…. every time a read one I decided it was my favorite, then I read the next and thought.. no this one’s my favorite… But I think Persuasion has to be the one i felt the most for. All while reading it I felt the pain and love Anne felt throughout the novel… and the letter is something that would make almost anyone fall in love with the novel. Mansfield Park is my second favorite, I admire Fanny so much for how patient she is with everything she endures. I love every single one of Jane Austen’s novels but Persuasion and Mansfield Park are my two favorites 🙂


  9. My two favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I love the humor of Pride and Prejudice and the dialog between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I love the story of Persuasion, with the second chance that Anne and Wentworth have and the way that Anne is a more mature heroine. I think I have come to appreciate Persuasion more as I have grown older. It may not have the same passion as Pride and Prejudice but I like it almost better than P&P.


  10. Maria L

    Persuasion is my hands-down favorite. I love Anne Elliot, her grace, her quiet dignity, her attention to duty, and her loyalty. I can never read her conversation with Harville without being moved; by the time she says “All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!”–I’m mush. And then Austen follows that with one of the most searingly romantic letters in the history of literature. It gets to me every time.

    I also love that with Persuasion Austen makes bold statements about the limits of class and breeding, the worth of self-made men, the value of relying on one’s own judgement, and the fact that women’s stories are all too often told by male voices.

    And Sir Walter Elliot has got to be one of the most deliciously drawn Austen “bad guy.” He simply does not have one redeemable quality. I love to hate him.


  11. di12381

    Everyone says Pride and Prejudice, which I adore, but I think my favorites are Persuasion and Sensesibility. I get Anne’s regrets and her want to please her family, despite the fact that what she wants goes against what her family would want for her.

    I envy Marianne’s ability to be free with herself, no rules, no fear of breaking them. But I get Elinor’s devotion to her family and her heartbreak watching the one man she loves marry another.


  12. How can one choose?

    Emma is the cleverest; it’s Austen at the top of her game. I agree with Katharine T. that is perfectly plotted, with not a thread out of place, and with that extremely clever interplay between narrator and Emma. It is so subtle that it is hard to at first to appreciate just how brilliant it is, how much the author has accomplished with such seemingly simple materials.

    Pride and Prejudice is the funniest, and thus might be considered the purest expression of Austen. The wit and the irony grab the reader by the throat at the first sentence and never let up. It has Elizabeth Bennet, certainly the Austen heroine whom it would be most amusing to have as a friend. It’s the most accessible of all the novels, the easiest to like, but no less remarkable for that.

    Persuasion has the most heart. How can you not love Anne Elliot, bravely despairing, full of integrity, ready to be give up on life and be a spinster at 27? Austen packs so much emotion into this short novel, so much suspense, that however many times you read it the pleasure can never be any less. I enjoy the landscapes, the social observations about sea captions, Bath, Lyme Regis, Uppercross, the Crofts’ marriage… More than many of the other books, you are acutely aware of the world outside the frame of the novel.

    This is also true of Mansfield Park, sometimes considered the least likable, but to me also full of heart. More than any other of Austen’s works it involves a heroine who crosses a social divide, from the chaotic, slovenly world of her Portsmouth home to the order and splendor of Mansfield Park, and briefly back. The more often I read this one, the better I like Fanny and appreciate her stubborn silences, her innate sense of what is right and her acute awareness of the world around her.

    I love Sense and Sensibility because it has, along with NA, such a whiff of the crazy, rambunctious 18th century, of Fielding and Burney and Goldsmith. Once I made a list of all the things S&S has that none of the other novels do: a swoon (ok, a near-swoon), a duel, a nervous breakdown, a forced marriage, a talkative servant as plot device, a truly evil would-be mother-in-law, a girl being carried home in the strong arms of the unknown but handsome stranger, the same girl nearly dying of heartbreak… It is the most melodramatic work, the one where the seams show the most, but I love it. It is perhaps Austen at her most human. And I love Elinor! I love her humor and her rectitude.

    And then there is Northanger Abbey. I think this is the second funniest, after P&P, but the jokes haven’t aged as well because the things Austen makes fun of here — like the Gothic novel, the Regency rattle as embodied in John Thorpe, the social whirl of Bath — have become more obscure with time. Catherine is also probably the least interesting heroine — she seems like a nice enough girl, but not terrifically bright (Her very ordinariness, in fact, is part of what makes NA so funny.) — although NA has probably the funniest and most appealing male lead in Henry Tilney. NA is also one of the wittiest books ever written about reading and is sometimes astonishingly metafictional.

    Has anyone read much of the Juvenilia? “History of England” is the one I know best, since I found an edition of it in the Morgan Library store. It is wild stuff. Jane Austen before she grew up and calmed down.

    I love them all. I can’t choose.


    • bookfan

      I bought a deleted copy of the history from my local library. It is very amusing. “Note: There will be very few Dates in his History”


  13. Baja Janeite

    “Persuasion” is my favorite of the completed novels. I like the idea that true love would be faithful for so many years. I admire Anne’s character although I am nothing like her!
    I love the uncompleted “Sanditon”. It had such potential!


  14. Mrs. Tilney

    First of all, my favorite is Mansfield Park. Fanny Price is a heroine of epic proportions. She’s loyal, sweet, caring and grounded. She is the personification of the voice in all of our heads that says “I’m not good enough”, yet she has a unique confidence that comes from strong conviction.

    Second of all, Emma is my least favorite of the Austen heroines. She’s shallow, vapid and doesn’t deserve the praise of anyone. Her relationship with Knightley is disgusting in any time period and I can’t wrap my mind around why so many people are enamored of her.


  15. Mandy N

    At risk of being an unoriginal elf; my favourite Austen remains Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth is my fave heroine; humourous and spirited. I esp. enjoy her scenes & dialogue with Lady Cat. A sparkling social comedy. A close second favourite is Northanger Abbey for me. Henry Tilney is my fave hero and I love JA’s details of Georgian Bath. Frocks and social satire are so delightful 🙂


  16. I always assumed my favorite was Persuasion (which I adore) until I recently re-read Sense and Sensibility recently. Now I’m pretty sure it’s a tie. I love the restrained emotion and Jane’s paragraphs on Autumn–a favorite season of hers, it seems, considering all the important things that happen in Autumn in her books. A few of these are Bingley and Darcy’s arrival and return, Frederick Wentworth’s return, and Marianne’s fall and subsequent Willoughby episode. I also love the human supporting characters. The Musgroves are arguably Jane’s most likeable side character family. Everyone in the book seems like someone you know.

    What I love most about S&S can be summed up in one word: Elinor. I find her storyline so much more compelling than Marianne’s because she holds her emotions in. Marianne’s lovesickness is tainted by selfish romanticism, but Elinor is always suffering silently, which attracts my sympathy so much more than Marianne. Edward Ferrars my not be my favorite Austen hero, but he is in one of the toughest, most unloved situations of any of Jane’s characters, so you have to feel for him a little at least.


  17. Lynne

    It’s so hard to choose!

    Pride and Prejudice is what I pick up when I need a friend.

    And even though Sense and Sensibility is about two sisters and not an internal struggle, necessarily; it’s the internal struggle between melodramatic and sensible behavior that I constantly fight.

    But, ultimately, it’s Persuasion that captures me. I think I may be a bit more extroverted than Anne, but steadfast love is my credo. Since I can identify with that so well, it naturally becomes my favorite.


  18. Reeba

    – It’s funny – almost every page.
    – Well plotted.

    – THE CHARACTERS – sketched so beautifully.
    They all seem so special. Mr Woodhouse, Miss Bates not forgetting my favourite bad lady Mrs Elton 😀

    -And Emma herself of course. She’s such a well rounded character.

    NORTHANGER ABBEY is a close second and all others very close third and this ralking often changes with S&S taking second position sometimes or Persuasion.

    I like NA because of the greatcoat wearing hero 😀 and also because it is very funny.


  19. I love Persuasion more than any other book in the world. It is just so beautiful. I am a woman of a certain age, and I STILL want to be Anne Elliot when I grow up. And Captain Wentworth? He’s nothing less than the most romantic hero of them all. His letter is perfection itself.


  20. CurtB

    It has to be Pride and Prejudice. Most of the other novels start with the heroines in a negative situation. Catherine comes across as naive and perhaps a bit dim; and Anne Eliot,Fannie Price, and Elinor and Marianne Dashwood start off negatively in either a financial or emotional way. And Emma (which would be my second choice), shows a well-off character who gets taught a few lessons. Perhaps it’s just too subtle. From the very beginning, you recognize that Elizabeth is not going to let anybody jerk her around. She is generally happy and has a good head on her shoulders. You get positive vibes when you read about her.

    And she is funny. Everybody is, even Darcy (despite his efforts not to be).The other novels are more subtle and gain from repeated reading. P&P is not subtle. It appears to be the novel where JA gave her satirical side free rein. While NA is satirical, it is satirical about things most people don’t care much about anymore. P&P is unabashedly funny, to put it simply. Most of the others have more subtle humor, and you almost HAVE to be a true Janeite to consider MP funny.

    And P&P has the most interesting hero. Henry Tilney is certainly more witty than Darcy, but you can easily tell Darcy is smart and talented, not just rich and good-looking. And Darcy grows, while Henry Tilney (to me, anyway) is the same from the time we meet him till we bid farewell at the end. The entire cast of characters in P&P, with the possible exception of Jane, are rich sources of entertainment.

    P&P is funny, yet shows a depth of character analysis and plot that to me is the equal of any of the other novels.


  21. I’m happy to see so much MP love among these comments. I was bracing myself, even though it’s only the internet. Mansfield Park is certainly my favorite Austen, though Henry Tilney is my favorite hero, and Elinor and Elizabeth tie for my favorite heroine.

    I don’t have rankings for the rest of the novels, and I only know MP is my favorite because it is the one I reread most. I guess there is something about the themes of manners vs. morals and class divides that is particularly compelling to me. Also there is William Price in it. Also also, I’m with you Katherine T; I too like Edmund more than most, and Fanny as well. Fanny especially, as a developed character, I think is one of Austen’s best creations.


  22. Carol

    I agree with Carmen. I loved Pride and Prejudice when I was younger. But now that I’m 50+ I find myself drawn to the autumnal quality of “Persuasion.” There’s a lovely dignity about Anne, who has so much forbearance for all of the idiots in her life, and in her quiet way always seems to be missed when she leaves a room…


  23. Karen

    Persuasion. I find that it holds the most passion, culminating in the most beautiful letter ever written, courtesy of Captain Wentworth. “You pierce my soul”… sigh, I melt every time.

    It’s a story of maintaining one’s dignity and of second chances, of seeing good things happening to good people. Had Anne and Frederick married young, they wouldn’t have had the experiences that matured them as characters and made them appreciative of their blessings in life. I’ve read many a review of the book where the reviewers claim to have been less than impressed with the novel in their teens, but fell in love with it in their mid-to-late twenties. I find this very fitting: Anne, having reached the age where she can start having regrets, is a very relateable character. At 27, many of us are still trying to figure out who we are, while caught between youth and adulthood, wavering between both on a sea of accomplishments and regrets. It is a time when we feel we must grow up, settle down, and accept our lot in life. Anne processes these very feelings herself as she confronts the return of her former love and the possibility that he has moved on. I feel this is Jane’s best work ever.


  24. rae

    Without a second thought, P&P. My second favorite is Persuasion and the others I will read again, or not, and not worry about it.

    I’ve read P&P probably 50 times and each time is like the first. And each time I catch new hints, new meanings, wondrous playing with words. P&P is everything a novel should be – intelligent, funny, satirical, romantic, with surprise twists! – and a hero and heroine who learn, self-examine and grow. Jane Austen at her brightest, wittiest and best!

    I love Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth too, but P&P was my first love and I am nothing if not true to my first love.


  25. Tom

    If I had to choose ONLY one, then P&P would be my choice, if only because I am from the Mary Tyler Moore generation, where people would say to themselves when caught in a sticky situation, “Well, what would Mary do?” I, on the other hand, always think, “How would Lizzy handle this?” And Mrs. E’s vulgarity can’t hold a candle to either Lady Catherine’s or Mrs. Bennett’s. Learn from the professionals, dear.

    Persuasion is the close, close, close runner up. Oh, Carmen above is *so* right–it is grown-up love.

    But I’m going to put in a vote for Love and Freindship, because it is still one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I run mad as often as I chuse, but I *never* swoon.


  26. Kathleen C.

    P&P is my favorite, because it is light, bright & sparkling; and Persuasion is very, very close second because it is grown-up and pensive. It is the heroines and the stories that make them both so enjoyable.

    But I also find there’s a great deal to enjoy in MP, although the story doesn’t grab you like the other two. I find Fanny a sympathetic character, but not perfect, which make her interesting. She struggles with what’s right, what’s wrong, and what doesn’t matter.

    I must admit, however, that I always find it a chore to read Emma. I’m not interested in any of the characters (maybe Mr. Woodhouse) until Mrs. E. appears. I just don’t care what happens to Emma or Harriet until the very end.

    And the character I love to hate: Mary Crawford–she’s downright EVIL in my book.


  27. P&P, of course. Elizabeth is my favorite Austen heroine (my daughter is named after her). NA is my second favorite. Henry Tilney is also my favorite hero (if our next child is a boy, he’ll be Henry, too!) I think Catherine is the heroine who’s most like me, so maybe that’s why I identify with this book more. P&P is the masterpiece though. It still keeps me thinking after all these years.


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