I am of course aware that this post is dwelling on goals that have already been completed, but when I finished Mansfield Park yesterday I finished all the Jane Austen novels, and I wanted to write a post ranking them, IMHO.
1. Northanger Abbey. It was a hard choice between this and Pride and Prejudice, but I chose Northanger Abbey because it was funny and it was relatable. Austen had an awesome sense of sarcasm in this book, and just pokes fun at everything popular in women's literature of the day. Catherine's struggles are actually pretty relatable... finding out who your friends really are, the pain of discovering fake friends, dealing with people who are going behind your back, learning to control your imagination. Welcome to high school. Mr. Henry Tinley was awesome, and his behavior at the end of the book really showed how great his character was. I also laughed at the fact that John Thorpe's exaggerations were the cause of everyone's problems. All in all, I loved this book. Plus, the main character was named Catherine.
2. Pride and Prejudice. Loved this book. Elizabeth Bennet was so spunky. She stood up for herself, and didn't allow people to treat her poorly. I think I developed a girl crush on her when she went off on Lady Catherine. And Mr. Darcy. "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Melt. The characters were fantastic, and I loved how multi-dimensional they were. They grew, they had faults, they had strengths. The only issue is that the antagonist is named Catherine. I see my name was a favorite for Jane Austen.
3. Emma. I tried to read this book when I was like, 11, and failed. Much easier this time around. It really was a cute book. I found Emma to be an adorable, if not misguided, character. She really had everyone's best interests at heart, but was not very good about executing said interests. She was sweet and friendly, took a lot of initiative, and was really independent. I found it really difficult to dislike her. The only real issue I ended up having with this book was that the age difference between Emma and Mr. Knightley kind of put me off. She was 21, he was 37... kind of creepy. And Mr. Woodhouse got on my nerves.
4. Sense and Sensibility. This book was supposed to look at the differences between extreme sense and extreme emotion, and how too much of either wasn't a good thing, and it did just that. Unfortunately, the extremes did start to wear on my nerves. Marianne crying and wailing and refusing to eat (and her mother condoning all this!) vs. Elinor refusing to acknowledge any feelings of any form. Admittedly though, I started to like them more in the last third to quarter of the book as they started to realize that both of their extremes were a bad thing, and there was merit in the other sister's methods.
5. Persuasion. As I mentioned the first time, I had trouble engaging this book. The catch moment, the one where you just get caught up in the book and start to feel like you're in their world, didn't really happen for this one. Anne Elliot wasn't a bad character, I just couldn't really relate to her at all. Her family drove me nuts, and unlike Elizabeth Bennet, she didn't stand up to them. Actually, the whole book is about how she didn't stand up to them once and lived to regret it (they didn't like the man she was in love with, and so she left him). It was a book about second chances, and it wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me.
6. Mansfield Park. Wasn't wild about this one, and it was mostly because of Fanny Price. Fanny was weak in every sense of the word. She wouldn't stand up for herself, she couldn't walk for any amount of time, she was just so cowed by everyone around her that she cowered in people's presence and then seemed to pout when they ignored her. She never expressed her emotions, to a point where literally no one understood that when she rejected Henry Crawford's marriage proposal she actually meant it. She's really judgemental, and she only ends up with her man because everyone else has done something shameful at the end of the book. Fanny was just annoying.
Anyway, there you go! My quick ranking of Austen novels. Now, looking forward! :)