Since Star Wars Episode 8 came out about a month ago, I’ve seen TONS of lists ranking the Star Wars movies from worst to best, favorite to least favorite, whatever. Oh my gosh, it’s so much fun, and I just had to do it too! Which led to a LONG list ranking my favorite Marvel movies (lots of unpopular opinions there!), and then led to me talking about all the bookish rankings I could do.
Oh my gosh. Ranking books and movies is my new addiction.
So, for absolutely no reason at all other than this is what I WANTED to do on a Sunday morning while I’m stuck in bed having braxton-hicks contractions, my list of Jane Austen novels from most favorite to least favorite. Enjoy!
1. Pride and Prejudice
I know it’s totally cliche and I don’t care, because Pride and Prejudice is tied for my favorite book of all time. I love it so much that it’s hard to not fangirl and actually ARTICULATE what it is I love about it. Just, EVERYTHING. But I think my favorite thing is the absurdity of all of the characters. From Mr. Collins to Lady Catherine to Mrs. Bennett, there is so much silliness and it is so well-done. And, of course, the completely heart-fluttering romance. *sigh* I read this book almost every year. I can’t get enough.
2. Sense and Sensibility
Choosing #2 was actually pretty tough. Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey are both favorites of mine, but for completely different reasons. In the end Sense and Sensibility won out for essentially the same reason Pride and Prejudice does: the silly tone. Also, the silly characters.
But I think Sense and Sensibility has something to offer that is completely unique. We are always told “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” But Sense and Sensibility is really about how you CAN’T always choose who your friends are going to be. Sometimes you end up being stuck with friends that are obnoxious. But if they care about you and treat you well, you might find that they become someone you care for anyway. And I think that was important for me to learn.
Also, Edmund! So adorable! I love the middle-school-ish-ness of Eleanor and Edmund’s romance.
3. Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey is easily Jane Austen’s least appreciated novel. I wrote a mini-Instagram review once that said “…Northanger Abbey has the most culturally relevant themes to the 21st century American,” and a friend of mine who is a high school English teacher responded “Seriously? snickers.” I then went on a long rant defending my position, but it was clear that she hadn’t ever really given it much thought. Because, you know, it’s Northanger Abbey.
But even though the tone isn’t as light and funny as some of her other novels, I find this to be one of the funniest. We see Catherine go through some of the same things that we all experienced as teen or pre-teen girls. A girl who pretends to be her friend in order to pursue a romance with her brother, then stabs them both in the back. Feeling like she is missing something when it comes to romance. A parent of someone we like not approving of the relationship. My favorite is how she gets a little too invested in her gothic novels and can no longer tell the difference between fiction and reality. That rang a REALLY huge bell, especially since I read this book for the first time in the height of the Twilight craze.
I feel like I have to defend Emma being so low on this list since it’s often called “the perfect novel.” I LOVE Emma. Seriously, five-star book. I just personally love the other three more.
The Lizzy Bennett Diaries team made an Emma re-telling called Emma Approved, and it didn’t do nearly as well, despite having the dreamiest Mr. Knightly OF ALL TIME. Why? People didn’t like Emma. Which is also typically the main criticism of this book, aside from the length. But here’s the thing: YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO LIKE EMMA. At least, not at first. But she grows, and that is the amazing thing to see in this novel.
Okay, unpopular opinion time. I don’t actually like Persuasion. *cringes* *awaits hate mail*
Seriously, I’ve read this book twice now, and I’m not really sure what the big deal is. I’ve read a lot of people talk about how this is the best Jane Austen novel, but nobody really ever seems to say why, and I don’t get it. I feel like it lacks the wit of Austen’s early novels. It has a much more serious tone on purpose I think. But I find the story sad, and I find Anne’s depression going unnoticed by ANYONE even sadder. Plus, Captain Wentworth is a total jerk to her. I can never buy their reconciliation at the end.
6. Mansfield Park
As I mentioned last week in the #notall Books Tag, this is the only Austen novel I actively dislike. This doesn’t seem to be a particularly unpopular opinion. It’s long, nothing really seems to happen, and the characters are unlikeable. Which, like in Emma, I THINK is supposed to be on purpose, but they aren’t developed quite as skillfully, so I don’t end up liking them by the end of the book. Also, it’s not just ONE unkileable character, it’s most of them. So, yeah.