Of course being a die-hard Austenite means that my favorite all time novel is the Pride and Prejudice. But, if Miss Austen had never written her trademark work I believe my favorite book would be Mansfield Park.
This is not one of her big three novels are well-known throughout the world. Perhaps it being a lesser
known work makes me love it all the more, as if it were a secret treasure that's I've had the good fortune to expose.
Mansfield Park follows Miss Fanny Price as she's removed from her less fortunate family to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle. She's exposed to all the blessings that their lifestyle affords, but never treated as an equal, and her wants and desires are always secondary to those of her cousins, two young men and two young ladies. Her meek, kind, and impeccable character is never fully appreciated.
The plot thickens when a new vicar comes to Mansfield and his wife brings along a charming half-brother and an attractive half-sister, both of whom have questionable morals.
When her uncle returns from a long and dangerous business trip he's brought back a new appreciation for young Fanny and her excellent character and judgment. And a new awareness of his own failings as a father.
Through it all Fanny is a constant of morality & propriety, a truly respectable young lady, when others fail to meet their parent's reasonable expectations.
I love how much Jane Austen values meekness, character, wisdom and modesty, it's a reminder of what's been lost in our culture!
A side note, my favorite character in this book is Mr. Crawford. I won't include any spoilers, but I always think he's going to end different that he does, and though, he is a bit of a cad, I always cheer for him. To me, that's just good writing!