I am ashamed to say, that until recently, I didn't even know Austen wrote this novel-- and other than the fact that it was likely a romance, I had no idea what it was about.
I think this is one of the 'hidden treasures' that this list has given me. Without this challenge I probably would never have picked up this novel, only to find that it is now one of my favorite Austen novels. Maybe I am reading to far into it or simplifying it too much (if both can be done at once), but this novel is a wonderful twisted fairy tale. If you really break this novel down, you have your princess Anne, who is surrounded by two ugly step sisters (her sisters: Mary and Elizabeth) her nasty step parent (father: Sir Walter) her dead mother who can no longer guide her through her life, you have the lost love (Captain Frederick Wentworth)--the love met at the ball when the glass slipper was lost only in hopes to catch the golden carriage that was too-soon changing back into a pumpkin. There is the fairy god mother (Mrs. Russell) who persuades our princess away from her true love. We have a temptress (or an opportunity for a lesbian lover (Mrs.Clay) because who really knows why her and Elizabeth are such good friends). We have a beast disguised as a potential lover in the guise of (Mr. Elliot) and a crippled friend (Mrs. Smith) who holds the knowledge and reveals the truth behind the beast. Yes, perhaps this is a complicated-simple break down, but I find this remarkably entertaining twisted fairy-tale that is an excellent story and should be more popular.
Up Next: The Lord of the Rings