A big thank you goes to everyone who participated in last month’s survey. We had a tremendous response and some wonderful comments! Special thanks go to those who found a couple of glaring omissions among the answer options (that’s why the write-in vote was invented!).


Here are highlights from your favorites:
Austen Novel
Pride and Prejudice (44%)
Persuasion (37%)
Emma (7%)
Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and “whichever novel I’m reading now” all tied at 4%.
Only Northanger Abbey received no votes, but several people declared it their second-favorite Austen novel.
Pride and Prejudice 
“It’s a complex story that shows the strength of women’s bonds with family, community and larger society.”
“Perfect balance of complex, intersecting timelines and clever wit.”
“Last, therefore the most polished writing — confident and clear.”
“I have always been drawn to the characters of Anne and Wentworth, especially as I continue to age.”
“Emma provides an excellent view of the societal circumstances of the time.”

“The most revolutionary novel. I get something new out of it every time I read it.”

Mansfield Park
“This novel gives us the strongest look at the workings of evil. Not pleasant, much of the time, but a lot to think about.”
“This is Austen’s call for all of us, no matter where we find ourselves, to look within ourselves to be a light in a dark world.”
“The most complex and thought provoking of all her works, MP requires the contemporary reader to unravel the subtext in order to more fully understand Austen’s message. The MP characters are so well developed that every reading reveals new material that changes how the reader views and relates to each one.”
Austen Heroine
Elizabeth Bennet by a landslide (59%) followed by Anne Elliot (24%)
“Elizabeth is always the smartest person in the room.”
“Despite her initial prejudice toward Darcy, she knew her own mind and was resourceful and independent.”
“Elizabeth is so fresh, active and witty. But she also becomes introspective and self-examining when confronted with new evidence.”
“Elizabeth is a great role model for girls.”
“Lizzie can stand up to Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine and her mother. I don’t think a lot of women of her time would have stood up to people like that. I also think she was the most willing of Austen’s characters to admit when they made a mistake and to change themselves for the better.”
“She is all the things we wish to see in ourselves.”
“I love Anne Elliot. She is smart, capable and found love ‘late’ in life.”
“I can see myself in Anne — the one who puts everyone else first and let someone persuade them to make a decision that they later regretted. Fortunately Anne had a second chance at the decision.”
“Anne remained kind and generous despite her disappointments.”
“Elinor is a woman of integrity and honor, even at the expense of her own happiness.”
“Cheated out of her inheritance by Fanny Dashwood. Has to listen to Lucy Steele’s lies.”
“Unlike her mother and sister, Elinor faces reality and behaves in a mature manner.”
“I relate to the fantasy world that Catherine creates, the duty of Anne and Elinor, and all three in the desire to have a life that is to their hopes and dreams.”

“I identify with Fanny because my own childhood and teens were equally painful, though for somewhat different reasons.”

“Emma has everything and still needs to learn something — and she does!”
Austen Hero
Fitzwilliam Darcy (37%)
Capt. Frederick Wentworth (23%)
Col. Brandon and George Knightley (13% each)
Lowest rated were Edmund Bertram, Edward Ferrars and Charles Bingley.
“This one is hard to answer. I love Darcy as much as the next person, and Knightley has grown on me over the years. But I love Wentworth and how he remains so constant. And, of course, the letter!”
“You pierce my soul!” (FYI, numerous readers cited Capt. Wentworth’s letter.)
“Capt. Wentworth is handsome, dashing and has a sense of humor.”
Col. Brandon has some serious fans, even if he didn’t rate in the top two.
“Darcy is always swoon worthy, Henry Tilney is dreamy and Wentworth’s vulnerability is admirable. But Col. Brandon by far is the most steadfast, tender, and heroic of them all.”
“Col. Brandon is old, like me  — we both need flannel vests during winter.”
“Col. Brandon epitomizes the best in a heroic character. He is long suffering, generous, chivalric, protective and loyal. He is the good guy that everyone admires but no one is romantically interested in and so he is often friend-zoned. He gets the girl in the end.”
“He is constant and unwavering in Marianne’s life and in the Dashwoods’ lives. He doesn’t push, but rather shows his greatness through actions.”
“Col. Brandon by far is the most steadfast, tender and heroic of them all.”
“George Knightley sets Emma straight!”
“He really knows, understands and loves Emma in spite of herself!”
“Mr. Darcy is everywoman’s Ideal Man and quintessential raw, husband material: He allows himself to change as a result of his regard, respect and love of one woman. He evolves. He becomes a true hero.”
“Mr. Darcy’s appeal is timeless. Someone who thinks his privilege shields him from careless mistakes learns better. There’s hope for us all.”
Henry Tilney also received a lot of love:
“He can dance, he can joke, he can make a handkerchief out of your dress. What’s not to love?”
“He is young, playful, intelligent, considerate, kind, amusing — and he knows his muslins!”
“He behaves with kindness and good manners throughout. No mid-story change of mind, just a steady forthright person.”
“Edward Ferrars isn’t always as strong as he should be, but he is determined to do the right thing by Lucy, as he misguidedly sees her, despite facing a lifetime of misery.”
George Wickham (29%)
John Willoughby (19%)
Henry Crawford (14%)
Lady Susan Vernon and Mrs. Norris (10% each)
“How could you not include Lady Catherine de Bourgh?”
Another write-in candidate: Frank Churchill
“I never understood how his actions and moral character were rectified at the end of the novel. And I never understood Jane Fairfax being able to marry him after he had them lie about their relationship, openly flirt with another woman in front of her, and was a bully.”
“Willoughby appears to really care for Marianne but Wickham cares for no one but himself.”
“Wickham is seemingly good and then surprises you with how his actions lead him to his current predicament.”
“Wickham fools not only the Bennets but also the reader. We get pulled in by his charm, his sad story and his good looks. He is another reminder not to always judge a book by its cover.”
“Henry Crawford’s character is so well-developed and charming that the reader doesn’t know whether to hate, sympathize, condemn or excuse his behavior.”
“Mrs. Norris is so odious and so impeccably drawn. She is cruel and clever at getting others to do what she wants. A truly evil person, but magnificently defined.”
“Who doesn’t have a Mrs.Norris in their life? (And who doesn’t need to fight the urge from time to time to BE a Mrs. Norris?)”
“What’s not to like about wicked Lady Susan? She successfully manipulates just about everyone … although, happily, in the end, not her daughter.”
“Lady Susan is an engaging, witty villain. I like Henry Crawford for the same reason. I really dislike John Thorpe because he is a bully.”
“Lady Susan uses her wits, charm, looks, contacts and the weaknesses of other people to craft her future. She perseveres in a man’s world.”
“John Thorpe is so awful and creepy and you can swiftly place him in contemporary time.”
Favorite Foil to the Heroine
Lady Catherine de Bourgh (34%)
Mary Crawford and Caroline Bingley (18% each)
Jane Fairfax and Lucy Steele (8% each)
“Lady Catherine de Bourgh is what you’d imagine to be a foil in our heroine’s way. She’s grand, intimidating and the sort of lady you wouldn’t want to step over. She is the perfect contrast to Elizabeth who could have been intimidated, but stands her ground so well!”
“Lady Catherine de Bourgh provides a strong foil to Elizabeth Bennet. She is the epitome of the arrogant aristocrat that demands the homage of a sycophant like Mr. Collins. The best parts of Pride and Prejudice include those moments when the spirits of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet clash.”
“Lucy Steele is a true villain, a snake in the grass!”
“I want to claw her eyes out.”
“Another wily woman who gets what she wants.”
“Mary Crawford is witty and charming. I like her better than Fanny.”
“One of Austen’s most brilliant characters, Mary Crawford is beautiful and witty. She’s even kind — when she’s able. But when the chips are down, she won’t show up and she knows it.”
“Rears and vices.”
“She is the polar opposite of everything Fanny represents, and is unable to see beyond the physical realm of one’s beauty. She’s flashy and sly at the same time. She’s an intriguing character.”
“Miss Bingley is always trying to point out Elizabeth’s defects of character and to try to make herself look like a higher rank than she is. She knows how to play the game but she just got outwitted by Elizabeth.”
“The perfect Regency uppercrust woman — with snark!”
“Tough decision between Miss Bingley, Lucy Steele, Isabella Thorpe and Mrs. Elton. However, Mrs. Elton is so truly obnoxious and obvious in her attempts to self-promote that she is my favorite.”
“She is so full of herself in an annoying way. A direct opposite of Emma, who is immaturely full of herself but in a kinder, gentler way.”
“Isabella Thorpe is such a manipulative, heartless brat with a smile.”
“Isabella Thorpe may be selfish, but she makes life fun!”
“Jane Fairfax could have been a heroine herself — if she had a little bit money.”
Most Ill-Used Character (perceived ill-usage)
Mrs. Bennet (35%)
Mr. Woodhouse (18%)
Mary Musgrove (16%)
Frank Churchill and George Wickham (6% each)
“Since they all perceive themselves ill-used by their own actions, I can’t choose only one.”
“Most deservedly ill-used: Gen Tilney. Most perceived ill-usage: Mrs. Bennet.”
“Mary Musgrove is the perfect depiction of a whiny, complaining hypochondriac — the relative/neighbor you want to avoid at all costs. Jane Austen is spot-on in describing how she just expects others to do for her, including nursing her own young son so that she can go out to dinner!”
“I think Mr. Woodhouse gets a bad rap. He is a loving father and he dotes on both of his daughters. He is a hypochondriac but Austen makes him seem more of a fool than someone who is afraid.”
“If you can hear any other character over Mrs. Bennet’s self-proclaimed hardships, I’d be very much surprised.”
“Who can blame Mrs. Bennet for being such a wreck? Her husband has done nothing for his daughters in the event they do not marry.”
“General Tilney is perceived as being a Gothic monster in Northanger Abbey. Catherine supposes he may have killed his wife. Tilney is perceived as a gold digger, who’s only concern is managing the upkeep of the abbey through his children’s marital alliances.”
Most Ill-Used Character (actual ill-usage)
Anne Elliot (18%)
Fanny Price 15%
Elinor Dashwood and Mrs. Smith (13% each)
Jane Bennet and Harriet Smith (7% each)
Jane Fairfax, Robert Martin and Mr. Rushworth (6% each)
“Anne Elliot is the the most ill-used. She is constantly taken advantage of by her family because she is so good.”
“This is a tough one! But Mrs. Smith’s actual physical well-being and life were damaged by her ill-usage.”
“William Walter Elliot behaved disgracefully toward her. But Mrs Dashwood was definitely ill-used by her stepson and nasty daughter-in-law.”
“Eliza Williams is obviously the most ill-used, but she is more of a plot device than a character. Poor Anne is put upon abysmally by her entire family, starting with the interfering Lady Russell. And Captain Wentworth holds a grudge against her for eight years and essentially snubs her after his return!”
“Mr. Rushworth has no guile — he just got taken in. Like Count Orsino in Twelfth Night, he was merely in love with the idea of being in love.”
“I would write in Miss Bates.”
“We feel Jane Fairfax’s pain.”
“Elinor Dashwood bears everything in silence. She is the perfect martyr that we are all ready to do battle for and tell everyone to stop misusing her.”

“Harriet Smith. Emma should’ve left her alone so she could marry the man she loved in the beginning!”

“Mrs. Clay is pretty much like Mrs Smith in all respects, except that the heroine is not her friend and partisan. Imagine having to put in all that time listening to that pair of twits, Sir Walter and eldest daughter, just to assure her kids’ future.”

Most Annoying Suitor
Mr. Collins by a mile (56%)
John Thorpe (17%)
Philip Elton and Frank Churchill (9% each)

“Worst ever!!! Mr. Collins.”
“Mr. Collins makes you squirm from the start. He makes so many mistakes and makes a fool out of himself.”
“All he sees is William Collins. He becomes really nasty in the letter he writes to ‘console’ the Bennets.”
“Mr. Collins, of course, for being so unctuous and insincere. But, John Thorpe is a close second because he boasts, lies, puts Catherine in danger and almost keeps her captive with his attentions.”
“Mr. Collins, but Frank Churchill is a close second.”

“Frank Churchill was deceitful throughout and treated Jane Fairfax poorly.”
“His teasing Jane Fairfax and flirting with Emma were unnecessary and seemed to be for his own enjoyment.”

“Philip Elton: Dude, take a hint!”
“Elton is a total snob.”

“William Walter Elliot is using every possible trick in his arsenal.”

“Edward Ferrars is engaged to another woman and disappears for long stretches.”

“Edmund Bertram is clueless to his own feelings and allowed his head to be turned by flattery.”

“John Thorpe has no redeeming quality to save him. His limited character development fully expresses him.”

Comedic Character
Mr. Collins (23%)
Miss Bates and Mrs. Bennet (13% each)
Emma Woodhouse (10%)
Mrs. Jennings (9%)
Mary Musgrove and Mrs. Elton (7% each)

“Mr. Woodhouse is the funniest character in all of Austen’s novels. His favorite food is gruel.”

“Emma Woodhouse is funny, charming! It’s funny to see how right she feels about things, only to be proven wrong.”
“Emma: The smart ones are always the funniest.”

“Oh, they’re all so good! But, the amount of dialogue given to Miss Bates is truly unique in all of Jane Austen. You read it and go, blah blah blah, and then there’s just these gems of real information hidden in her rambling speech. She is a perfectly portrayed old maid, but sweet and kind as well. I do love Mrs. Allen, though, too for her insipidness. And what about Lady Bertram?”
“Miss Bates: Her long dialogues are both hilarious and perceptive.”

“Mrs. Jennings is the only one who has fun while trying to be funny.”

“I would have to say Mr. Bennet as I love his reserved yet sarcastic nature. He is also not annoying.”

“Miss Bates, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Jennings, John Knightley, Mary Musgrove, even Emma all have their moments.”

“Mr. Rushworth: His four and twenty speeches.”

“Mrs. Elton is so pretentious and haughty that it is hilarious.”
“Mrs. Elton is so absurd she’s hysterical.”

“Sir Walter Elliot is so totally ridiculous, transparent and thoughtless that he elicits no sympathy from the reader.”

Parental Figures
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner (14%)
Mr. and Mrs. Morland and Mrs. Dashwood (12% each)
Mr. and Mrs. Weston (11%)
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, and Mrs. Jennings (9% each)
Mr. Woodhouse and Lady Russell (8% each)

The worst: Gen. Tilney followed by Mrs. Norris