Persuasion - Jane Austen
In the opinion of her father and sisters, Anne Elliott is a nonentity. They constantly take advantage of her good nature. But when they condescendingly praise her goodness in spending time with an old schoolmate who is now impoverished and ill, they can’t imagine that she doesn’t do it from pity, but because she actually enjoys Mrs. Smith’s company. Indeed, Anne’s greatest strength is her ability to appreciate people not for their rank or how they can advance her socially, as the rest of her family does, but for their own character and accomplishments.

I am told that this is Jane Austen’s most democratic novel, inspired it seems by the way that the Navy brings together people from diverse backgrounds. It was the first of her novels that I’ve read, but won’t be the last. Her famous caustic wit is here, and a gallery of characters the more comic of whom veer close to cartoonishness. The modern writer’s dictum to "show, not tell" was not in force in the early 19th century, but I can’t censure analyses of people and situations that are never dull or vague in the hands of such a skilled writer. And yes, this is a pretty romantic story, too.