I love this book. Many reviewers describe Fanny as prissy or boring but I see her as having humility rather than weakness and integrity rather than being boring. She is only 18 and has yet to receive genuine love sufficient to enable her to blossom in confidence. Whilst she will always be gentle and considerate she will lose her shyness and insecurity once truly loved by one she can love and cherish in return. Just some real TLC is what she needs to turn the ugly duckling into the swan she really is.
The book is about comparisons: those who carry an inner light of principles and those who have not learnt to listen to it, those who chose stillness and contentment as opposed to those who need constant movement and entertainment, those who value true love and honour as opposed to those who value status and money, chaos and intemperance vs order and duty.
It was written at the beginning of the 1800s which was a time of incredible change. Holding to time honoured principles and not throwing out the good for a new not so good was Austen's perspective.
Whilst I did not agree with some of the judgement on others Fanny makes, at the core she does have the gift of discernment. The one flaw in the book was the final treatment of Maria (pronounced Mariah). She made a serious error which cost her a lot but then her family turned their backs on her. There was no room made for her to develop contrition and learn from what she had chosen to do. I wish Austen had ended the book otherwise but then again, it was probably in keeping with the times; a fallen woman was severely judged in those times. Otherwise, this is one of my favourite novels.