This is my final Jane Austen book - the only one I hadn't read. It's definitely not up with my top three (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion), but at the same time I did really like it. I'd probably place it on about a par with Sense and Sensibility (I didn't like Mansfield Park at all). There's something totally endearing about the whole thing, the satire being a little more obvious than in the others I've mentioned. I read somewhere that although this was the last book published, it was the first one she wrote? It definitely shows, particularly in the lack of subtlety, but it's no bad thing. The story is also notably slighter than some, but again, this isn't necessarily a critcism. It's just a completely different beast to the other books.
I loved Catherine. She was so charmingly naive, which is refreshing, given that Austen has a tendency towards very knowing protagonists. She's a little younger than her typical protagonist, which probably accounts for this somewhat, but I just liked her being a little less streetwise than perhaps Elizabeth or Emma (who obviously had their own blind spots, but that's for another review). I felt some elements of Henry's character weren't really fleshed out properly - I couldn't really "see" him the way I could see Knightly or Darcy, for example - but, again, given that this is more of a straightforward story than the others, it was kind of acceptable. I do wish Eleanor's affair had been a little more fleshed out, but again, I mostly put that down to the youth of the author at the time.
John Thorpe (who I kept accidentally calling Iain in my head - sorry, Iain!) was a complete git, which I know was the intention, and made me really, really angry. I find it a little annoying when authors use a set of crossed wires to (in particular) keep couples apart, but the few instances of this are resolved pretty quickly, so I can't complain too much.
In comparison to most other things, this is definitely five stars. I only gave it four because it's not quite a classic Austen, but a very good one nonetheless!