I love Jane Austen. I admit to being a tad bit saddened by the distance from characters that is necessarily present in her works, but for a work of the period she does incredible things that truly allow even the modern reader to connect with Elinor and Marianne, the heroines of the novel. Also fantastic, particularly in this novel, is her ability to satirize genuinely (if that is possible) her society. It is what it is, and yet due to her humor and perhaps also to a modern perspective, there is an underlying critical current.
Although to me there are characters and occurrences in this work that are very similar to those in Pride and Prejudice (or, I suppose, the other way around), the novel is unique in and of itself. Elinor and Marianne are strikingly different, yet I find points to sympathize with both of them. Their mother is silly, and Elinor is more maternal, but she is also busy with her own love story as rational as she may be. I think it is disappointing that Austen includes the figure of their younger sister and yet she disappears, but that is a minor point. The scandalous story of Eliza and her daughter is an honest truth that I appreciate as a reader who is used to the fairly idealized world of Eliza Bennett, in whose novel even servants are not mentioned. Not, that Austen acknowledges every realistic point of life, but i think that this novel holds the day-to-day more closely than others.
I adore the women she writes, who years later I still identify with as a young woman in 2008. Although our lives are very different, the feelings are the same, the worries and the personalities ring true. This is, I think, what has kept her books selling for so long