Like millions around the world, I love all of Austen's novels. I know Pride & Prejudice is the usual no.1, but Persuasion tops my list and has done so for over 30 years, since I first read it age 14. Persuasion has a sweetness, a poignancy and a wonderfully broad cast of characters. Austen's tender portrayal of a happy marriage (Admiral and Mrs Croft), her fun with the hilariously vain Sir Walter Eliot, the forgiveable, misguided maternal nature of Lady Russell's care of the heroine Anne, the cold scheming of Mr Eliot alongside his genuine love for Anne, and above all Anne herself, the neglected middle daughter expected to fall in with everyone's own selfish schemes, yet keeping her sense of humour and, with the odd struggle, her confidence in her own judgement... This is a book certainly written by a woman no longer in her first flush of youth, taking a shrewd look at family life as it really can be, and the dismal prospect of family servitude for a woman who didn't get married. Even the hero, Captain Wentworth is far more believable to me than other Austen heroes. He has a brightness, a zest for life - and a somewhat hasty temper which explains why he never came back to Anne - and also why they are so well suited. Juliet Stevenson is simply superb as the narrator. Her voices for each character are spot on. This is a book to be savoured and read again and again for its subtlety. But some of us have very busy lives, and having Persuasion read to me by a top actress means I can enjoy the book on long car journeys or even short ones, or after a hectic day when I want to wind down before going to sleep. This audio CD set is my top favourite (well, jointly with "Middlemarch"!).