I'm one of those who loves Jane Austen. However, I have to admit I'm not one of those who swoons over Colin Firth. I know, it's an appalling confession, but it is true. I do love the films, but the books are so much more satisfying.
For a long time, Pride and Prejudice was my favorite Austen novel. Up until a year or two ago, I had only read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park. Out of those three, Pride and Prejudice was my favorite. But, as I mentioned, I read Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion recently and I enjoyed them. Persuasion was absolutely wonderful. It is in the running for my favorite Austen book. I also watched what is, I think, the most recent film version of Persuasion (it's not as long as many Austen adaptations) and it was also very good.
So, why is P&P so much more popular than Persuasion? Is it because of the very popular A&E version? S&S seems to be far better known than Persuasion, again, probably because of the popular film. How popular was Jane Austen before the recent batch of film adaptations came out?
Persuasion isn't as long as P&P and probably isn't as complex, so from a literary analysis stance, P&P might be "better." However, Persuasion has such a delightful story with likeable characters that in some ways, Persuasion could be the better story. If you haven't read it, you you love Jane Autsten, it's very worth reading.
And, just for the record, I like Mansfield Park. It is different in its own way from the rest, and Fanny can be very hard to like (it would have helped if she didn't cry quite so much). However, I did relate to Fanny in some ways, and Henry made the whole book fun to read. I also think Fanny is surprisingly strong, despite the fact that she does not fit what we usually think of as a strong woman.
I bought the book in a little bookstore in Amman, Jordan, when I had read every book I had brought at least three times. It was new and fresh for me, and an entirely different world from the one where I had spent the previous five months. I am sure that had an effect on my enjoyment of the book.