In Mansfield Park, the underappreciated character becomes the hero of the story. Dumped off on her relatives and looked down on as the poor, pitiful relation, Fanny Price sticks to her principles no matter how much she’s pressured to act otherwise. In the end, she is proven right and rewarded with requited love.
If you adore reading along as a neglected diamond in the rough finds their happy ending, these six books are for you.
To be on the list, the books must follow the Underdog/Misfit Finds Their Niche trope, and have good reviews from multiple sources. Our main character has been trudging along, held down or ignored, but after the plot unfolds they will be shining stars. Come on, admit it. You love it when everyone in the book has to admit they overlooked the best character all along.
(All book descriptions come from Goodreads)
1. #Nerd by Cambria Hebert
“Two people from completely different worlds are about to be thrown together… In more ways than one. She wants to keep her scholarship. He wants to stay on the team. An awkward alliance doesn’t even begin to cover Rimmel and Romeo’s relationship. But that’s about to change. It starts with a dare. An initiation. A challenge. Quickly, it turns into more. But when you’re a victim of your status, there is no room for anything real. The rules are clear and simple. Stick to your circle.
And never fall in love with anyone on the outside.”
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
“Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.”
3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
“Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered on his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior, there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.”
4. A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh
“Kit Butler is cool, dangerous, one of London’s most infamous bachelors—marriage is the last thing on his mind. But Kit’s family has other plans. Desperate to thwart his father’s matchmaking, Kit needs a bride…fast. Enter Miss Lauren Edgeworth.
A year after being abandoned at the altar, Lauren has determined that marriage is not for her. When these two fiercely independent souls meet, sparks fly—and a deal is hatched. Lauren will masquerade as Kit’s intended if he agrees to provide a passionate, adventurous, unforgettable summer. When summer ends, she will break off the engagement, rendering herself unmarriageable and leaving them both free. Everything is going perfectly—until Kit does the unthinkable: He begins to fall in love. A summer to remember is not enough for him. But how can he convince Lauren to be his…for better, for worse, for the rest of their lives?”
5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?”
6. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
“Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As the niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.”
If you like the enemies to lovers trope, try 5 Books For Readers Who Love Pride and Prejudice
Or if a second chance romance is more your style, try 5 Books For Readers Who Love Jane Austen’s Persuasion