So I have now finished this. I am at a disadvantage relative to many here in that this the the first work by Jane Austen that I have read, and honestly probably the last. So that I can not compare this to any of her other novels. I was surprised by how it all ended, in particular about who became paired up with who.
I get that Austen was mocking or criticizing how the class she was writing about put so much importance on titles and social pecking order. Though to me she was only really lambasting that taken to the extreme, as in the case of Sir Walter and his daughter Elizabeth. Austen does not seem to really question the basic premise of that class system. In fact there was not a single character in the novel to represent what would have been the overwhelming majority of the population of England at that time. That is people who would be too preoccupied with simply getting by to worry over such nonsense. I can't help but compare Austen and this book to the books by Charles Dickens that I really like. Dickens' works are filled with characters drawn from the top to bottom of society, not limited to the small upper class.
This is not really an important topic relative to the novel, but I was struck by how becoming a British naval officer was a good route to wealth and movement into the upper class for men of modest beginnings. I was remained of the great Horatio Hornblower novels. Since the British navy for so long ruled the seas in that era I guess one can't question success. Still it seems surprising that the navy would win battles when the minds of the commanders of ships would have been on their personal financial gain by acquiring prizes, instead of winning the battle.