Saturday 1 July 2023


Hello everyone and happy weekend! Summer has come and with it some spare time for leisure reading. I'm having great fun leafing through a witty modern romance with so many winks at Jane Austen and her world. What Would Jane Austen Do? is what you need to relax and enjoy these first summer days. 

While the story is not exactly a retelling of any Austen novel, each chapter starts with a Jane Austen quote, and the main character Maddy is an Austen superfan, which leads to references to her books, characters and quotations.

I'm really glad and grateful to the author, Linda Corbett, for being our guest at My Jane Austen Book Club and for taking the time to talk Jane Austen with me. 

Please scroll down to discover more about the book and its author. I hope you'll enjoy reading and will be willing to welcome Linda and share your thoughts in the comment section below after finishing.  

Hello Linda and welcome to My Jane Austen Book Club! Would you tell us about your first encounter with Jane Austen and her world?

 I remember my sister reading Pride & Prejudice for her English GCSE and saying how much she loved it, so that was probably my first introduction to Jane Austen. Then a few years later, my father gave me a beautiful bound copy of four Austen novels, which still has pride of place on my bookcase.

I’ve read so many good things about your What Would Jane Austen do? Readers are enthusiastic! How did you come to write a novel with that title? How Austen-inspired or Austen-related is it?   

It was while I was scouting around for ideas for book 2 that my editor suggested it as a great title for a book and asked if it inspired a story? I already had my journalist, romance-loving heroine Maddy in my head, and I knew I wanted to write an enemies-to-lovers story, so I then created a hero who (for complicated reasons that Maddy uncovers) thinks romance is frivolous escapism and scandalously suggests that Jane Austen might be past her sell-by date. At around the same time, my friend was telling me about a visit to West Horsley Place, which is a large country house formerly owned by the Duchess of Roxburghe and was inherited on her death by her great-nephew Bamber Gascoigne. I loved the idea of an inheritance trope, and in some mysterious brain alchemy, all the components just came together. I have no idea where the literary festival idea came from, but I thought it would be fun to write, and it provided the backdrop for my cast of villagers.

Whilst the story is not a retelling of any Austen novel, each chapter starts with a Jane Austen quote, and the main character Maddy is, of course, an Austen superfan which drives the references to her books, characters and quotations.

Did you discover something curious or relevant about Jane Austen  and her work while writing your book?

What surprised me was the number of quotes on the internet, purporting to be written by Jane Austen, that were not taken from any of her books. Some were taken from the films or television adaptations, although one or two appeared to have no Austen-connection at all! In compiling the quotes for my chapters, I checked them against the original texts, just to make sure!

It was American journalist and blogger Deborah Yaffe who first drew my attention to these misquotes, but I’m sure Ms Austen would be highly amused to think there are tote bags and mugs out there with words attributed to her that she hadn’t penned.

 Jane Austen started showing her writing talent very soon in her life. Were you also a young girl who loved writing ?

 I’d love to say yes, but sadly that is not the case. I have always loved books and reading though. It was as an adult that I started to write a regular column for a charity magazine, and when the magazine folded, I decided to try my hand at writing a full length novel, which turned out to be a lot harder than I first thought! In total I clocked up 221 rejections before landing a contract with One More Chapter for manuscript number six.

 Do you have a favourite Austen novel? And who are your favourite heroine and hero?

I will always have a soft spot for Sense & Sensibility as it was the first Austen book I read, and I adore Emma Thompson’s screenplay. As for favourite heroines, it’s a difficult choice but I would have to go with Elizabeth Bennet – I love her wit and the fact that she knows her own mind and has to put up with the antics of her younger sisters. It’s even harderto pick a favourite hero, but I think maybe I’d pick Mr Knightley. Or possibly Captain Wentworth. Or Mr Darcy? Nope, it’s too hard to choose!

 Has Jane Austen inspired you or your writing somehow?

 Before I started writing this book, I read “Jane Austen’s Guide to Romance” by Lauren Henderson. This was very informative, and provided a focus on the Austen characters as opposed the actual plots of her books. This gave me lots of background as to how my heroine Maddy might look at relationships through a Jane Austen filter. I had already planned out the story, but of course things evolve along the way, and sometimes words or phrases just popped into the manuscript!

I wanted to make sure there were at least some nods to all six books, but sometimes these were updated, so for example with reference to the gothic theme of Northanger Abbey, Maddy and the local villagers have a ghosthunting evening, which was huge fun to write. It’s also lovely that reviewers are spotting these references, and one book blogger wrote in her review: “…full of characters who wouldn’t be out-of-place in Austen’s Regency world” which was lovely to read.

However, I wanted this to be fundamentally a book that anyone could pick up, with or without an extensive knowledge of Jane Austen. It is therefore not a re-imagining of any particular Austen story, although Maddy’s overbearing mother who’s obsessed with her finding a husband while she’s living in her big house, might seem vaguely familiar….

 If you could travel back to the Regency Era, what would you miss the most and what would you like to see/do?

 I think it would be fascinating to visit the past and experience things that I have only read about in books. I’d love to visit the theatre, the shops, and do a tour of one of those grand country houses.Oh, and I’d have to sneak in to a ball somewhere! However, it would have to be a short visit to the past as I’m far too attached to modern day conveniences such as showers, fridges, and, of course, myphone. In the absence of said phone, I’d commission a painter to do a few sketches of my trip to bring back with me.

 Why  should Janeites or Austen readers get a copy of WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO? and read it? How would you invite them to do it?

 I think I’ll let the book reviewers answer that question, so here are a few quotes from the recent blog tour:

“One of the great things about this book is that it really captures the essence of Jane Austen's novels…Jane Austen fans will find plenty to love about the book, and those who are less familiar with her works will still enjoy the humour and romance of the story.”

“I loved how many references this book had to Austen; her work, life and everything in between. A true joy to read for any Austen fan.”

    “If you're looking for a fun, heartwarming read that will transport you to an English village and make you believe in love, then What Would Jane Austen Do? is the book for you.”

Anyone wishing to buy the book can order it from their local online retailer, or via this link

Alternatively, you can pop into your local bookshop and ask them to order it in for you, unless you live in Bath in which case I believe Mr B’s Emporium does have a stock, together with complementary bookmarks.


‘Witty, sharp and beautifully observed – I feel sure Jane would approve’ Julie Caplin


It's a truth often acknowledged that when a journalist and Jane Austen fan girl ends up living next door to a cynical but handsome crime writer, romantic sparks will fly!

When Maddy Shaw is told her Dear Jane column has been cancelled she has no choice but to look outside of London’s rental market. That is until she’s left an idyllic country home by the black sheep of the family, long-not-so-lost Cousin Nigel.

But of course there’s a stipulation… and not only is Maddy made chair of the committee for the annual village literary festival, she also has to put up with bestselling crime author –and romance sceptic – Cameron Massey as her new neighbour.

When Maddy challenges Cameron to write romantic fiction, which he claims is so easy to do, sparks fly both on and off the page…


Sparkling romance, secrets from the past…Witty and romantic, I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages  Alison Sherlock, bestselling author of The Village of Lost and Found


Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is a member of Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability, and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, gardening, or cuddling guinea pigs. What Would Jane Austen Do is her second published novel.

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