WSIRN Ep 55: Choosing contemporary fiction with staying power (for Jane Austen’s 5x great niece)

For the Janeite who ran out of Austen novels | Modern Mrs Darcy

Hey readers, your Tuesday literary matchmaking fix is here!

Today’s guest is Rebecca Smith, who’s joining us from Hampshire. Rebecca is a longtime reader, a former writer in residence at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, and she currently teaches creative writing in the U.K. She’s the author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas and the recently published book The Jane Austen Writer’s Club. Around here, we don’t think you need an excuse to love Jane Austen, but if Rebecca needed one, she’d be set, because I found out during our conversation that she is Jane Austen’s great great great great great niece.Today we talk about all kinds of good books—not just Jane Austen, but if you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed.


What Should I Read Next #55: Choosing contemporary fiction with staying power for Jane Austen's 5x great niece Rebecca Smith
Check out Rebecca Smith’s books below, and connect with her on Twitter or via the Bloomsbury website.

The Jane Austen Writers’ Club
Miss Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas
A Bit of Earth
The Bluebird Café
Happy Birthday & All That

Books discussed in this episode: 

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

• Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen
• The works of Anne Tyler
• The works of Barbara Pym
• A Long Way from Verona, by Jane Gardam
• The Sidmouth Letters, by Jane Gardam
• A Certain Smile, by Françoise Sagan
• Bonjour Tristesse, by Françoise Sagan
• Emma, by Jane Austen
• Less Than Zero, by Bret Easton Ellis
• My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout
• Someone at a Distance, by Dorothy Whipple
• A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
• Possession, by A.S. Byatt
• A Whistling Woman, by A.S. Byatt
• The Virgin in the Garden, by A.S. Byatt


Leave A Comment
  1. Michelle @bookmusings says:

    I love Barbara Pym and Dorothy Whipple and was so happy to hear both of those authors discussed in this episode. Some other titles that I think Rebecca will also enjoy are: They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple, The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins, A View Of The Harbour and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, and Stoner by John Williams.
    Loved this episode, Anne!

  2. Brianna says:

    Oh this episode was such a soft place to land as I drove to work this morning in stop and go traffic! I so enjoyed hearing Rebecca’s insight into Jane’s world! Adding a few more books to my reading list!

  3. Barbara says:

    I agree so much with Pym, Whipple and Taylor. Two others I would add are Mrs. Gaskill ((Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters) and all of Penelope Lively. Looking forward to finding the new to me European authors. Wonderful episode.

  4. Mary says:

    What does Rebecca think of Graham Greene? Does she recommend?
    I would like to recommend Rosalind Pilcher and Chris Cleave to her, although I would imagine that is unnecessary. ☺️

  5. Joy O'Toole says:

    I love your choices for Rebecca. I completely agree with Lucy Barton and Someone at a Distance. They are both excellent. I was very excited to hear about the book by A.S. Byatt. I hadn’t heard of that one.

    I’m fairly sure Rebecca has read North and South by Elisabeth Gaskell and the Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope, but is she hasn’t, I think she would like them. Also, Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor are beautiful books.

  6. Kate says:

    I got Our Endless Numbered Days from the library and read the first third last night. Gorgeously written. It reminds me a bit of Swamplandia! by Karen Russell so far.

  7. Bettye says:

    I requested and received Someone at a Distance for Christmas and absolutely loved it! I read it in 3 or 4 days. It has been a long time since I found a novel so poignant and moving. I’m looking forward to reading more of the suggestions in this episode and from the commenters also! Thanks so much.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.