I really enjoyed doing this interview for Maria Grazia’s lovely site, My Jane Austen Book Club:
In your new book, your second Austen-dedicated one, The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman , you point our how much Jane Austen has to teach to contemporary women. What is lesson number one, the basic one?
I think the first, most basic lesson Austen has for us is about becoming women of substance—which is not something we readily think about today. We may think about being happy or having fun, but not so much about being substantive, about forging our character and developing the kind of self-knowledge Austen wanted all of her heroines to have. She couldn’t abide foolishness (a la Lydia Bennet). Her heroines were strong women who did the right thing, who saw through the social heirarchy to a person’s true worth, who could carry on an intelligent, meaningful conversation. That’s worth aiming for.