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The Wenches


  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

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  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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June 2023

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Wenches Statistics

  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

    Novellas published: 74

    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)


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Comments

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Andrea Penrose

Oh, Anne, what a wonderful blog! As I just arrived home last night from Morocco, the wonders of foreign travel really resonate. Seeing new sights, experiencing new cultures, tasting exotic cuisines is such a fabulous way to remember that our own little universes are just a tiny part of a great, glorious world. Crossing physical boundaries expands the mind and broadens perspective. IMO, it helps make one more tolerant and appreciative of life in genereal.

My boyfreind at the time and I toured around Europe on a motorcycle when I was in college (much to my parents' dismay) and we had all sorts of funny and crazy experiences (nowadays, I would not find going over the Gotthardt Pass in a July snowstorm nearly so "cool" as I did back then!)

As a kid, I loved travel books (Gerald Durrell's books on Greece in the '30s are absolutely wonderful) so travel always appealed to me. I've been lucky enough to travel to many interesting places, but there is still so much I want to see! Greece is on my To See list, along with Australia and South Africa.

Susanna Fraser

I very much have itchy feet, and one of the most frustrating aspects of my current stage of life (late 30's, young kid, just bought a house) is that it's been over six years since we've had a proper vacation. All we've done is go back to Alabama and Oklahoma to see our families. This year will be our first real vacation with our daughter, and we're just going to the Oregon Coast, but it's better than nothing.

But I'm already saving up for and planning my dream trip: I'm going to spend a month or more in Europe in the summer of 2015 and be at Waterloo for the bicentennial of the battle. I'll probably start out by myself, since my daughter's school year runs into late June (she'll be 11 then) and I'm only going to pull her out if she actually wants to miss the end of 5th grade and her elementary school "graduation." That'll be when I geek out and visit battlefields. Then at the end my husband and daughter will join me, and we'll take her around France and the UK.

Cynthia Owens

Wonderful blog, Anne! I definitely have "itchy feet," and have for as long as I can remember. I finally got to take, not exactly a Grand Tour, but very much a dream vacation. Three weeks in England, Ireland and Wales. I'd wanted to see Ireland since I was in my teens, and I felt as if I were coming home when the ferry docked in Dublin. Of course, I didn't see nearly as much as I wanted to in the 10 days we were in Ireland, so I'm planning a return trip. Decided to give myself a fantastic 50th birthday gift in 2013. Two weeks exploring Galway and Wales. And I can't wait!

maryjoputney

What a fabulous survey of Grand Tours old and new, Anne! Colonel the Hon. Gordon was quite the handsome fellow! Plus, those tours tie in with the watercolor blog Cara/Andrea did a last week, since in the age before cameras, a young gentleman often took an artist along to record the sites seen.

When I was doing my summer of hitchhiking around Europe in my college years, I met any number of intrepids Ozzies and Kiwis staying in the hostels. They were great--fearless and resourceful, as you say. But I hadn't heard of the Antipodean employment agency that they staffed in London!

I've made it Down Under (twice!) and to South Africa, and a variety of spots in Europe, not to mention two years in England, but it's NOT ENOUGH! In particular, there are so many countries of Europe with such rich history that I have yet to sample. Onward and upward!!!

Hellion

I live in Missouri. Anywhere outside of the state is considered exotic.

However, if I got to do my own grand tour, you can bet your sweet bottom I'd go to England. I'd trot my happy butt all over that island...and Ireland too. (And when I say England I mean United Kingdom...and therefore Scotland and Wales...)

I haven't got to go there yet. But you bet I'd do some author tours: Austen, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling/Harry Potter...

Julie

My daughter is in college now and it is so common for students to complete a year abroad. I remember thinking a about it ages ago when I was in school, but it wasn't terribly common, I was at a public university with not a lot of interaction with my advisor, and I just didn't go. Boy I wish I had, and like Hellion, I'd love to do author tours in the UK.

However, I got to participate a little in my daughter's semester-abroad experience - I spent 10 days in Australia with her in January before her term began. It was a terrific experience, and I hope I get to visit Oz again. And New Zealand! I can so see myself being a "grey nomad". I'll have to work on that!

Deb

Another great blog! I went to Denmark about 25 years ago and would love to go back to see my grandfather's homeland. But, I would stop on the way in England and visit some of the place I read about in Regency stories. Young people around here do not take Grand Tours. Then, again, every four years, our little High School (9th-12th grades, about 100 kids and 15-20 chaperones) travel to Washington, D.C. in late April. The school has done this now for a very long time.

Anne Gracie

Welcome home Cara/Andrea -- the Morocco trip sounds just fabulous and I'm looking forward to more tales and pics. I can't believe you're home so soon.

I suppose therein lies part of the explanation as to why Aussies and New Zealanders tend to make longer tripsβ€” when just the plane trip lasts more than 24 hours, and you're knocked for at least a day by jet lag it's not worth it to travel for a just week or two.

Susanna, save madly and take the kids, too. My parents had itchy feet and not much money, but they took us so many places. When I was eight, my Dad had a job swap to Scotland and we went. Every chance they got they hitched up the caravan and took us away. By the time I was 9 I'd swum most of the main rivers of Europe. We camped in quarries, beside fieldsβ€” all kinds of places, and did it on a shoestring. People say children of that age are too young to appreciate travel, but I loved it and remember sooooo much.

Anne Gracie

Cynthia, two weeks in Wales and Ireland sounds wonderful β€” the perfect 50th birthday present. Galway is so beautiful. The first time I went there as an adult (in my 30's)

I took so many photos. I was in a "David Hockney" phase at the time, and all the photos joined up in a wonderful collage, conveying changes of light and mood and I still love them.
I'd been inspired by an exhibition of Hockney's photo collages at the Tate Gallery in London.
Here are some examples: http://tinyurl.com/6o4nya

Deb

I think I would like to visit New Zealand, too, and fondly remember all the Essie Summers books I read a long time ago. :)

Anne Gracie

Mary Jo, I agree β€” it's not enough - there are so many wonderful places to go and see and experience.

Re your comment: "But I hadn't heard of the Antipodean employment agency that they staffed in London!"

It was a small, discreet agency with fabulous connections, and people passed the address on by word of mouth. I think I have it somewhere in an old address book or diary, myself. They also took on clients through recommendation - from employers and employees. No advertising needed.

In retrospect it sounds like something straight out of an Eva Ibbotson book, and I wish I'd grilled those girls more about them. I never met them, alas, but I had the impression the old ladies were frightfully aristocratic and related to half the blue-bloods of Europe. According to my friends, they had a liking for Australian and NZ girls because they knew how to work, and didn't need looking after.

Anne Gracie

Mary Jo, I agree β€” it's not enough - there are so many wonderful places to go and see and experience.

Re your comment: "But I hadn't heard of the Antipodean employment agency that they staffed in London!"

It was a small, discreet agency with fabulous connections, and people passed the address on by word of mouth. I think I have it somewhere in an old address book or diary, myself. They also took on clients through recommendation - from employers and employees. No advertising needed.

In retrospect it sounds like something straight out of an Eva Ibbotson book, and I wish I'd grilled those girls more about them. I never met them, alas, but I had the impression the old ladies were frightfully aristocratic and related to half the blue-bloods of Europe. According to my friends, they had a liking for Australian and NZ girls because they knew how to work, and didn't need looking after.

Anne Gracie

Hellion, I hope you get to go to Europe and visit all your favorite author locations. My elderly aunt (in her 70's) and her daughter had never been overseas β€” they both married young and never found the time or money to do it. But when she turned 75 she realized it was now or never, and she upped and dragged my cousin and they booked plane tickets and a hotel room for the first night and from then on they winged it β€” went where the fancy took them. My cousin, who is a timid driver, got to drive the hire cars and they stayed in bed and breakfasts, and in cheap hotels and even youth hostels, and dredged up every relative or relative of friends they could find. They had a ball.

Hmm, that reminds me, I must reread travels With My Aunt. Wonderful book

Anne Gracie

Deb, I've never been to Denmark, never been to Norway or Sweden either, but I really, really want to go. My niece and nephew went to Denmark (separately) on a month's exchange with CISV and it changed them, particularly my nephew. He left home a small computerholic who barely looked up from the screen when visitors came. He returned, a sociable lad who always put people before computers. This was not some miracle of Danish culture, by the way β€” the boy he was paired with was just like him, and he realized how boring it was to be around someone who only interacted with a screen. LOL. But both kids came home from their exchanges so much more poised and confident.

When I first wrote for Mills and Boon, so many people mentioned Essie Summers to me I went looking for her books, which are well out of print. Beautiful descriptions of New Zealand.
If you go to New Zealand you won't be disappointed. It's a very beautiful country, with a lot of interest packed into a small area.

maryjoputney

>>In retrospect it sounds like something straight out of an Eva Ibbotson book, and I wish I'd grilled those girls more about them. <<


I had the same thought when I read your blog--that very discreet and well connected agency sounded very, very Eva Ibbotson.

And I don't think anyone could be disappointed by visiting New Zealand! (Nor Australia, either.)

JPoorman

In 1984 (when I was 24) I went to Papua New Guinea to do some research... along the way I got to stop in Australia and stow away on a freighter, slept on a sofa or two and met folks who invited me back... so I went to New Zealand later in the 1980's.

Some of the most adventurous people I met were the Australians and the Kiwi's - and the ships crew were all Brits - Yorkshire, Welsh, Londoners! It certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities.

It wasn't a gap year (envy!!!!) but it was a few months adventure. This has certainly brought all of that back to mind! Thank you!

Travels in my 30's and 40's business to Europe & such has been far more ordinary with hotels and schedules.

Don't know that we really have a 'grey nomad' thing going in the U.S., but am very intrigued by the idea!
cheers, Julie P

JPoorman

Actually, anyone reading this post who really wants to go... go ahead and just do it! Get that passport, reserve a room and buy a ticket!

The first time I went to England I bought a BritRail pass to get from place to place and found a decent Bed and Breakfast near the British museum... I shopped (or looked really) at Harrods, checked out the "Elgin Marbles"... went to the Assembly Rooms in Bath... went to the Smithfield (market) [having been influenced by Roberta Gellis as well as by several hundred Regency novels].

Don't wait until everything is just right in your life - go for a week if that is all you can afford... once you've traveled abroad once - it gets easier and easier to go again and again!
Have fun!
Jpoorman

Patricia Rice

What, hellion, Branson isn't exotic enough? "G"

I've always had itchy feet. When we were young and poor, just driving out of state was enough. But we've traveled most of the states now and a number of countries. Now I want to spent months elsewhere, experiencing different cultures. They need "senior hostels" around the world--ones with real beds and baths. "G"

Anne Gracie

Julie P, I think this is a brilliant comment -- I couldn't agree more.
"Don't wait until everything is just right in your life - go for a week if that is all you can afford... once you've traveled abroad once - it gets easier and easier to go again and again!"

A lot of people put trips off until everything is right and they have lots of time and money, but you don't need to take tours or stay in expensive hotels or spend a lot of money. If you just go and "wing it" like my 75 y.o. aunt did, things just fall into place.

And if you travel alone, the worst part is the worry before you leave. Once you're actually traveling, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to meet people along the way, and how kind and friendly people can be. And even though I've met my fair share of dodgy characters, traveling has always reinforced my faith in the basic goodness of human nature. There's a reason I'm a romance writer.

Pat, I love the sound of "Senior hostels."

Anne Gracie

Just to explain the Grey Nomad thing -- the name comes from a poem written by a woman-- I've forgotten her name, but she's not a famous writer or anything, just an ordinary woman who loves words and who, I think, sent in the poem to a national radio show. Then the title was used in a documentary by a local film-maker, Steve Westh, and it, too was shown on national TV. It's so apt, it caught the public imagination, and though most people here know what a grey nomad is, they don't know the origin of the term.

While many people have traveled overseas, many more of us haven't been to every part of our own country, so on retirement, many people sell up the house or rent it out, and buy a campervan or something like that and head off to explore their own country. Some just do it in their cars, staying at camping grounds.

There are lots of grey nomad blogs. Here are a few:
http://www.susan.com.au/blog/
http://www.greynomadaustralia.com.au/

I'm surprised that more retired Americans don't do that -- I think exploring every state of the US would be a wonderful experience.

Jenny

Hi Anne

I'm one of those Australian Grand Tourers on the late 60s early 70s. I spent two years living and working in England, and periodically touring to parts of the continent as the money and inclination suggested. Today I look at all the wonderful sites that have been roped off or closed to today's tourists - the Parthenon, the Forum, Stonehenge and others - and believe I was one of the lucky ones. I spent shorter periods in Europe over the years, but never less than three months. Now, even though I would love to go back, circumstances don't allow. I can however look back through my memories and relive those wonderful times. No-one can ever take those away from me.

Anne Gracie

Jenny, yes, I recall being able to stand in the middle of Stonehenge and lay my hand on the stones, and wow, what a sensation that was.

I'd read a lot of druid era stories and had been brought up on Henry Treece books, and all of them brought that awareness to the experience.
Not my Asterix comics, though. LOL.

BTW if anyone wants to read a couple of fabulous books about that era: try the Marion Zimmer Bradley book, the mists of Avalon, and also the Pauline Gedge book, the Eagle and the Raven, which is set in the time when the Romans first conquered Britain.

Sue

Oh what a lovely blog! I loved reading everyone's comments. I too have the wanderlust I love the shiver of anticipation before embarking on a new trip. I love airports and never find them boring, in fact Heathrow needs 3 -4 hours just to see all the shops! I also ditto the comments about just doing it - The world is so accessible now and flying is cheap. Arrive in a city and contact the nearest tourist info and they'll find you rooms in your budget. Or book online; We got a great hotel in Prague for $70 two nights including breakfast and free WiFi. We then took the overnight sleeper train to Vienna. It was easy and affordable and saved a night in a hotel. You get into Vienna at 6:30am so have the whole day ahead of you.
Happy Wandering to you all.

Anne Gracie

Sue, that's great encouragement. There's something so exciting about arriving in a city and finding accommodation β€” really it's much easier than most people think. And by doing it, you meet local people, and start to get a real feel for the place.


lara dunston

What a wonderful blog, indeed!

Like Anne and Jenny, I and my husband are a couple of those great Australian 'grand tourers' or 'grantouristas' as we call ourselves.

My addiction to grand touring started when my family dragged me around Australia in a caravan for 5 years as a teen in the mid- to late-1970s.

This year, my husband and I, who naturally became travel writers, have embarked on a year-long Grand Tour we're calling Grantourismo. http://grantourismotravels.com/ Please do come and take a look and let us know what you think!

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