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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam

  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

Word Wenches Staff

Wench Staff Emeritae

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  • Want to read ALL the posts by a specific Wench? Just scroll down to the bottom of her post and click on her name!

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)

    Awards Won:

    • RWA RITA

    • RWA Honor Roll

    • RWA Top 10 Favorite

    • RT Lifetime Achievement

    • RT Living Legend

    • RT Reviewers Choice

    • Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews

    • Golden Leaf

    • Barclay Gold

    • ABA Notable Book

    • Historical Novels Review Editors Choice

    • AAR Best Romance

    • Smart Bitches Top 10

    Kirkus Reviews Top 21

    Library Journal Top 5

    Publishers Weekly Top 5

    Booklist Top 10

    • Booktopia Top 10

    • Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Bestseller Lists:

    NY Times

    • Wall Street Journal

    • USA Today

    • Waldenbooks Mass Market

    • Barnes & Noble

    • Amazon.com

    Chicago Tribune

    • Rocky Mountain News

    • Publishers Weekly


« Happy Paddy's Day! | Main | Alissa Baxter: A South African Novelist »


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Sonya Heaney

I’m really liking the cover for this one. You never really see ‘street view’ covers.

Favourite Shakespeare play?

I’ve loved A Midsummer Night’s Dream since I was cast as the Changeling in the Queensland Ballet’s production back when I was eight! Since then I’ve performed in a number of productions (always ballet) of that play, graduating through the ranks up to Hermia. So that play is a favourite – and Romeo and Juliet is a sentimental favourite for the crazy drama! Plus, who didn't want Romeo (without the suicide) back when they were fourteen...

Sonya Heaney

Oh, and least favourite: The Taming of the Shrew. There's only so much misogyny I can take with my history!

Andrea Penrose

Ha, ha, ha, Have to agree!

Andrea Penrose

I do love Midsummer Night's Dream for the magical fun of it. As I child, I love the sets and the mischief of Puck—despite the darker elements of human nature, it comes across as a light, delightful comedy of errors put right. And I have to confess, Hamlet is probably my least favorite. All that family angst!


I like the Tempest and Othello more than the comedies. I like the operatic versions of Othello too, even though I want to shout at him to think rather than react. I think the historic plays need more attention but confess I haven't been spending much time with Shakespeare. I once had to play the part of Caliban from the Tempest for a day.
Still find it hard to understand King Lear even though had to teach it once when I was in college-- that experience just showed me how much I didn't know. I would like to see a good performance of it. I don't get out much .

Kylan Alexander

I was never a fan of Shakespeare until recently. I finally started to really read his stuff and I can appreciate it. I don't have a favorite. I love romance and mystery so this book looks really good.

Tracy Grant

Sonya, I was a tree spirit in Midsummer when I was an apprentice at the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival in college. I know most of the play by heart from that summer of performances!

Thanks so much for Cara/Andrea and the Wenches for having me back - it's a treat!

Tracy Grant

Nancy, there's a wonderful modern opera of The Tempest by British composer Thomas Ades (I saw it at Santa Fe a few years ago). Kylan, great to hear you like romance and mystery!

Hannah Ettema

I fell in love with "Into the Wilderness" by Sara Donati and the subsequent series.

The first book takes place some years after the Last of the Mohicans and follows the son of Hawkeye.

The entire series reminds me of the Outlander series. Very rich characters with a lot of story.

Tracy Grant

Sounds wonderful, Hannah! Cool how it takes off from a "Last of the Mohicnas"!


Not a book, but I LOVED "Bride and Prejudice." My absolute favorite version of "Pride and Prejudice."


When I was teaching high school, I really loved teaching "Romeo and Juliet." My freshmen did a fun project, they all acted out scenes, and we learned to do the "Moresca" from the Zeffirelli film! My favorite play to read or watch these days is probably "Much Ado About Nothing" or "Twelfth Night."

I really enjoyed Jennifer Lee Carrell's "Interred With Their Bones", which is also a mystery set around a lost Shakespeare manuscript.

I love your books, Tracy, and I can't wait to read this newest one!

Tracy Grant

I saw Bride & Prejudice when it came out with a friend and her young daughter, Christine - a lot of fun!

Tracy Grant

What a great high school project, Ashley! The Jennifer Lee Carrell book sounds wonderful - I'll have to look for it!


I liked the Dante Club by Mathew Pearl. Not only does it center around The Inferno, but it has Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell as the main characters trying to solve the murders which parallel parts of Dante's Inferno.


I love the 1961 movie, "West Side Story" which of course is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but with great music and dancing.

Louisa Cornell

I saw my first Shakespeare play, Macbeth, in Stratford on Avon when I was 12 years old. It starred a young actor you may have heard of - Patrick Stewart! I'd read all of Shakespeare's plays before that, but seeing it performed in Shakespeare's hometown was an amazing experience and made me a lifelong fan of live performances of his plays.

Many, many years later one of my first opera roles was Desdemona in Otello. I loved every minute of it, but those of us in the troupe were often in trouble during rehearsals as we tended to make wisecracks about singing while being strangled to death. :)

I taught high school English and History for five years and I once bet my students I would bungee jump if they would read three of Shakespeare's plays that year. I don't know which they enjoyed more - listening to me scream on the way down or reading Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth. Even redneck students in Montgomery, Alabama who have been kicked out of every school in town learn to love Shakespeare when they are made to see how very like themselves and people they know his characters are.

And I must admit West Side Story still strikes me as a wonderful retelling of Romeo and Juliet.

Mary Jo Putney

Tracy, this sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for visiting the Word Wenches.

And Louisa--as always, you have the most FASCINATING stories to tell!

Tracy Grant

Karin and Louisa, I love West Side Story as well! Louisa, I agree with Mary Jo, your stories are so fascinating. I love how you introduced your students to Shakespeare. I took a friend's sons to Henry IV Part I when they were six and nine, and they loved it - I think they were too young to be afraid of it. At that age, all adult talk sounds a bit odd, so they weren't afraid of the language.

Mary Jo, thanks again to you and Cara/Andrea and the rest of the Wenches for the warm welcome! So fun to be here!


I love Drood by Dan Simmons, inspired by Charles Dickens' last - and unfinished - book 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'. In the Simmons book, Dickens, his family, publisher, Wilkie Collins and assorted other (real) characters are entwined with the mysterious and fairly menacing (fictional) character Drood - and yes, Dickens is actually writing TMOED in this book. It all gets tangled up together; such a fabulous read I couldn't put it down. Very thrilling!

Sonya Heaney

I’d agree with you on Hamlet. I did a six month study unit on that play in college – turned me off for life!

Andrea Penrose

Teresa, thanks again so much for visiting! We always love to have you . . .and it's such fun to see all the favorite books/plays mentioned here. West Side Story DOES remind me of Romeo and Juliet. But then, Shakespeare was so brilliant because he catured themes that are so elemental in human nature, right?


Oh, my, this story sounds so good! I have read about half of the 1599 book and it is fascinating. Should get back to that...

Favorite Shakespeare play would have to be Much Ado, although As You Like It is pretty charming, too. Hamlet, Macbeth, and Henry V are always a treasure trove of language and character. I haven't been for years, but I always loved going to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. That is where, when I was sixteen, I fell in love with Shakespeare. That year I saw Midsummer and Henry V and was hooked.

Eager to read The Berkeley Square Affair!

Maria M.

I loved Shakespeare when I was young, but my children didn't. The language becomes harder to understand with every generation. Many pupils now seem to regard him as a chore rather than a delight.

There seems to have been a time when educated people, especially in the UK, were quoting him all the time - judging by the books of Michael Innes and Georgette Heyer and others of the first half of the twentieth century - but now, not so much.

Other British playwrights I love are Oscar Wilde and the very funny Richard Brinsley Sheridan - I'd love to see a good stage version of The Critic. It's interesting how many decades in the 19th century there were in between those two, when as far as I know no good plays were written at all in Great Britain, including the Regency Period. They did write and produce many plays, but those seems horrid schlock to later generations, I gather. Like our current reality TV and soap operas will look to our descendants.

Annette N

I loved the Zefferili version of Romeo and Juliet, because he made every scene so gorgeous. Probably Italy at that point in time was not populated by so much beauty - it must have had at least a small amount of dirt, dust and not so beautiful people in lovely costumes

But, overall I seem to have lost so much of my former love of Shakespeare. Or I think I must be in exactly the right frame of mind to enjoy him as I once did.
If you are talking about characters who study the past.....I am a huge fan of Amelia Peabody and her husband Emerson. Elizabeth Peters made me laugh at the exploration of pyramids and the finding of mummies. Never has the finding of old dried up dead bodies held so much entertainment for me.

Mary Chen

I'm not knowledgeable about plays, but we studied Shakespeare's tragedies in school, and my favorite of them is Hamlet. Hamlet resounded to me as a character; his struggle acute and melancholy. The contemplation with which his soliloquy expressed was sublime. I loved it.


A favorite Shakespeare play would be Macbeth. The witches with their touch of the supernatural is fascinatingly evil.

Jo Banks

Is it treasonable to say I can't stand Hamlet ?I find it so morbid !But then to be truthful I am not fond of anything without a HEA !! I do like Macbeth plenty of blood and gore but the good guys prevale !And of course there are kilts !


I'm squeeing like a fan girl here! I love your books, Ms. Grant, and am really looking forward to The Berkeley Square Affair. The combination of your intricate plotting and your excellent history makes your books a must read for me. Although I *still* haven't gotten over the Suzanne reveal! ;-)

Favorite Shakespeare has to be Henry V, especially with Branagh in the movie role. His St. Crispin's Day speech was brilliant.


Teresa, I love this series and cannot wait to read the new book. And since it involves both Shakespeare and a mystery from the past that makes it even better. I have also enjoyed visiting the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, but it is hard to pick a favorite play. As You Like It is definitely one of them, but there are so many more!


I honestly don't have a favorite Shakespeare play.... I prefer the comedies just because there is SO much angst in the tragedies. :-) We visited the rebuilt Globe several years ago and I was very upset that we weren't able to watch a play when we were there.

Tracy Grant

Raquel, I missed this comment earlier - I've heard good things about The Dante Club but haven't read it. Thanks for the req!

Tracy Grant

Malvina, Drood sounds wonderful - I love tangled stories, not to mention Dickens!

Cara/Andrea, so true about Shakespeare and themes elemental to the human condition. His insight never ceases to amaze me.

Anne, Much Ado is probably my favorite as well though it's hard to pick a favorite. I love Hamlet and am constantly finding new things in it. I saw a wonderful production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a few years ago.

Maria, so true about the plays written in the Regency. They did also perform Shakespeare and Sheridan and other writers from the past. In my fictional world, Simon Tanner is a very talented writer. I like to think his work would have lasted :-).

Tracy Grant

Annette, I love the Peabody/Emerson books as well!

Mary, I think Hamlet is such a rich play! And Jackie, the witches are definitely memorable! I did those scenes in college as part of a project that collaged together scenes from different plays (the other two being The Three Sisters and Crimes of the Heart).

Jo, I love the different reactions we're getting to Hamlet! It's so interesting how different plays resonate with different people. I do love Much Ado for the happily ever after and a love story that really gets to me.

Donna, thank you, that makes my day!! I also love Henry V and the Branagh movie (as well as his Much Ado, though both plays were favorites of mine before the movies).

Jane, so fabulous to hear you like the series and great to "meet" someone else who enjoys Ashland. Such a special place. One thing I love is how different productions bring out different aspects in the plays.

Glenda, how wonderful to have visited the Globe! I haven't - yet - despite several trip to England. You'll have to go back to see a play - and I clearly have to take my daughter some day!


Love your books. You are great at creating characters I care deeply about. I don't want to win your book because I want to BUY it to support you so you can continue to keep writing.

Tracy Grant

Thank you, Edith - that is so lovely to hear and so appreciated!!

Sonya Heaney

We all seem to have an attachment to that play! It's not the most serious one, but I can't help but love it. :)

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