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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:

    β€’ RWA RITA

    β€’ RWA Honor Roll

    β€’ RWA Top 10 Favorite

    β€’ RT Lifetime Achievement

    β€’ RT Living Legend

    β€’ RT Reviewers Choice

    β€’ Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews

    β€’ Golden Leaf

    β€’ Barclay Gold

    β€’ ABA Notable Book

    β€’ Historical Novels Review Editors Choice

    β€’ AAR Best Romance

    β€’ Smart Bitches Top 10

    β€’ Kirkus Reviews Top 21

    β€’ Library Journal Top 5

    β€’ Publishers Weekly Top 5

    β€’ Booklist Top 10

    β€’ Booktopia Top 10

    β€’ Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Bestseller Lists:

    β€’ NY Times

    β€’ Wall Street Journal

    β€’ USA Today

    β€’ Waldenbooks Mass Market

    β€’ Barnes & Noble

    β€’ Amazon.com

    β€’ Chicago Tribune

    β€’ Rocky Mountain News

    β€’ Publishers Weekly


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I was 10 for 10 - you made it much too easy - though #2 made me think because I liked b for that one as well, and #9 is also a common cock-fighting term, I think (which is where the usage was borrowed from, I would imagine).

Calf-clingers? Hmm. Tiny grasping fingers of one's mistress's illegitimate and inconvenient offspring? That's kind of a downer though, isn't it?

Anne Gracie

Yes, Janice but it did make me laugh. Thanks for having a go.
As for it being too easy, I think I veer between too hard and too easy and don;t ever arrive at the Three Bears result β€” just right.
However I comfort myself with the reflection that you are somewhat of a Heyer/Regency expert, so lets hope its not too easy for most people. :)


Thank you for that, Anne. It's such a fascinating period that there's always more to learn. Such a time of extremes, so modern and so primitive. So idealistic and so bigoted. So heartless and so sentimental. So rigid and so free to experiment. It fascinates me. If they'd only had spandex and decent plumbing, I'd move there immediately.

I've read an awful lot of regencies, though, so I think of it simultaneously as genuine history and a created world of common assumptions. I have reviewed a number of them as well. There is no thrill like revisiting a review posted 3 or 4 years ago and finding a honking great typo or a "WTF did I mean by that?" sentence. I know writing is hard and doing it for a living must be horrendous. I salute you all.


This Georgette Heyer reader got 10/10. But I loved your alternatives! I also like Janice's suggestion for Calf-cliners, although maybe we could extend it mean all children? -- like knee-biters.

My suggestion isn't such fun: a type of boot which was fitted to the calf so that the boots didn't slump around the ankle.

I've thought of another: relatives or friends who don't want you to improve yourself and make your way up in the world, holding on to drag you down as you try to climb the ladder of success.

Amy J

Guessed wrong on one and didn't recognize barking irons. Ah well, just means I need to add more Regencies to my current reading list.

Not free creative this morning, but the boot one sounds quite plausible. :-)


I didn't score as high as the other two ladies; but I did get about half right. ( embarrassing to admit!) Since I am from Texas, not far from San Antonio, I would add as a answer to calf-clingers this! An older bull-calf who will not leave his mother alone. ( you know; still wants to suckle?)

Anne Gracie

Ooh, Helena Justina, I do like the version of the relatives who try to hold you back from the ladder of success,
And well done on the perfect score. Thanks.

Anne Gracie

Sheila thats a really good definition of calf-clingers. Thank you. And dont feel embarrassed about getting half right -- thats a good score. The other two ladies are long time readers of Georgette Heyer, which I think gives them an edge on Regency-era slang. ;)

Carol Roddy

Nine out of Ten. I can't believe I missed "Displays to advantage."

Anne Gracie

Thanks Carol -- well done. I think the alternatives to that question were a little cunning. *g*

Fiona Marsden

I got ten out of ten but couldn't think of an alternative meaning for calf clingers that wasn't already spoken for.

Anne Gracie

Excellent score, Fiona. If you think up a definition of calf clingers later come back and pop it in.
Thanks for having a go.


I was 10 for 10. I've read Heyer since I was 14 (34 years now!!!), so I had an advantage. :)


7 out of 10... But I'm relatively new to Georgette Heyer! I thought it was a pretty respectable score. The ones I missed I had never seen before.


9 of 10 - missed done to a cow's thumb. Can't think of anything better for calf clinger than has been proposed.

Anne Gracie

Lori, thats an excellent result. It seems this quiz is bringing the Heyerites out. :)
Thanks for playing.

Anne Gracie

Thanks for joining in the fun, Donah -- you did very well.

Anne Gracie

Jana, thats great. Well done.
And I envy anyone who is relatively new to Georgette Heyer -- theres a lovely journey ahead of you.


10 for 10. But I too am a long time Georgette Heyer Reader...40 plus years.

Calf Clinger....a more polite term to call smilax or cat briar when it wraps around your leg and traps you. Versus the Dammit vine... Or whatever other bad word you want to mutter after it slashes its thorns across and through many layers of skin.


I too must read too much Heyer and everyone else-10 out of 10.

Calf clinger
a) a pesky fly
b) a spoiled child who clings to one's leg
c) a clocked stocking
d) manure kicked up when riding on city streets


Anne Gracie

Vicki, I love that definition. And yes, the Heyer readers seem to be acing this quiz.
Thanks for joining in the fun


I managed 8. Calf clinger - a polite term for dampened muslin, perhaps.

Anne Gracie

Shannon, Shannon, Shannon, there is No Such Thing as too much Heyer! *g*
I do like your definitions. I might enrol you for the next quiz. Thanks so much.

Anne Gracie

Well done, Marian. Good definitions, too. I am enjoying the wonderful range of definitions wenchly readers are coming up with. Thanks for joining in.


A sad thing, I'm one of those that has only scored 5/10. I have read several Georgette Heyer's novels, now I'm starting to wonder if I really understood them. Snif!
It's so sad that I can't even try a definition for 'calf-clingers'.

Anne Gracie

Bona, 5 out of 10 is still a good result, so well done you!
And thanks for joining in.


I missed done to a cow's thumb which I have always thought meant done up well-- well turned out , rather like dressed to the nines.I don't think I have ever interpreted it as to the point of exhaustion.
A different definition of ca;lf-clingers? Stockings that come already stuffed with sawdust to give spindely legs a shape.


Oops, I didn't do to well on the quiz, 4 out of 10.

I think a calf-clinger would be what you bring back home with you at the end of the day that tells where you have been, like a barnyard.

Mary M.

10/10 for this Regency fan–I go WAY back with Heyer and the trads! And in another life …

Calf-clingers: what today we'd call helicopter parents, always hovering over the delicate heir or debutante daughter.


8 out of 10, I missed done to a cow's thumb and caper merchant. Here's another definition for calf clingers: what we'd call a cougar today, a older woman who pursues younger men. But I prefer nancy's definition!


I missed "done to a cow's thumb" too (score of 9/10). I may go off to Google Books and do a search to read the phrase in context.

Fun quiz!


Calf clingers...neurotic or nervous mothers?

Anne Gracie

Thanks for having a go, Jackie -- and I do like your definition of calf-clinger.

Anne Gracie

Well done, Mary. Yes, the Heyer readers have the advantage in this one.
Ive never heard of helicopter parents, but I love the term, and yes, its a very plausible definition for calf-clingers.
Thanks for joining in.

Anne Gracie

A most respectable score, Karin, and I think a regency cougar might well be called a calf-clinger.
Not unrelated to calf-love, either. Thanks for participating.

Anne Gracie

Im trying to remember which of the Heyer books it appears in -- Im pretty sure its one of Heyers, but not exclusive to her.
Thanks for visiting.

Anne Gracie

Thats a good one, Nancy. Thanks.

Jo Banks

Another Heyer addict for more years than I am willing to admit - 10 out of 10.
Calf clingers - the nightmare doting mother in law to either sex but probably the dowager with the delicate son !

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Janice. I think we probably all have things on old books that we'd like to change, but you have to let it go, or they;d drive you mad.

Our regency world definitely is a created one, formed in layers from various books and writers -- and much beloved of readers, of which I'm one. The period itself is, as you say, full of fascination and contradiction, so much so that when people ask me do I find myself restricted by the period -- and it's a question I often get -- I always say not a bit.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Jo -- yes indeed, with a perfect score your Heyer addiction is showing. In fact, possibly this quiz was a Cunning Plan to reveal the Heyerites among us. *g*
And I do like the dowager with the delicate son. Thanks for dropping by.

A Voracious Reader

9/10 I was tripped up by the darn caper merchant. lol As far as calf-clingers, after rugrats came to mind and I saw someone else mentioned it, the next thing to pop into my head are the stirrups on an OBGYN table. lol

Barbara Kuterbach

I got 2 wrong--here is my definition for calf clingers--over possessive mothers,
Barb Kuterbach


I got 8/10. Need to brush up on Heyer apparently.

calf clingers: hunting dogs that follow one around one's country estate


I got 10 out of 10 as well. Also a Georgette Heyer reader from way back.

As for calf clingers? Oh yes I do like helicopter mother - clinging to her "little calf"

Anne Gracie

Well done! And I laughed at your stirrups. Thank you.

Anne Gracie

Well done Jenny -- yes the advantages of reading Heyer are now (I hope) quite apparent to all. *g*
And the helicopter mother is also quite popular. Thanks for joining in the fun

Anne Gracie

Well done, thats a very respectable score. And the dogs definition is an interesting variation β€” something quite different. Thank you,

Anne Gracie

Thats a good result, Barb -- and yes, the overpossessive mothers are featuring quite a lot here.
Thanks for trying the quiz and definition challenge.

Anne Gracie

Nancy, if you can find a different interpretation of done to a cow's thumb, I;'d be interested to see it -- thanks. And I do like your padding out the calves definition. I remember there was a mention of the practice in Powder and Patch (Heyer) but I don't think there was any term for it, but it's a plausible definition all right. Thanks for joining in.


Ten out of ten: i'm a long-time reader of Heyer and of Regency romances. The calf-clinger definitions already proposed are very good. What popped into my mind as I tried to come up with another definition for calf-clingers was a slim, not well-muscled gentleman whose calf-clingers had little need to cling, or the slender fops who padded their calves. Did their pantaloons droop at the bottom? Did the men with padded calves leave stretched-out fabric behind when the padding shifted? After more than 30 years of reading these books, how have I never wondered about these things before?

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Susannah, yes the Heyerites do seem to have the advantage here. Next quiz Ill have to do something quite different.
The padded calf thingy (technical term ;) has been suggested a few times, but as far as I can find -- and being at the conference, I havent had a lot of time toresearch it, but I havent come across any period term for it, so its a good suggestion.


I believe "done to a cow's thumb" comes from The Quiet Gentleman, if anyone still wants the source. *g*

And what, oh, what is the game being played in the illustration of the couple sitting back-to-back on the floor? I thought at first, musical chairs, but....

Anne Gracie

Thank you for that reference, Lucy. Saves me looking it up when I get home.
As to the activity in that illustration, it might be a kissing game, but I also wondered whether it might be that game where people have to pass an orange from person to person without using their hands. They hold it under their chin to start with, and pass it from one to another that way -- lots of fun and slightly risque, from all the body contract it generates. I dont know whether it was played at that time, but the pose reminded me of that game.


I'm catching up on my WW reading, and I don't know if you'll find this at this late date. I got 9/10, missing "done to a cow's thumb". I found this on the subject:


An 1811 dictionary defines it as "done exactly", and the above references Heyer using it in a different context. Hope this helps.

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