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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


« London Bobbies | Main | Chick-in-Pants (part 2) »


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Kathy Lynn Emerson

Raising hand as having visited Hampton Court. I was lucky enough to be there for a costumed performance of Tudor dances, too. I managed to walk about five feet into the maze before chickening out and retracing my steps. Good thing my characters are braver than I am! I don't think I've read any novels set in the reign of William and Mary, but A Pledge of Better Times just went on my to read list. Margaret--so glad to hear you have a new book out.

Kathy (aka Kate) Emerson

Mary Jo Putney

I've also visited Hampton Court a couple of times, and fell in love with the maze. Not coincidentally, mazes have figured in a couple of my books. *G*

Margaret, thanks so much for visiting us today! I've been listening to interesting tidbits about this book from you for years, and finally I have a chance to read it. It's a fascinating period of history, and I know you'll bring it to vivid life.

margaret porter

Kathy, I've been there during Tudor events as well! The chaps working in the kitchens are a delight to observe.
My husband isn't keen about entering the maze with me...but I never mind getting lost in it.

margaret porter

Mary Jo, mazes and labyrinths fascinate me. I have a secret desire to design one, but I don't think I'm clever enough to do it successfully! It's a pleasure to join the Wenches again--I believe this is my 5th (?) time.


I love labyrinths, but mazes not so much. Labyrinths are soothing, but mazes make me anxious.

margaret porter

I like the puzzle of mazes...until I end up hopelessly puzzled by them. There is a trick to working one's way through them without any difficulty, but I never do remember it before entering!

Mary M.

King Henry VIII's kitchen was the highlight of Hampton Court for me. Costumed volunteers brought Tudor times to life, cooking over braziers and in the huuuge fireplace, showing us the spices used in that era (to preserve the fresh and deodorize the not-so-fresh), explaining table settings, etc. Amazing to think of the history in that palace, but a little hard to "feel it" with all the tourists milling around. Still, an experience not to be missed.


I've not been lucky enough to visit, but would love to! I do appreciate when historical novels actually include real people and events. Of course, unless it is an alternate universe or complete farce, I don't like when the real historical figures act totally out of character.

margaret porter

Mary, I agree, the Tudor kitchens are indeed a highlight of any visit to Hampton Court! The cooks and food historians are as entertaining as they are knowledgeable.

margaret porter

Glenda, most author of historical fiction--every genre of it--strive to create characters true to their times, real or fictional. In a way it's easiest, dealing with known figures about whom much has been written, or left behind a legacy of their own writings. But opinions of those historical figures can alter over time. The author must therefore determine his or her own vision of that character to serve the story. But carefully--or else the very knowledgeable reader will have a problem with the portrayal!


I've never been to Hampton Court, alas. I actually think writing about true historical figures in historical fiction grounds the book; the links to facts often drive me to go read more about the real people. My closest link to William and Mary was watching a public television depiction of them from years ago! And no, I would have had no desire to live at court. I think the constant intrigue would have been draining....

margaret porter

ML, thanks for commenting. I gained a lot of sympathy for those whose fates were directly tied to obtaining--and keeping--the good favour of the monarch. Serving in a royal court was not for sissies!

Laura Watkins

So unsettling to walk in from the 21s century to the rooms and walks actual historical people knew.
Like a time machine.

Jo Beverley

That's so true, Margaret. I often come across mentions of how hard and tricky it was.


I so enjoy visting historical places as you really get a sense of size, though without the huge pannier skirts of the ladies of the court there was probably much less room. I love stories based on real events and persons. They remind me that history is STORY and should be taught that way rather than the dry stuff one finds in many texts and classrooms.


As I think about accuracy in historical novels, it is more a true sense of feel rather than totally accurate dialogue and behavior. Yet I find myself more accepting of time travel than I do of someone serving a potato in 1300s England.

Anne Gracie

Lyn, I so agree. I'm sure I learned more from reading historical novels as a child than I ever did in history classes at school. A few teachers had the gift of making the past sing for us, but most didn't.


Unfortunately I have never visited Hampton Court or any of the other British palaces, but I have been to some of the more famous ones on the Continent, like Versailles, and Schonbrunn in Vienna.
This book sounds fascinating, because I know almost nothing about James II's reign. I do like when real characters are incorporated into historic fiction.

margaret porter

It can be unsettling, Laura. It's always so odd when I'm there before Christmas and see the ice-skating rink set up on the grounds at the entrance to Hampton Court. It seems incongruous, until I remind myself that the uncrowned King Charles II and his courtiers-in-exile often entertained themselves with skating on the frozen Dutch canals!

margaret porter

Lyn, that is such a good point--history is story. If it's taught only with dates and timelines it can be very dull indeed. But when it includes personalities and their motivations and their conflicts with one another, it is fascinating!
And as historical novelists, we always must remember we are writing to entertain, primarily.

margaret porter

It's a balancing act, providing sense of time and place, yet at the same time writing for a modern readership. Completely accurate 17th century dialogue would be mystifying to the average 21st century person...but it's possible to give the flavour of the vernacular without overdoing it!

margaret porter

There are a couple of scenes at Versailles, Karin, which is an amazing place. I've been to Vienna but hadn't time to see Schonbrunn. I plan to return, because it will figure in a future novel! I am prepared to be overwhelmed by the grandeur!


Thank you, Margaret, for a very interesting blog.

The randomly picked winner is LynS. Congratulations, Lyn. Margaret will be in touch with you.


Thank you so much, Margaret.

The winner of a copy of A Pledge of Better Times is LynS.

Congratulations, Lyn.

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