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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

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  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

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    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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« Quiz — English Names | Main | Bucket List Travels »


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Mary M.

I don't have to go back years for this one, it's from a book club meeting just last night. We all agreed that Cannery Row (Steinbeck) was 5/5 and the hound, Darling, was our favorite female character—among other things, she cleverly potty trained herself while Mac and the Boys were still marveling at the puddles she'd been making on the floor. The whole book is about resilience, and Darling has it in spades. Personally, though, I'm a cat person and my favorite series is Midnight Louis by Carol Nelson Douglas. Guess I like smarts in my fictional animals as much as the human characters (and real people, too).

Mary T

I love stories that involve animals. Many HR writers lovingly describe horses in their stories. It's not hard to see why. I have never owned a horse, but they are such beautiful animals.

Emily March, a contemporary romance writer that I like, has dogs in every story I've read by her. And they usually have very strong personalities.

But my all time favorite when it comes to writing stories with animals is Barbara Metzger. Not always just cats and dogs either. One of her Christmas novellas involves a bunch of church mice who are trying to lead their impoverished minister to a treasure that is hidden in the church so that they all can survive.

In Ms. Metzger's A LOYAL COMPANION, the companion (Fitz the dog) does a bit of narration at the beginning and ending of each chapter that is hilarious as well as insightful. At the ending of one chapter the heroine decides that rather than be married to the highest bidder, she will marry the next "really nice man" she meets. She then goes on to describe her ideal to Fitz. She ends her litany with "He should have a nice smile...and smell good."

So he drags in the butcher's delivery boy. He only wants the best for her. It's a funny book.

Faith Freewoman

My favorite is the smart, rascally dog and his smart, rascally adolescent master in Georgette Heyer's The Reluctant Widow.

And for some reason the Beatrix Potter character who first pops into my mind is the very silly Jemima Puddleduck.

Millie-dog sounds a lot like our Mr. Pogo, the Spaniel/Australian Shepherd family dog. I think he aspires to be a Mandy, though. Hey, protecting "his wimmin" from squirrels is a good way to start, right?


One of my early reading memories is of my young uncle, a teenager at the time, reading Lad: A Dog and Further Adventures of Lad to me and both of us sobbing when Lad died. I tried rereading the books later and thought them poorly written, but the pathos was stronger than my critical judgment at five.

I still read Winnie the Pooh. I love Eeyore and Piglet, and, of course, Pooh, and I'm glad that some of the grands are still young enough to share Olivia the Pig books and The Wolf Who Cried Boy with me. I read several romance authors--Barbara Metzger, Laura Kinsale, Jennifer Crusie, Kristan Higgins--with the expectation of falling in love with an animal character with each book. And I have a particular fondness for Lufra, the Baluchistan hound in Heyer's Frederica, Knox, the parrot in Jo Beverley's Forbidden Magic, and Foolish, the dog in Nora Roberts's Quinn Brothers books. My newest favorite is Sweetpea, the skunk in Eloisa James's Wilde in Love. Then there are the animals from some favorite cozy mysteries. I read Miranda James's Cat in the Stacks books as much for Diesel the cat as for Charlie the librarian, and the cat Tabitha Twitchett and Rascal, the Jack Russell terrier, are more important than Miss Potter in Susan Wittig Albert's Cottage Tales.


Well, drats ~ no favorite literary animal is coming to mind at this moment ... maybe later! I enjoyed reading about all of your favorites, so thanks for the column.

Binnie Syril Braunstein

I have so many favorites - but here goes: I love "Fred" in Jennifer Crusie's Anyone but You.I loved the book so much that I've bought 14 copies of it, and given 13 away to friends who needed a good laugh.I thought the hedgehog in one of Mary Jo's novellas was adorable. Grace Burrowes does a great job with critters, even horses. Kristan Higgins has a dog in every book - except for the one that has a cat. And speaking of cats - I've always loved Paul Gallico's The Abandoned, in which a boy gets hit on the noggin and wakes up as a cat. The other cats advise him: When in doubt - wash. And my current favorite is the ugly dog with the satin ribbon for a leash in Anne Gracie's The Spring Bride. Keep those critters coming! Great column!

Sue McCormick

I absolutely agree with all the the above mentioned pets that I have read about (I don't know some of them). Repeating the list would be boring.

Elsie Lee has a cat in Curse of Carranca named Sebastian. That cat became a favorite of mine and of both of my daughters (we were living with a real live cat at the time and were equally found of Sebastian).

And that brings me to the household pets. Several of us are allergic to dog dander but are OK with cats (a reversal of the norm). I remember with great fondness every cat we had from the one I brought home from high school to our most recent one and also all of the cats my daughter had ( one of her early ones was named Sabastio in honor of Sebastian).

Teresa Broderick

I too loved Timmy the dog in the Famous Five. I grew up with those books. They ARE my childhood. I also read Black Beauty and cried every night for a week afterwards. I never read it again and even now wouldn't attempt it. I love animals. We have a very stubborn Irish Wolfhound who only does what he likes, a fat lovable Labrador Cross and a cat who rules the roost. What's a home without an animal. I've never been without a pet.

jeanette dilts

I love animals of all kinds in the books I read, but all time favorites are the empowered dust bunnies in Jayne Castle's (aka Jane Ann Krentz) Ghost Hunter books esp. Elvis. "Elvis has left the building" will be forever in my head. I may relate because the of dust bunnies that frequently live beneath my bed and dining room table. Three Salukis shed a puppy's worth of fine hair in a week's time.

Kathy K

I always enjoy reading about animals and how they worm their way into human families and affections. No one has mentioned "The Cat who..." series which is very enjoyable. I also liked "Merle's Door" by Ted Kerasote as an exploration of the adjustments animals and people make to one another.


Hi Janga, I am very familiar with Lad, A Dog, and most of Albert Payson Terhune's other books. He lived very near to where I grew up, is buried in a local churchyard, and when I was young our telephone exchange was named after him (Terhune-5)!
I've never tried to reread the books as an adult. But I think it was Lad and the Lassie show on TV that really made collies so popular as pets for so long.


I do like the cat that Eve and Roark have in Nora Robb's "In Death" series, but his name escapes me!


His name is Galahad and I do like him.

I also like Harry, the hairless Chinese Crested dog, who dances disco. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the book or the author and I've only read it about half a dozen times!:(

I'm looking forward to Sweetpea the skunk in 'Wilde in Love', which is in my TBR. I usually like any cat, dog or horse that appears in a book. I like any of animals that appear in Georgette Heyer books, love the dust bunnies, and I like both Midas and Tricks from two different Linda Howard books.

I read Black Beauty once but never again and Disney traumatized me with the movie, Old Yeller.

The 'My Friend Flicka' trilogy (horses) provided me with my daughter's name (in the third book 'Green Grass of Wyoming').

Joanne Bourne

I'm going to have to admit I haven't yet read Cannery Row. I will move it to the top of the list if it has such a splendid dog in it.

Joanne Bourne

That is so funny. The butcher's boy ...

Joanne Bourne

I had a cat when I was in Germany.

We'd moved there from desert country. The cat went out into the garden the first day and spotted a squirrel, Never seen one, of course.

She took off after it.

The squirrel stood her ground. Raised her head. And ... chittered.

The cat skidded to a stop and slooowly backed away.

Anne Gracie

Oh, Faith yes -- Bouncer, isn't it, who keeps the heroine stuck in her chair for hours? And then there's Lufra, in Frederica — the Baluchistan Hound. Heyer did some lovely dogs.

Millie-dog also protects me from possums -- Australian possums are smaller and sweeter than the ones you have in the US. Millie doesn't care though.

Anne Gracie

Thanks for loving my ugly dog, Binnie. I think ugly dogs often have the sweetest natures. And I'd forgotten all about that Paul Gallico story -- but "When in doubt - wash." reminded me.

Mary Jo's comment also reminded me of the cats in Kerry Greenwood's Corinna books — they were scattered between apartments and each one had a very distinct personality.

Anne Gracie

Me too, Teresa — I devoured every Enid Blyton I could find, but the Famous Five, and the "Adventure" books and the Five Find-outers and dog -- were they the Mystery of series? — were my faves. I was also envious of children who could take their dogs wherever they went. I took our dog Prince everywhere, too, but people wouldn't let him inside!

Anne Gracie

I wish those Jayne Castle books would become available in kindle, Jeanette. I'd really like to read them, but my house is drowning in books, and kindle is my only option at the moment.

And I hear you on shedding. I have a black dog and a beige carpet -- yes, madness, I know.

Joanne Bourne

There is something about dog books. They keep being "Oh dear, the dog has died" books.

I suppose this is supposed to teach kids about Real Life, since kids live in an enclosed bubble of Happy Times and know nothing about Bad Stuff and they must be told.

I prefer the Velveteen Rabbit meself.

Joanne Bourne

I am wowed by how many there are ...

(Interestingly, we never learn the name of the Velveteen Rabbit. The Fictional Character Protection League should get after them for erasing its rabbithood._

Joanne Bourne

Animals do all sorts of useful things in fiction. I feel like most books should have a few.

Joanne Bourne

My sister always had cats. Her husband was a long-haul trucker and he'd be approached by strays at truck stops and delivery depots.

Somehow, no matter how dilapidated they were, they always trusted him and my sister always took 'em in and managed to heal their hurt bodies and searching souls.

Joanne Bourne

For some reason I'm reminded now of Dresden (Jim Butcher's consulting wizard) and his huge, fierce Tibetan Temple dog ... Mouse.

Joanne Bourne

Galahad ... he is so snarky. VERY catlike

Joanne Bourne

I liked Black Beauty when I read it, which was ... I dunnoh 10 or 12. I don't think I could manage to read it now.

Mary M.

Anne, I looked on Amazon for the first Ghost Hunter book, After Dark, and didn't find it. But my local digital library has it--in Kindle format! Of course, I put it on hold, how could I resist a book with dust bunny characters (being, as I am, on intimate terms with so many of the cat-fur variety).

Linda S.

Let's not forget the "Baluchistan" hound in Heyer's Fredericka. He moves the plot along nicely besides providing comic relief.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Mary -- I'm trying to track it down, too.

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