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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


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Teresa Broderick

This sounds like absolute Heaven Nicola!!! You are so lucky to be able to visit these places. I was in Scotland many years ago and would love to go back again.

Mary T

First off - thank you for the interesting tour. I am quite envious. I also always liked to find some interesting place to stop during a road trip. It made the journey so much more interesting.

As for libraries - I have always loved them. When I was a kid, I would visit the school library during the winter months, but in the summer my friends and I would walk the 10 or 12 blocks to the local library. Kids had more freedom back then. We would have as much fun on the journey as we did in the library itself. Always stopped for an ice cold Coke on the way home.

The first thing that I did when I retired was renew my library card. It's where I first met many of you ladies. My days of touring libraries are over. I do know that I'm fortunate to live in a time when I can go to the library on-line. But it is just not the same as walking up and down the aisles choosing books at random to check out.

Nicola Cornick

I had no idea it was there, Teresa, and was so happy to come across it! Such a wonderful place. I hope you get the chance to re-visit Scotland just as I hope tore-visit Ireland one day!

Nicola Cornick

Hi Mary! It's lovely that your childhood memories are all tangled up in the trip to the library all the stuff you and your friends did on the way! I understand what you mean about online libraries - it is great to be able to access so much stuff this way and to be part of a community like the Wenches but there is something special about visiting a real library and holding a book in your hand!


What an enjoyable post, Nicola! I'm another longtime library lover, and my husband and I routinely stop in at libraries when we're traveling.

Mary Jo Putney

What an amazing place, Nicola! And I love the way you described touching books that had been held by historical figures you know of, and who are even connected to your family! Beyond words.

Sue McCormick

I adored this virtual tour.

I have loved libraries all my life. I'm pretty sure I never met a library i didn't love. But I don't remember much by the way of specific visits. Not even the central branch of the New York City library nor the Library of Congress have left much in the way of special memories.

I'm pretty sure I would have felt as you did in that library.

Family story: The St. Louis Library System was building a new branch library near-by. In the meantime they opened a storefront block at the foot of our street. Our family has always owned lots of books, and in that house they lived in shelving in our basement level (which I called "stacks." So my children eagerly visited the store-front library — a library they could walk to, any time they wanted. At first they were dreadfully disappointed. "We have more books at home!" I had to point out that none of our books were on loan, while those stored at this branch library were mostly out on loan. They would need to visit often to find their new book, but indeed, this library would share many new-to-them volumes.

Nicola Cornick

What a lovely thing to do, Kareni. It hadn't occurred to me before to include libraries on my travelling list and now I'm wondering why on earth not!

Nicola Cornick

Thank you, Mary Jo. Yes, my m-i-l was so excited her eyes were shining and she said it gave her the happy shivers! I think that she and her sister really connected with the family history - they'd been so excited to see it on paper but this was another thing entirely.

Nicola Cornick

I love that you called your basement shelving "stacks", Sue. I am going to do the same with mine! That's so funny that your children pointed out your "library" was bigger than the local one!

Mary M.

Like Mary T, I'm envious at this moment, Nicola. What a lovely treat, especially the personal aspects of your visit. I would find it frustrating, though, to have only a brief visit at such a treasure.

Also like Mary T, I have many fond memories of my childhood access to books, in my case at the local Carnegie-endowed library. (It even had 'Carnegie Public Library' carved into the stone above the entrance. Great clue, though I didn't understand its significance at the time. Don't know about Carnegie and his libraries? Worth Googling!)

How fortunate we were to have this marvelous haven where I whiled away so many childhood afternoons. Life today moves too quickly for handwritten checkout and browsing of card catalogs, and I adore my area-wide digital library, but we've lost that personal, visceral experience you found in Innerpeffray. (Wonderful name, BTW, is there an Outerpeffray, I wonder?)

And like you, Nicola, I love to find the quirky, offbeat experiences when I travel. Even if I'm on a tour, I always locate something interesting to do in case there's downtime. Never found such a sweet one as this, though. Thanks for sharing!

Maryellen Webber

What a wonderful post! I love libraries too. How amazing that must felt holding that pocket Bible. It is amazing that this library still exists!! Thanks for sharing this!!

Donna H.

Mary M. I live in a small town and we have a Carnegie Library here as well. I have been to quite a few and they all seem to be on a hill - to be more prominent maybe? - and to have imposing columns in front. When we moved here forty years ago I made a point of going to the library and signing up. Did not feel that i belonged to the town until I did. Then I had the absolute pleasure of working there for over 17 years. Just wonderful. We always seek out the library when we travel and go to a new town. There are no two alike and they are all marvellous!

Patricia Franzino

The New York Society Library is on the Upper East Side of NYC. I participated in a tour of this historic library founded in 1754. It's the first library open to the public.

Herman Melville used the space as well as other writers over the centuries.

There is an entire floor for writers to work. There is another area of children's books.

It's a great resource of books that cannot be found in other libraries. The history is astounding. It's wonderful to walk in to such a place.


I spent a lot of time in the library when I was a child. My favourite library is the Lit & Phil in Newcastle which dates back to 1825 when it was opened to house the Society founded 1793

Annette N

Thanks for this tour.

I started going to a bookmobile when I was a child. I moved on to larger libraries when I moved around. I was blessed to work in a brand new big city library for a time. It was heaven. Then, I was the entire staff when our small town was starting a library. We got donated books, and I cataloged and shelved and got us certified by the state. I moved away, and shortly after that the small town built a beautiful library.

I have loved books and libraries for as long as I can remember.

Alice Mathewson

Hi Nicola. I have spent a lot of time in Scotland and never heard of this library. But the next time we go, it will the top of the list of places to visit. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Libraries are my favourite buildings - if I didn't have access to one, I would be broke from having to buy books, there would be no room in my house because I find it difficult to give books away and I would be VERY grumpy! The librarian in my local town says I am her best customer and that is a title I am very happy to hold.

Denise Morris

What a treat! I also visit libraries on my travels, always a friendly face to greet you. For several years I worked at the England Library at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. I did interlibrary loans, but really loved the Rare Book Room. There were wonderful treasures there and I particularly enjoyed the colonial era botanicals, exquisitely hand colored illustrations of plants used in early pharmacy studies.

Nicola Cornick

You describe it so well, Mary. That experience of browsing amongst the stacks, checking the card catalogues, and the smell of the paper and the sounds of pages turning (and shushing!)

I can't find an Outerpeffray!

Nicola Cornick

Thank you, Maryellen! Yes, it felt remarkable that the library had been established there in the first place and that it still survives!

Nicola Cornick

The Carnegie Library is such a special thing - and I love that they are all over the world. There is one about 20 miles from here. Very generous indeed!

Nicola Cornick

Wow! I would love to visit, Patricia. I find libraries like that so awe-inspiring.

Nicola Cornick

Co-incidentally I'd seen the Lit & Phil on the TV recently, Joanna, and thought it looked amazing. Next time I'm in Newcastle I'm definitely going to visit!

Nicola Cornick

That is a wonderful "life in books," Annette and I love that the libraries you've been associated with have taken so many different forms.

Nicola Cornick

Haha! Yes, giving books away makes me very grumpy too, Alice, and the library is a blessing in so many ways. I'm glad to have been able to introduce you to Innerpeffray and hope you enjoy visiting in the future!

Nicola Cornick

Just the name "rare books room" sends a tingle down the spine, doesn't it, Denise! The illustrated books and maps are extraordinary.

Elf Ahearn

The tiny Hotchkiss Library in Sharon, Ct. has the most charming layout: the shelves are all L-cornered, creating nooks and crannies through out, but especially in the balcony, which runs three-quarters of the way around the main floor. Everything is dark wood and stained glass. I've always imagined that the characters from Dickens, Austin, Thackery, and Walter Scott, etc., would whisper from the pages late at night, emboldened by the library's familiar atmosphere.
The Norfolk Library in Ct., was, I believe, designed by the same architect and has a similar ambiance, but it's the quiet in Sharon's library that lends itself to its secretive inhabitants. Love that little place.
And Nicola, what an extraordinary experience to be able to touch those ancient pages without gloves. Did you feel them welcome you?

Nicola Cornick

That sounds wonderful, Elf! I love the idea that you are stepping into some sort of historical story when you visit the Hotchkiss Library. You conjure up such an intimate description of the place.

Yes, it was a very curious experience to be able to touch such old books. I'm not sure that they felt welcoming but I did get a great sense of the arc of time when I touched them.

Gail Radford-Ross

What a wonderful find, Nicola, and thank you for sharing it! I was born in Scotland and if I ever get back there again, that library will be one of my first stops.

I, too, have always loved libraries. When I was very young, we lived in a small village about 120 miles northwest of Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba's capital city, in Canada. Staff at a library in Winnipeg chose age-pertinent books and mailed them to me about once a week. Usually I had read all the books within a day or so.

Over the years I lived in five Canadian provinces and almost the first thing I did in every town and city was to join the library.

Later in life I became a researcher and writer, investigating government agencies, private and public organizations, and working for private individuals and families, 'helping people to obtain justice'. Amongst others, two of the libraries that I used constantly were the Legislature Library in Edmonton, Alberta and an oil and gas library in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Legislature libraries are fascinating places and true history, both present and past! And as book lovers already know, librarians always have prodigious amounts of information which they happily provide to anyone interested.

Elf Ahearn

Old books can be temperamental--don't take it personally, Nicola. ;-)

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