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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

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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)

    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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I don't mind the "sweatpants chic" look. It strikes me as more sensible than the notion that you need a special outfit for every kind of outdoor activity—biking shorts are different from jogging shorts, hiking boots are different from walking shoes, etc.
Once upon a time I was watching Spellbound with my children, and they were utterly amazed when Gregory Peck strapped the skis onto his regular shoes and went zipping down the slope in a business suit.

Mary Jo Putney

An interesting post, Andrea. I've always been into comfort, but casual does seem to have taken over American life. Maybe it's a generational thing, and the next gen kids will love the idea of 'dressing up' regularly. I'll sit here in my Lands End knits and watch what comes. *G*

Sue McCormick

I admit to having two pairs of gray sweat pants I wear in public. They are worn with my regular sweater t-shirt combination, which looks formal enough. I wear them because they are the ONLY casual wear gray pants I have; my one pair of gray slacks still being "best wear." But when I am not wearing gray, I wear slacks not sweat pants.


Truthfully, I've never enjoyed "dressing up" so I'm ok with the current trend. My job lets me wear jeans and t-shirts to work so that's my normal wear. I must admit that I have enjoyed the sweats/yoga pants on the days I work from home. I have worn them to the store, but never pajamas. I do draw the line there.

Pamela DG

I generally don't wear sweatpants in public unless I'm going to the gym, or if I'm "too sick to care" when going to the doctor or pharmacy. I've seen some cute sweats and am seriously considering getting them.

Andrea Penrose

Comfort is definitely sensible, Lil!But like anything, it can be taken to extremes. I'm glad we don't have to get "dolled up" every day. But I hope dress up doesn't go completely out of style.

Iremember that scene in Spellbound!

Andrea Penrose

You're probably right, Mary Jo. Three piece suits and slink cocktail dresses will be the next gen's normal. I'm happy sitting here in my writing room wearing . . .yes, sweatpants and a fleece sweater. But I'm looking forward to dressing up again as the world reopens.

Andrea Penrose

Sue, I am sure you look elegantly chic in your grey sweatpants!

I have a pair of black sweatpants that are tailored enough (open cuff, not elastic) that look pretty much like casual slacks, so that helps too.

Andrea Penrose

Ha, ha! Me, too, Misti.

I've always been a casual dresser too, Comfy jeans and t-shirts are my go-to outfits. But after a year of it non-stop, I'm actually looking forward to having an occasion that calls for a skirt or dress!

Andrea Penrose

Pamela, you're so right—designer are getting smart and making very cute and sophisticated looks in sweats. I hope they keep them coming!


I really miss those jacket and tie days. It just seemed like people took more pride in themselves. Now, you're lucky if a man takes his hat off in the very expensive restaurant, while he's eating dinner. No respect. And while I live in sweats at home, I put on nice jeans and a nice shirt when I go out. I'm old school I guess and just more comfortable that way. I admit, I'd love to live in clothing like your top picture though. Yes, I know how much of a pain those dresses could be, but oh how wonderful they must have made women feel.

An aside...have you ever seen the people of Walmart? It's a website. peopleofwalmart.com It will make you feel good about pretty much whatever you wear in public...

Christina Courtenay

I don't usually go out in public in sweatpants, but I've definitely been living in them here at home for the last year! And the problem is I've been eating too much during lockdown so now they're the only comfortable clothes I have ... Will need to do something about that or adopt the sweatpants chic! :-)

Mary T

During all the years that I worked (in an office) I always wore dresses and heels. My knees and hips are paying the price for all those years of high heels, but I loved them at the time.

I have long since come to terms with today's casual looks. I am okay with them most of the time. I still shake my head that people pay good money for jeans that have holes in them, but I'm a pretty "live and let live" kind of gal.

Looking at the pictures provided with this post, I can't help but wonder how those folks played summer sports in all those clothes without passing out.

Andrea Penrose

Oh, men wearing baseball hat indoors drives me crazy! I do like getting dressed up for certain occasions, and it would be sad if we lost that sense of style.

Andrea Penrose

Oh ha! Some people say the invention of the elastic waistband was NOT a ggod thing. But it's soooo comfortable.
I've been living in sweatpants, too . . .and I've been telling myself that it's my dryer that's suddenly shrinking my jeans!

Andrea Penrose

Totally agree on the holes, Mary. (In fact I can't believe the prices some people pay for "designer" jeans.)

In those vintage tennis clothes, one must have spent most of the afternoon sitting around sipping lemonade.

Teresa Broderick

I'm definitely a comfort girl. When I was younger I always dressed up going out. Wouldn't be seen dead in anything casual or be without my make up on. Now, I couldn't say when I last wore make up and once I'm comfortable and tidy I'm fine with that going out. Not that I went out much even before the Covid. I'll probably go mad when I've had my vaccinations :):)


I've rarely been one for dressy clothes (or make-up...and there's another topic); however, today's pants do happen to have a zipper and button (admittedly the waistband does have some elastic in parts).

Thanks for the post, Andrea, and the wonderful vintage photos!

Mary M.

I met a friend at Starbucks recently, after we'd both been vaxxed, and realized it was the first time I'd had eyebrows in over a year. (Still no lipstick behind the mask, though.)

As for pants, I'm having trouble finding good looking, stretch fabric, elastic waist slacks these days, so it'll be interesting to see which drops first: me, my cat, or my pants—we're all pretty old!


It seems that Einstein hated socks:

Even on the most solemn occasions I got away without wearing socks and hid that lack of civilization in high boots
Albert Einstein

I have been spending a lot of time in the garden and tend not to change clothes to visit shops. Social distancing hides the dirt on my trouser legs so no need for high boots! 😊


Your article is interesting. I just read about the first woman to run a marathon and I was taken by her outfit. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/sports/arlene-pieper-stine-dead.html

Andrea Penrose

Me, too, Teresa! And LOL on make-up. I've forgotten how to put on lipstick. (Not that I ever did much of that.)

I do think that when things open up, we'll see a LOT of people dress up to go out to dinner or some entertainment, just for the sheer joy of change!

Andrea Penrose

I'm impressed with the zipper pants, Kareni. I'm going to my first in-person book club meeting in over a year (we are all fully vaccinated and will be sitting on an outdoor porch) and I will actually put on a pair of REAL pants for the occassion!

And yes, let's not even start on make-up!

Andrea Penrose

Ha,ha,ha, Mary! It's going to be REALLY hard to go back to old-fashioned pants. I think clothing people realize that. I see a lot more tailored-looking pants with elastic waistbands coming out.

Andrea Penrose

Quantum, that's really interesting that Einstein hated socks. (I have a friend—who is also very smart—who hates socks, too.) I hate cold feet so I'm definitely a sock person.

Ha, ha on the garden dirt. Social distancing hides a multitude of little flaws!

Andrea Penrose

Oh, thanks for sharing, Lyn!


Andrea - thanks so much for this post, and especially for the photos! I am not a fan of sweatpants because I "run hot" as my grandmother used to say, and I find them much too warm. That said, I am all for elastic waistbands! For most of the last year, the organization I run has continued to hold programs and events, switching overnight (literally!) from in-person to virtual. While I'm not wearing suit jackets, I am, from the waist up, made up and dressed up almost every week day. But down below, it's comfy trousers and bare feet! The idea of ever wearing heels again is anathema to me!

Most athletic clothing today looks extremely uncomfortable to me. Serena Williams's unitards and other tennis outfits make me sweat to see them, but so did the outfits on the women in the photos you shared....

Annette N

First, let me thank you for this post. Since I am older than dirt - I remember girdles - I still try to have some standards when I go anywhere. But, I have learned to leave my bustles at home.

Not a fan of people in pajamas out in the world...but...I do see the appeal.

I have sweat pants, but only wear them around the house. And they are only fit for the dog to see me in them.

One of the most terrific things I have found recently, tee shirts made out of recycled materials. I think anytime we reuse materials and prevent them from the land fill we are ahead of the game.

I wonder if men know how appealing they appear in a suit and tie? Or if women realize how lovely they look in a flattering dress?

Back in the day, I wore heels and dresses to work every day for years. I knew the way I dressed made me look better. But, today I could not possibly wear heels and some of the dresses in my closet are gathering dust.

Time changes all things.

I hope that everyone is safe and well and happy.


I draw the line on appearing in public in sweats with elastic cuffs. If they look more like normal pants I might make a quick run to the post office but that's about it. I also cannot get used to the fashion for leggings, which I cannot distinguish from tights or long underwear, I would feel half naked going out in them. I make an exception for some corduroy leggings I have which look more like regular pants, worn with a long tunic or sweater.
There have been times this past year when I spent the entire day in my pjs, but the furthest I've gone in them is the back yard or the mailbox!


Enjoy your in person book club meeting, Andrea!

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