Mary Jo Putney interviews Anne Gracie

Mary Jo here. I had the great good fortune to get an early read of our Wench Anne Gracie’s upcoming release of THE HEIRESS’S DAUGHTER, which will be released May 21st.  It’s third in her Brides of Bellaire Gardens series.
MJP: Anne, your set-up for this series is unusual since many readers probably aren’t familiar with the private gardens that are sometimes created within blocks of London houses.  The space is shared by residents so they must interact together.  Do you have any idea where this lovely idea came from?

Anne: I saw some of these gardens on line and I instantly wanted to set a series in one. At the time (some years ago) I was thinking that I might set a mystery series there, where some of the residents might notice a few odd things and eventually put their observations (and heads) together and solve the mystery, but that never eventuated and I set a romance series there instead. It’s ideal for having people interact in a different setting.
Interestingly, after the first book came out, Wench Christina told me she’d lived in a house backing onto a garden like this.

MJP:  The Heiress’s Daughter has a number of continuing characters who share that space.  This story’s heroine, Clarissa, was there from book #2, The Rake’s Daughter.  Can you tell us something about her?

Anne: Clarissa and her illegitimate half-sister Izzy arrived at Bellaire Gardens in book #2. Clarissa is the daughter of a heartless rake and an heiress. Having watched her father break her mother’s heart over and over again, she’s extremely wary of being married for her money, and especially of marrying a rake. Like her mother, she’s not particularly pretty and is shy and a little plump and not very confident. You can see why in the prologue.
But she’s a loyal and loving person, and readers really warmed to her in the previous book. After the previous book, I got a flurry of emails asking when Clarissa’s story would come out.

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Ask-A-Wench — Movies and TV

Anne here, and today we’re responding to the question: “What have the wenches been watching lately?”

Andrea said: I have been binging through ‘Lewis,’ a wonderful British police procedural spin-off of “Morse.” (Lewis was his sidekick.) It’s based in Oxford, with the mysteries always involving members of the university, so the plots are often cleverly erudite and tie into some arcane academic element. I find the ambiance, the scenery and the twists a lot of fun. I also really enjoy the chemistry between Lewis and his sidekick, Hathaway, who is a bit of an odd duck, (apparently both on and off the screen.) Hathaway is pretty tightly wound and adds an interesting edginess to the series. It ran for nine seasons . . .and I’m getting sad that I’m working my way closer to “THE END.”

Given the the political and cultural turmoil in this country right now, I also was moved to re-watch the amazing Ken Burns PBS documentary series on The Civil War. It is extraordinarily well-done, using letters and vintage pictures to tell the poignant story of the conflict. it really brings home the horrendous suffering and death on both sides caused by passions that sparked into hatred and extremism. It’s incredibly sobering and a chilling reminder of the awful consequences of violence.

Christina here. I’ve been in the mood for some very light entertainment and I found the perfect thing on Swedish TV when visiting my mother  – Hudson & Rex. It’s a Canadian crime series/police procedural drama set in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which is an unusual and very beautiful setting. Detective Charlie Hudson solves murders and other crimes with the help of his canine sidekick Rex, a very clever Alsatian/German Shepherd.

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Labyrinths

Anne here, and today I’m not going to talk about my upcoming book (for a change) but about labyrinths, because tomorrow (4th May) is World Labyrinth Day.

Quite a few people use the words ‘maze’ and ‘labyrinth’ interchangeably, but they’re not the same at all. I also thought they were the same thing with different labels until many years ago I read Mary Jo’s The Spiral Path, which made the difference quite clear, and since then I have become fascinated with labyrinths.

The difference between a maze and a labyrinth.

A maze contains many different pathways toward the centre, dozens of which have dead ends. A maze is designed to be confusing and difficult, and if you’re persistent (or know the design) you will be able to reach the middle.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, has only one pathway — you can’t go wrong. You start at the beginning and follow the path, which although it may double back and have you going around in circles will inevitably lead you to the centre.

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AAW: Out My Window

Pat Rice here: Today, we’re going to play a little game called Looking Out My Window. The idea originally came from https://www.window-swap.com/Window at the start of Covid. Anne Gracie blogged about it.

We’ll turn the idea about a bit. Each of us has written a short piece about what we see from the window of our writing space—but I won’t name who wrote the piece. Instead, I have labeled them A, B, C, etc. Let’s have a little fun guessing who wrote which piece, and it would be lovely if you add what you see out your window!

A.

garden and wallThis is a bit tough. I can’t actually see out my office window unless I stand up. I can see the flash of raven shadows as they stop by for a drink from our birdbath. Locating my desk this way is deliberate. I’d never get anything done elsewise. But here’s what I see if I stand and look out. We’re going on vacation shortly, and our daughter is leaving at the same time, and consequently, we have no one to hand water the potted plants. So this is not the usual view. Most of the pretty plants have been moved to a corner where they’re not visible from this angle. We’ve set up a sprinkler to rain on that corner. The hardy geranium is the main pot you see, and the irrigation system should take care of it. There is no tomato in the tomato cage yet, but that’s a small corner of my husband’s vegetable garden. The orange tree is covered with oranges, although they’re hard to see from here. We’ve grown that immense staghorn fern on the fence since it was a little fella. Had to divide it at one point because it got too heavy. The clivia is getting way too much sun now that the carrotwood tree has been trimmed. I can’t see the blooms on the camellia, but I know they’re there. I’ll have to hope that back corner survives while we’re gone!

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