Exploring The Real Wolfhall

Nicola and the wolfNicola here, talking about a recent visit to a place steeped in history. “At the edge of Wiltshire’s ancient Savernake forest lies a house steeped in Royal history.  Shrouded in mystery and lost to the mists of time, Wolfhall stands, a testimony to the rise and fall of the Seymour family, so crucial to the heart of the Tudor monarchy and the history of England itself…” So reads the enticing introduction on The Real Wolfhall website, drawing in all of us who have a fascination with Tudor history.

Long before Hilary Mantel made the name “Wolf Hall” famous all over again in her Booker prize winning novel, many readers like myself had lapped up stories of the Seymour family in the writing of authors such as Jean Plaidy and any number of books about the wives of Henry VIII. Wolfhall is an iconic name that has been in my imagination for as long as I’ve been reading historical fiction and romance. When I wrote The Phantom Tree, about Mary Seymour, the daughter of Thomas Seymour and Catherine Parr, it felt appropriate to set part of it at Wolfhall and draw on that rich history.

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What We’re Reading in August

Joanna here with a look at What the Wenches are Reading this recent little time here.

Me — I’ve gotWenches for the king a couple of books toI recommend.  First off is the non-fiction Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners by Josephine Ross.  While it’s one of many books that look at Regency customs and manners through the lens of Jane Austen’s works, this one is particularly readable and correct.  

Second book up for a recomment is Catherine DeLors’ For the King. Historical Fiction, here, rather than Historical Romance. It’s an atmospheric novel set in 1800 based upon an attempt on Napoleon’s life. Fun even for those not fascinated by the period.

And, finally, a bit of an outlier.  I’m reading a new-to-me paranormal author, Wenches midnight riotBen Aaronovitch. (You will probably find him in the upper left hand corner of the bookshop shelves.)  The work is titled Midnight Riot which seems to have nothing to do with the plot at all.  This is a police procedural set in Modern day London when part of police work is dealing with murderous magic.  Very funny voice. Well done.

Andrea says:

I’m finally settling back into a normal routine after all the upheaval of moving earlier this summer. And as usual, I’m doing my ying and yang style of reading. For fiction, I’ve gone back to a book I set aside the first time I tried it—the backstory on that is I recently spent the day with my roommates from college, and as we’re all avid readers, the book recommendations were flying fast and furious (As were our fingers! Everyone was busy typing TBR lists on their Wenches Wolf Halli-phones!) Wolf Hall was mentioned, and I said I had given up on it, whereupon I was implored to give it another go, and assured that I would end up loving it. So I am. I want to love it—and I’m warming up to it, but the style/voice is still hard going for me. But I vow to stick it out. (How did everyone else feel about it?)

For non-fiction, I’m reading a very entertaining history of Wenches broadsides the Age of Fighting Sail entitled Broadsides, by Nathan Miller, which covers the time period between the American Revolution and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It’s very well-written, and along with detailed descriptions of the battles, it highlights the personalities of the captains and admirals, and gives a fascinating picture of life aboard a British warship.

From Nicola we have:  

Wenches silkwormThis month I have been reading The Silkworm, JK Rowling’s second crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I enjoy a good old-fashioned whodunit and the first two books in the Cormoran Strike series have been great – intricately plotted, clever, and with some well drawn characters. I am enjoying the way that the relationship between Cormoran, the rather eccentric PI and Robin, his feisty sidekick, is developing and the hints of romance between the two of them. The Silkworm is particularly fun as it’s set in the writing world and contains some very sharp observations about authors, agents and publishers!
In contrast I’ve also been reading Prince Rupert, The Last Cavalier, a Wenches rupertbiography of Prince Rupert of the Rhine by Charles Spencer. It’s background reading for my current book and although I’ve read it before I’m finding it equally interesting the second time around. Charles Spencer paints a vivid picture of a fascinat
ing man.

Pat says:

Argh, I’m reading old manuscripts, attempting to ready them for e-book production. I think all that editing late in the evening has jaded my reading for pleasure. I picked up Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, a fabulously written book with meticulous historical detail, set in Scotland in both contemporary time and early 1700s. But once I saw where the history was headed, I skipped to the end because there was only one way that story was going to unfold. Apparently Wenches winter seaI’ve lost the ability to lose myself in the story.

So now I’m reading a Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line mystery by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. If you’ve never seen the TV show— it’s about a teen struggling with some serious angst while helping her father in his private detective work. I wish we had more shows where the sex and violence is minimal, and the characters and stories are so well developed. The book starts ten years after the TV story, after Veronica has earned a law degree. It sounds just like the show, catches us up on old characters, and is a good strong mystery. Now I need to hunt another distraction that I won’t be editing in my head …

Anne here:
First up for me is Eloisa James's  Three Weeks with Lady X. I think it's now my favorite of all her books, just beating When Beauty Tamed the Beast.  The banter between the hero and heroine is witty and delightful, with some laugh out loud chuckles along the way, and the sizzle builds beautifully to a delicious climax. My only problem with the book is that I bought it as an e-book and now I'll have to get it in hard copy as I know it's one I want on my keeper shelf. Wenches Raven-Flight

Another historical I enjoyed recently was Mary Balogh's A Secret Affair. On the plane home I devoured Juliet Marillier's Raven Flight, the second in her YA fantasy series that started with Shadowfell. I  can't wait for the third in this series. After that I read Kristan Higgins's Waiting For You, a lovely, fun, contemporary small town romance.

Susan here:  Like Nicola, I'm also reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JKR), and very much enjoying it. The first one, The Cuckoo's Calling, was a great read, and turned me into a Cormoran Strike fan. I love the flaws in this British gumshoe, his honest if chaotic lifestyle, his laid-back wit and depth of intelligence, and the novels have many interesting layers of character and story. Wenches the moor

I'm also reading The Moor, another in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King. I'm way behind in reading this series, and I've only just started this one so don't have much to say, except that I liked the first three Russell-Holmes books (Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment and A Letter from Mary) so much that I am continuing. While that's hardly unusual for some, it's highly unusual for me. I am not much for keeping up with a series – but so far, so good! King likes King. What can I say. 😉


So that's the reading round-up for this month. 

What are you reading? What are you excited about in the world of literature.

One reader drawn from the comment thread will win any one of my books they desire, (including the not-yet-released Rogue Spy … though you'll have to wait six weeks or so till they send me my copies.)


Same Book, Different Cover

The Lady and the Laird Nicola CornickNicola here, talking today about why books have different
covers depending on which country they are released in.

My latest book, The Lady and the Laird, has had the closest
to simultaneous release I’ve ever had (within 6 weeks) in the US, the UK and
Australia, and this has provided an interesting contrast in terms of the covers
chosen for the three different editions.

First up is the US version. I think it’s very pretty and I
absolutely love the colours, the subtle use of tartan and the landscape.

The UK cover sticks with an elegant style that has been used
by MIRA for my books
Laird_uk_350 for the last few years. Again it’s very pretty. One reader
commented: “I love the romanticism and mystery of this cover. It says classy,
sensuous and intriguing.”

Last but very definitely not least is the Australian cover,
which I first heard about when it caused a stir on Goodreads! It’s hard to
believe but in my entire writing career I have never had a single cover
featuring a bare-chested man or even one with his shirt open so when I saw my
hunky, topless Scot I was pretty much overwhelmed!

The Lady and the Laird mystery coverBoth the US and Australian covers say “Scottish historical”
but in a very different way from each other. The UK one simply says
“historical” I think. Interestingly when I asked readers to vote on which they
liked best, people didn’t divide up according to where they came from. There
were plenty of UK readers who loved the US cover, plenty of US and UK readers who
adored the topless Scot, and others who thought the UK cover was gorgeous. So choosing cover art by territory is not an exact science (as it were.)

Designing cover art is a fascinating business – how do you
make a book appealing to readers at the same time as capturing the spirit of
the story? What is even more fascinating is that putting different covers on
different editions of the same book is pretty common. Evidently publishers really do feel
that what appeals to readers in the US is different from what appeals in the
UK and vice versa and that German taste, for instance, will vary from Portuguese.

Harry Potter 2The story of what happened with the cover of the first Harry
Potter book is pretty well known. In the UK
Harry Potter 1 it was called Harry Potter and the
Philosopher’s Stone
.  The cover is on the right. In the US it was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and
the cover is on the left.

They not only changed the cover but also the title.
And in the UK there was also an “adult” version of the book for those people
who didn’t want to be seen reading a kid’s book! I don’t know if this happened
in the US as well.

A different but equally interesting contrast is provided by
Hilary Mantel’s historical novel Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall.
The US cover is on the left below and the UK one on the right. The US cover has an instantly recognisable image of Anne Boleyn on it whilst the UK one is intriguing if a little more obscure.

Hilary Mantel 1It’s interesting that the major reason given for varying the
covers of books depending on which country you are in is that the cultural
tastes of different countries vary hugely and so what will appeal in one
place won’t have the same
Hilary Mantel 2 impact in another. Certain layouts and imagery may strike a chord with readers in different parts of the world, but as we’ve seen
this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds.

What do you think about putting different covers on
different editions of the same book? Do you think it’s a good idea or should
books, like films, have a global identity?