Ask a Wench

Christina here with this month’s ASK A WENCH and today the question we are answering is:-

“Do you reread books you enjoyed 20 years ago or do you prefer to just let them be a happy memory in case they’ve dated badly?”

Pat:  I don’t re-read anything much. My TBR stack is toppling as is. But sometimes, I need a comfort read before bed, preferably in paper. Unfortunately, I had to leave all my romance Keepers behind when I moved. At the time, I tried to dive into the shelves and look for favorites to bring with me, but many of them were dated and didn’t suck me in as they once had. I think that’s more a problem of having read way too many similar books for years afterward, as publishers tend to produce books similar to the original bestsellers until the imitations quit selling. Kind of wears out the originality and the reason for re-reading.

But because my husband and I both read Terry Pratchett, and he won’t give up anything, we have the entire collection of Pratchett books. When we first bought them, I read in order of purchase, well after the Disc World series had started. This past year, I started with the first in the series, and I’ve been working my way through the entire collection in order. They definitely stand up to the test of time, because of their originality. No one can write humor or create worlds like Pratchett. I’m not sure what I’ll do when those run out!

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Terms of Endearment

Nicola here. Back in 2013 – ten years ago! – I wrote a blog piece reflecting on the way in which people have expressed their affection for each other over the centuries, which a month or so ago Pat Wench rediscovered when she was searching for Regency terms of endearment. We all got chatting about this again and I thought it would be fun to dig out and update the old post as it’s such an interesting topic for discussion. Times change and terms of endearment change with them – so here’s a new take on our favourite sweet nothings.

One day in 2013, a reader queried if my use of the endearment “sweetheart” was authentic to the Regency period. I was pretty sure that the word originated long before the 19th century but I ran to check my dictionary anyway and found that sweetheart was first used in the late 13th century. Originally written as two words, “swete” and “heart” it meant someone who made your heart beat faster. Back in the days when Henry VIII actually liked Anne Boleyn, he called her sweetheart a lot. Variations on this are “sweeting” which dates from 1350 and “sweetikins” which – extraordinarily, was first used in about 1600!

“Darling” is even earlier usage, dating to before the 12th century. Evidently finding an affectionate term for a loved one is something people have been doing for a long, long time.

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The Joy of the Letter

Butterfly cardNicola here, talking about letters and cards, letter-writing and research. Last week, a friend who lives a few doors down, put a hand written card through my door to fix up a get-together. She could have texted or used any one of a half dozen other ways of getting in touch but the card really thrilled me because it feels so unusual to receive hand-written cards and letters these days. Despite this, cards and other beautiful stationery are very popular and I’m always tempted to buy some when I visit historic houses or other lovely places that sell smart stationery. As a result, I have an ever-increasing pile of cards in my desk and seldom seem to have the chance to send them to anyone, though I do my best to find those occasions when I can.

At the same time, I’ve been researching the book I’m writing about the history of Ashdown House, and have been reminded of how important letters and letter-writing was to our forbears as a way of sharing news (and gossip!) and consequently how useful letters are to historians. In fact, my new fiction timeslip book also underlines this, as the heroine and her sister are both illiterate, never having been taught to read or write as children because they were poor (and girls). Learning to read is one of my heroine’s ambitions.

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Dogs in Art

TibsChristina here. I’ve always been a dog lover so when I finally had some of my own, I wanted them immortalised in a painting. This was the result and I love it! Turns out I’m not the only dog owner with that idea though …

Last week I went to see an exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London which was all about dog portraits. It is the first ever exhibition to explore our wonderful relationship with dogs through art. Right up my street and I wasn’t disappointed! The first sign showed a quote which I totally agree with:-

“The Dog is the most faithful Animal in the World, and beloved by Men.” (Iconologia or Moral Emblems, by Caesar Ripa, English Translation 1709)

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Celebration Time!

Circular_Temple_-_panoramio Mark A Coleman  CC BY 3.0 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby3.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Mark A Coleman

Christina here and I'm delighted to tell you that this week it's THE WORD WENCHES’ 16th ANNIVERSARY! In order to celebrate properly, we decided to hold a picnic and you’re all invited!

We're each bringing our favourite historical food to a lovely park somewhere in the UK – the precise location is a secret as it’s by invitation only, but you can reach it via this lovely temple folly which acts as a time portal.

The setting – hills, woodland and parkland – is beautiful, with wildflowers, ancient trees and herds of deer that can be glimpsed roaming in the distance.

Andrea Vauxhall (2)Birds fill the air with song and a couple of peacocks are strutting nearby showing off their shimmering plumage. There’s a boating lake too, where we can paddle in the water if we like, or just drift peacefully while someone else does the rowing. For our comfort, we have brought rugs and silk cushions to recline upon, and we would advise you to bring a parasol or a hat as the sun can be very hot! It's going to be a wonderful day and here’s what else the Wenches will be bringing:-

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