Monday, December 10, 2012


Here is a collection of the most beloved classic novels as reccomended by His Writers, a group of historical writers who are also avid classic book readers. I combined their reccomendations with Amazon's rankings and this is the list I got.

Happy Reading!

FAVORITE CLASSIC BOOKS compiled by Therese Stenzel

Top Ten in order of recommendation
1.   Jane Eyre

2.   Gone With The Wind

3.    Pride & Prejudice

4.   To Kill a Mocking Bird

5.   Wuthering Heights

6.   Black Beauty

7.   The Count of Monte Cristo

8.    The Secret Garden

9.   Sense and Sensibility

10.                1984

Other Top Favorites-Amazon  4 ½ stars and up

Little Women

Crime and Punishment

Anna Karenina

The Phantom of the Opera

Anya Seton


Anne of Green Gables

Les Miserables

The Great Gatsby

The Blue Castles

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Woman In White

The Brothers Karamazov

The Three Musketeers

War and Peace

Don Quixote

The Importance of Being Ernest

Wives and Daughters


Sunday, November 11, 2012


Compiled by Therese Stenzel

Top Book Recommendations
The Christkindls Gift by Kathleen Morgan
Forever Christmas by Chris Lynxwiler
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens  

Authors Most Mentioned
Angels Everywhere by Debbie Macomber
The Trouble With Angels by Debbie Macomber
Those Christmas Angels by Debbie Macomber
Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber
Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury
Maggie's Miracle by Karen Kingsbury
Sarah's Song by Karen Kingsbury
Hannah’s Hope by Karen Kingsbury
The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado
The Christmas Child by Max Lucado 

Christmas Novellas 4 1/2 stars and up
A Bride by Christmas
Montana Mistletoe
Prairie Christmas
Victorian Christmas Quilt  

General Fiction 4 1/2 stars and up
A Carol for Christmas by Robin Lee Hatcher
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
A Texas Christmas Legacy by DiAnn Mills
A Wish For Wings That Work by Berkeley Breathed
Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge
Home Another Way by Christa Parrish
Miracle On 34th Street by Valentine Davies
Old Christmas by Washington Irving
One Perfect Gift by Kathleen Morgan
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
The Angel Doll by Jerry Bledsoe
The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere
The Shepherd, The Angel, and Walter The Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry
Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


When I come home
Dear folk o’ mine
We’ll drink a cup
Of olden wine;
And yet however
Rich it be
No wine will taste so go to me
As English air
-Leslie Coulson

HEARTS IN THE HIGHLANDS by Ruth Axtell Morren is a delightful read. Set in England and Scotland, the story weaves in an interesting backdrop of archeology and society in the late Victorian era. The romance is refreshingly written in a slow tantalizing manner that will keep you avidly reading to the very end. Warning—don’t start this book late at night, otherwise you might never sleep!

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH ENGLAND by Susan Allen Toth is a must read for any self-respecting Anglophile. This true story chronicles a woman’s passion for all things English. Not just another travel memoir, Ms. Toth brings England vividly to life in description and settings but also in that singular passion that all British lovers understand. Come stand in the rain soaked streets of London, walk the paths of the Lake District, and take a trip to the seaside village of Exmoor and fall in love all over again.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s WIVES AND DAUGHTERS is a deliciously engaging costume drama in the tradition of Jane Austen. Set in a richly portrayed society, well stocked with eccentric nobles and marriage minded mothers, the story centers around 17 year sold Molly Gibson, the only daughter of a respected country doctor. The well-ordered world of her childhood is complicated by her father’s decision to remarry. Molly’s faltering efforts to cope with an impossible stepmother, a charming stepsister, and a promising romance makes for an absorbing movie.


Sunday, October 28, 2012


My new Scottish historical e-book, Bride of Thistleloch Castle is out on Amazon! 


A young English woman is thrust into the barbaric Highlands of Scotland—to a country that she has been taught to despise. But to stay alive, she must overcome prejudices that have festered for generations. She must accept that the God of heaven loves her. She must wed a Scottish savage.

English woman, Laren Stewart travels with her family to visit their relations in Scotland only to be forced into a terrifying situation. She finds herself bartered, wed, and widowed all within forty-eight hours. Now kidnapped by a rival clan, the barbaric MacLennens, and believed to be the wife of another laird, she is dragged further north to be held for ransom. Laren, a despised Outlander desperately clings to the hope that no one will discover her secret—that she was not wed to the clan chief. All she wants is to go home to civilized England and to save her sister from her same fate—but when the truth is revealed about who she is, all that will keep her alive is to agree to a handfasting to yet another Scottish savage.


Therese Stenzel-British Historical author

Blue Africa

Forever and a Day

Bride of Thistleloch Castle-available on Amazon

Blog-British Missives at



Saturday, October 13, 2012


I remember one summer ten years ago when my boys were little and life was all about sippy cups and diapers, challenging myself to read Jane Austen--I needed something to feed my brain and Dora the Explorer wasn't doing it.
I started with Pride and Prejudice and struggled to get through it, until I watched the movie, and then I could keep all the characters straight and loved the book. That summer I read three of Jane's books.

Lately, I've been missing that classic literature. I have piles of really good English historicals written by contemporary authors, but I miss the classics written by British writers whose mastery of the English language proved that they are indeed from the same island as Shakespeare.

I want to reread Elizabeth Bennett’s first refusal of Mr. Darcy, all the naval banter in a Horatio Hornblower book, follow the heart ache of Jane Eyre.

So here's my challenge--finish up the novel you're reading, then blow off the dust of a classic you've been meaning to get to, or have already read. Return to old England. Escape to a time when manners and exquisite speech meant everything.

I've just finished watching the BBC version of Emma--it absolutely transported me in time for several delightful hours.  Now I plan on settling down to read Emma again. With a cup of tea. And a biscuit. Or two.

With much felicity


Monday, October 1, 2012


FOREVER AND A DAY is an e-book that normally sells for $5.97 is a FREE download Oct 1-5. Here is the link,
FOREVER AND A DAY: In a world where position and rank are everything, can two souls stand firm in their desires and their faith?

In the courts of King Louis XVIth and Marie Antoinette, a storm is brewing that will overthrow a monarchy. Caught up in the maelstrom is a young girl, who becomes a pawn in a hopeless attempt to quell the peasant rebellion. But the cost to her is greater than she could ever imagine.

FOREVER AND A DAY is a tale of an impoverished girl who is forced to leave her family to live as a pretend princess in the French royal court to appease the growing unrest among the peasants. Unfortunately, pretending to be royal requires that she accept a betrothal to an English duke. Now living in the Queen’s House (Buckingham Palace) and awaiting her marriage, she clashes with the duke’s secretary, the man who could reveal her true identity. But when his life is at stake, can she learn to wait the Lord to give her the desires of her heart?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

British Author Birthdays

Elizabeth Gaskell
What famous British author do you share a birthday with?

Jan- E. M. Forester

Feb-Charles Dickens

March-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

April-Charlotte Bronte

May-Robert Browning

June-Thomas Hardy

July-Emily Bronte

Aug-Georgette Heyer

Sept-Elizabeth Gaskell

Oct-John Keats

Nov-George Eliot
Dec-Jane Austen

Saturday, September 8, 2012



Complied by Therese Stenzel

Thanks to all the readers who responded to my question--who is the one hero who stayed with you long after you finished a book? I have read some of these books and the heroes will not disappoint you.

I have listed the top five, and then to make it easier for you to find a hero you like, I broke it down by genre. Enjoy!

Top Five Heroes in order of popularity:

1.      Rhett Butler, from Gone With The Wind

2.      Jamie Fraser, from Outlander

3.      Fitzwilliam Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice

4.      John Knightly, from Emma

5.      John Thornton, from North and South


Young Adult

Pony Boy, from The Outsiders

Historical Fiction (American)

Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird

Harold de Vries, from She Walks In Beauty

John Murphy, from Vienna Prelude

Michael Hosea, from Redeeming Love

“Nevada", from Forlorn River

Rhett Butler, from Gone with the Wind

Historical Fiction (English)

Captain Alex Randall, from Shadow of the Moon

Collin McGuire, from A Passion Most Pure

Fitzwilliam Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice

Jamie Fraser, from Outlander

John Knightly, from Emma

John Thornton, from North and South

Lord Damerel, from Venetia

Ruark Beauchamp, from Shanna

Historical Fiction (Biblical)

Ari Ben Canaan, from Exodus

Judah Ben Hur, from Ben Hur

The apostle John, from John, Son of Thunder


Ty Buchanan, from the Ty Buchanan Series.


Roland Deschain, (aka Roland of Gilead), from the Dark Tower series

Thomas Covenant, from the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series.

Wedge Antilles, from Starfighters of Adumar


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New British Historical

The second book in my British Missive series, FOREVER AND A  DAY is available on Amazon for $3.97

In a world where position and rank are everything, can two souls stand firm in their desires and their faith?

In the courts of King Louis XVIth and Marie Antoinette, a storm is brewing that will overthrow a monarchy. Caught up in the maelstrom is a young girl, who becomes a pawn in a hopeless attempt to quell the peasant rebellion. But the cost to her is greater than she could ever imagine.

FOREVER AND A DAY is a tale of a impoverished girl who is forced to leave her family to live as a pretend princess in the French royal court to appease the growing unrest among the peasants. Unfortunately pretending to be royal requires that she accept a betrothal to an English duke. Now living in the Queen’s House (Buckingham Palace) and awaiting her marriage, she clashes with the duke’s secretary, the man who could reveal her true identity. But when his life is at stake, can she learn to wait the Lord to give her the desires of her heart.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Just by accident I caught the second half of a documentary on Jane Austen. The show centered around how she is celebrated in England today. There is one day (her birthday?) where lots of people, men and women, dress up in Georgian costume and parade around. It was lovely to see the cotumes and to know that I am not alone in my love for her writing. 

That show started a craving in me to reread Mansfield Park. So I started last night. It is always an adjustment to read something written over 100 years ago, but once I get into the rhythm of it, I find I can read pretty fast. Mansfield Park is not my favorite of Jane's novels, Pride and Prejudice will steadfastly remain my all time beloved book, but I thought instead of reading that one for the tenth time, I should try again to get through MP.

Sigh, the manner of speech, the profuse politleness, interesting pursuits of country life absolulty capture me. And of course, Jane always weaves in one or two ridiculous characters to make the stories real.

So entranced by Jane's writing, once I even wrote out the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice with pen and ink on parchment, just to have a feel of what it might have been like to be like her. To walk in her "slippers." 

I guess you could say I am an obsessed Anglophile with Jane Austen overtones :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Top Ten British Movie List

1. Pride and Prejudice (BBC version)

2. North and South

3. Wives and Daughters

4. Pirates of the Caribbean series

5. King Arthur

6. Persuasion (BBC version)

7. Gosford Park

8. Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson version)

9. Howard's End

10. Under the Greenwood Tree

Friday, July 27, 2012


Dear British Missives reader, you are getting the first peek at my new book cover for the second book in the British Missive series called, Forever and a Day...
This book comes out Sept 1. and I am so excited that,
 I am giving away for free the first book in the series, Blue Africa...
So for the next 5 days,

Go to
and type in Blue Africa and enjoy a book on me!

Therese Stenzel

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, --safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable . . . . The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers. . . .of love. . .is Hell.

-C. S. Lewis 1898-1963

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Message From Jane

A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.
Jane Austen

Top 100 Romance Novels of the 20th Century

Top 100 Romance Novels of The 20th Century

by the readers of The Romance Reader. Here are the first 20:

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

2. Dream Man by Linda Howard

3. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

4. McKenzie’s Mountain by Linda Howard

5. Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux

6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

7. The Bride by Julie Garwood

8. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

9. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

10. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

11. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

12. Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

13. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss

14. Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood

15. Paradise by Judith McNaught

16. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

17. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

18. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss

19. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

20. Born in Fire by Nora Roberts

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Dinner is Served:Roles of English Servants by Therese Stenzel, copyright 2007

Need a Butler to decant the wine at dinner? A Lady's Maid to do up a row of buttons? A Footman to carry a silver soup tureen into the dining room? English servants can bring an authentic note to a period novel when the strict hierarchy and specific roles of each servant bow to historical accuracy.

Movies like GosfordPark, Remains of the Day, and Berkeley Square are great resources for understanding the intricate lives of servants in the 1800's and 1900's. A rigid set of rules dictated when they arose, bathed, ate, who they spoke to, and how they dressed. For example at mealtimes, the Upper Servants; Butler, Housekeeper, Cook, Valet, and Lady's Maid met in the Housekeeper's room and filed into the servant's hall in order of station. The Butler sat at the head of the table, and the Housekeeper took a seat at the opposite end. The male servants sat in order of position on one side and the female servants down the other, but only after the Butler gave them permission. He would carve the meat and send the plate to the Housekeeper who served the vegetables. The Second Footman took the plates round to each servant in order of seniority. After dinner, the Upper Servants retired for coffee and fine desserts in the Housekeepers Room while the Lower Servants; Footman, House, Kitchen, and Scullery Maids washed up after the meal.

Considered the most senior servant, the Butler existed as "Mr. Jennings" to the servants and "Jennings" to his employer. He presided over the male staff, supervised the footmen in their serving of meals, the wine cellar, the "plate" (or family silverware,) and each morning ironed his Master's newspaper. He performed most of his duties from a special room called the Butler's Pantry. There the plate and china resided when not in use. The Butler would be the one to take a gentleman or lady visitor directly into the drawing room whilst making sure that the tradesman, workers, or other staff waited in the hall. He maintained responsibly for ringing the "dressing bell" to let guests know it was time to put on their dinner attire. He would oversee the setting of the table, trimming candlewicks, filling lamps with oil, and cleaning the silver. The last duty of the day would be to check that all fires and lights were safely damped out and all doors locked. In 1872, a Butler would earn $750 a year.

The senior female servant, the Housekeeper supervised the hiring and firing of the woman staff. Referred to as "Mrs" whether married or not, she looked after the household accounts, purchased supplies, cured, bottled, and preserved food. She met daily with the Lady of the house to go over the books and preside over the Servant's Tea, using that time to relay any necessary information to members of the staff. She oversaw the storeroom, china closet, still room, and linen cupboard. If the laundry was sent out, she carefully recorded each piece as it went out and came back. Easy to identify, the Housekeeper wore a black silk uniform and large set of keys safely at her waist. Keys prevailed in importance, as many expensive items, tealeaves, spices, and pickled meat remained locked up. Her last duty in the evening would be to oversee the washing and storing of the dinner china. In 1872, she would have earned $300 a year.

The Lady's Maid, called "Miss" whether married or not, (or her mistress could choose to call her by her Christian name,) was often chosen for her looks and youth, although, having a French Lady's Maid remained the height of respectability. Her main responsibilities consisted of attending to her Ladyship's grooming, dressing, packing and laying out her clothes, washing and repairing undergarments, and fixing her hair in the latest fashion. These duties consumed the day as the Lady of the house could spend four to five hours dressing for various meals. The Lady's Maid would also oversee the tidying of her Ladyships' boudoir. At times considered a sort of companion to her mistress and yet treated as a servant, she lived a lonely life. Being better educated than the average maid, permitted to wear her mistress' cast off clothing, and served breakfast each morning by a Second Housemaid, the other maids often resented her. Her last duty would be to wait up until her ladyship retired to assist in undressing, loosening, and brushing her hair. In 1872, she would have earned $150 a year.

A Valet would look after his master's clothing ensuring his wardrobe remained in good order. Sometimes referred to as a gentleman's gentleman, his job consisted of laying out clothing, keeping shoes and hats clean and in good repair, standing behind his employer at dinner, running his bath, and traveling with him. He also had the precarious responsibly of shaving his master with an open cut-throat razor. Most of his job would have taken place in the Brushing Room where you would find boot trees, hatboxes, wire brushes, polishes, and mothballs. In this room, the Valet would have ironed top hats, whitened riding breeches, brushed wool coats, and washed and stretched his master's gloves. His last duty would be to wait up until his Lordship retired to assist in his undressing. In 1872, he would have earned $300.

Many Cooks supervised large staffs to produce three sometimes four elaborate meals a day for the Family and to impress guests. She met daily with the Lady of the house to discuss menus as a minimum of six courses were expected and up to twenty-two could be served on special occasions. In addition, the Cook would be required to provide food for nursery meals, cricket teas, picnics, and dinner parties. Lighting a fire was much more difficult without the ease of matches. Every evening she would preserve embers until morning with a metal dome. Only extremely rich families could afford to hire a male cook or the ultimate status symbol, a French Chef. The last duty of the day would be to prepare the Family's evening meal. In 1872, a male cook would have earned $500, a female cook $350.

The Groom oversawthe care of the horses. If no Coachman served on staff, he would also maintain and drive the carriages. Mornings were spent mucking out the stables, feeding, and cleaning the horses, and preparing a horse or carriage when a member of the Family wished to go riding. Any time a horse or carriage went out, it had to be immediately cleaned and properly stored so that it was ready at a moments notice. He also fashioned and mended harnesses. He did not live in the house, but in accommodations above the stable. Unless the Family went out for the evening and needed the carriage, his last duty would be to feed the horses and put them in the stable. In 1872, he earned $300.

The Footmen had duties in and outside the estate. Responsible for carrying coal, cleaning silverware, announcing visitors, and waiting at table, he also attended the Lady of the house when she went calling by leaving the visitor cards at the front door while she passed the time in the carriage. They often wore vividly ornate uniforms with colorful hats trimmed in gold braid, short knee britches, white gloves and stockings until the late 1800's when their uniforms were simplified. Since they served in pairs, height was vastly important and a tall footman earned more than a short one. The First Footman acted as a sort of valet to the eldest son serving him breakfast, running his bath, preparing clothes, and shaving him. He would also lay the breakfast on the sideboard (the English are not waited on at breakfast,) clear the table after each meal, and clean the glass and plate. He also served afternoon tea to the Family in the drawing room. A Second Footman would have handled the more mundane duties of cleaning the staff boots, emptying the male chamber pots, and valeting the youngest son of the house. His last duty would be to clear and clean dinner china. In 1872, he would earn $150 a year.

Housemaids kept the estate immaculate, bedrooms supplied with water for washing, bathing, and insured fires continued to burn. They scrubbed and emptied chamber pots, drew curtains, turned down beds, dusted and polished, cleaned bedrooms, and tidied the public rooms. They performed grueling monotonous labor as the floors had to scrubbed by hand, fireplaces cleaned out daily, grates polished with black lead, and water lugged from the kitchen and then carried room-to-room. Larger households would employ a First Housemaid for the lighter work and Second and Third Housemaids for the more physical work. The center of her cleaning was the Housemaid's closet. It contained such supplies as foot brushes, stove brushes, banister brushes, carpet brushes, shoe brushes, furniture brushes, velvet brushes, closet brushes, oil brushes, carpet brooms, bed brooms, hair brooms, and wall brooms. She also served the Housekeeper her morning tea. The last job of the evening would be to fill hot water bottles and place them in the Family's and Upper Servants beds to warm them. In 1872, they earned they earned $100-150.

A Kitchen Maid's first job was to prepare the breakfast trays for the Upper Servants and to assist the Cook in preparing the Family's breakfast. She is responsible for making all the breads, sauces, and vegetable dishes for the Family's luncheon, all servants meals and to store any leftovers. She prepared a light evening meal for the children of the house and assisted the Cook in the preparations for the Family dinner. She is only allowed upstairs once a day for compulsory prayers. All her time is spent in the kitchen or her room. Her last duty would be to store away leftover from the Family dinner. In 1872, she earned $75-100 a year.

The Scullery Maid, considered the lowest servant in the house, worked eighteen hours a day. Usually in her early teens, she would be the earliest to rise, with the first task to stoke the kitchen range to a fierce heat so the teakettle boiled quickly for morning tea. She must empty all chamber pots of the female staff and assist the Lower Servants in preparing breakfast for the Upper Servants. She had to clean the kitchen passages, pantries, kitchen, and scullery, lay the servant's hall table for breakfast, clear and wash up afterwards, including all pots, pans, and kitchen utensils used. She would continue lay tables, clear, and wash up throughout the day. A dinner for five utilized 180 separate pieces of porcelain, silver, and crystal, each item needing to be washed and safely stored away. Allowed upstairs only once a day for compulsory prayers, it is the only time she would see her employers. In 1872, she would have earned $50-75.

Dairy Maids churned butter into milk, made clotted cream, butter, milked the cows and delivered it up to the estate, turn curds into cheese and kept the diary clean using only sand and hot water.

Laundress was in charge of cleaning clothes and household washing. Smaller homes had their laundry sent out.

Nanny's cared and dressed the younger members of the family. Took children on excursions to get plenty of fresh air and would be assisted by nursery maids. In larger establishments, a footman would be assigned to the nursery. Nanny slept in the nursery in a separate room next to her charges.

The Governess taught children until the boys left for boarding school. The girls remained in the schoolroom. Although a Governess would have the demeanor and deportment of a lady, usually educated cultured, properly mannered and well bred as well as young and fresh faced, they were treated as servants, because of this, they were often very lonely. There lady-like deportment often created romances in the family.

Maid-of-All-Work was hired if you could only afford one servant. She did a little bit of everything combining the work done by the Cook, Housemaid, Lady's Maid, Laundress, and Nursemaid.

Page is a young boy hired to run errands and answer the door. He served as a junior grade Footman.