Miss Gwen’s Literary Heritage

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I was poking around the archives on Lauren’s website a while ago, and I came across her post discussing the literary lineage of Miss Gwen. Evidently, Lauren was asked on a fairly regular basis if Miss Gwen was based on anyone that she knew. So Lauren decided to let us in on the inspiration behind our Pink X heroine. She lists these characters as her primary inspiration for Miss Gwendolyn Meadows:

  1. Lucinda Throckmorton-Jones from Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven
  2. Amelia Peabody from Elizabeth Peters’ series beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank
  3. Beatrice Poole from Amanda Quick’s With This Ring
  4. Jacqueline Kirby from Elizabeth Peters’ series beginning with The Seventh Sinner

I’ve read books from both of the Elizabeth Peters series. I absolutely adored Amelia Peabody. Miss Gwen’s way of thinking, speaking, and relating to her hero are all very reminiscent of Amelia. And, as Lauren points out, Gwen inherited her penchant for accessorized weaponry from Amelia. If you haven’t tried this series, I highly recommend it!

I also read one of Peters’ Jacqueline Kirby books, but in this case… I was underwhelmed. I will say, in Peters’ defense, I picked up a copy of Naked Once More without having read the first three books in the series. I didn’t even know it WAS a series. So my lack of enthusiasm for Jacqueline probably stems from my nonexistent knowledge of her previous exploits. I do recognize that Lauren could easily have drawn inspiration for Miss Gwen’s larger than life personality from Jacqueline, and I’m thinking now that I should probably pick up a copy of The Seventh Sinner and see how I like it.

What about you? Have you read the stories of any of Miss Gwen’s literary ancestresses? Or do you have other characters in mind that remind you of Miss Gwen?

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18 thoughts on “Miss Gwen’s Literary Heritage

  1. I’m a big Elizabeth Peters fan and a HUGE Lauren Willig fan, so I appreciated that tribute. Did anyone else see a little Amelia Peabody and Emerson in Gail Carriger’s “Souless?” Do you guys know any other authors who write historical mysteries with a little humor and romance? My publisher needs recommendations for authors who they can approach for blurbs for my novel “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc,” which is coming out Nov 3rd. Of course, I asked Lauren and she said she’d read it. (I’m totally thrilled!!!) Is anybody else going to be at Lauren’s signing in Denver this month?

  2. I actually have read all the books Lauren mentioned, which is, of course, why I love the Pinks. Lauren enjoys the same books as me. Don’t miss “Almost Heaven” (or “Something Wonderful”(historical), “Paradise” or “Perfect” (those are two separate contemporary titles) by McNaught. I don’t remember the secondary character in “Almost Heaven” at all because I was so focused on Elizabeth and Ian. They are two charismatic personalities! I have “With This Ring” on my bookshelf, but can’t remember the characters. Time for a reread. I’d definitely say the two Peters characters are represented in Miss Gwen, and I’m glad to see that confirmed in print. Jacqueline Kirby was interesting, but I think she was an Amelia Peabody forerunner. (It looks like Kirby arrived in 1972 and 1974, and Amelia first showed up in 1975 and then 1981.) Amelia took on the most interesting qualities and turned into a much more entertaining person! (I should mention Jacqueline tended to carry all necessary implements in her very large purse.) I wouldn’t put the Kirby books anywhere close to the depth and readability as Amelia’s, who continued so much longer and took on so much more likeability and depth.

  3. I haven’t read any of these either. There are several matriarchs in Deanna Rayborn’s Lady Julia mysteries which remind me of the earlier incarnations of Miss Gwen though…

  4. I agree about Naked Once More, one of my least favorite Elizabeth Peters books, I had the feeling when I read it that Elizabeth Peters was not in a good mood when she wrote it, I did not really like any of the characters other than Jacqueline. The Seventh Sinner, though, is a really good mystery and Jacqueline is great fun in that but it does not match the Amelia Peabody novels. In reading some of Lauren Willig’s posts I noticed that she has read many of my favorites!

      • There should be a “like” button after your comment, Ashley! I get some of my favorite book recommendations here. I will love you forever for being my gateway to Vienna Waltz and Tracy Grant’s books.

  5. My favorite of Elizabeth Peters’ heroines is Vicky Bliss, who is very much a different person (perhaps a combination of Penelope and Laura?) from Miss Gwen but I can see the influences of both Jacqueline and Amelia in Gwen. I liked Die From Love, the Jacqueline book which comes before Naked Once More better and, like Miss Gwen’s horrid novel, it’s as much a parody on elements of publishing as a mystery.

  6. I am going to read Crocodile on the Sandbank this summer! It has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a very long time!

    I remember thinking that Lady Danbury, a recurring character in Julia Quinn books was going to be like Miss Gwen. Lady Danbury is, however, actually elderly. She terrorizes with a cane rather than a (sword) parasol.

    • Paige – you are in for a terrific treat! I’m remembering what it was like to read “Crocodile on the Sandbank” for the first time. Enjoy every minute, and then you’ll be Amelia-Peabody-addicted. 🙂 It was fascinating to see that Elizabeth Peters didn’t write “Curse of the Pharaohs” for another six years. During Crocodile, she really didn’t know she was setting the stage for a long series, but the seeds were all there to grow the characters.

      • Perfect! I need another series to be addicted to, because I don’t have enough to catch up on now…ah, ha ha ha. Seriously, I am even more excited to read this now!

  7. Oh how I loved Amelia! Every book is better than the previous, and Amelia’s tools are more refined.
    You should try the audio books for the series. Barbara Rosenblatt (?) does every voice so that it defines the characters. I recognized Amelia’s influence in Miss Gwen immediately. One thing I especially liked in that Peters’ series was the profession of years and aging of each character. Lauren does that too. Vicky Bliss never aged and in the last of the series, it really fell flat.

    • Sue – I have to agree we you about the Amelia audio books. I prefer them to the actual books now, because Barbara Rosenblatt brings the characters to life with amazing results.

    • Thanks for the audio book tip. I do listen at times to audio books. It is great to know that these are good, especially since this is a series.

  8. Ok now I really want to read these Amelia Peabody books! I remember Crocodile on the Sandbank being on a TBR list a while ago but I had forgotten about it. I guess it’s time to put it back on the list 🙂

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