Katherine

Katherine

This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenet...

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Title:Katherine
Author:Anya Seton
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Katherine Reviews

  • Lynn

    This book is both a spiritual coming of age tale and a hauntingly-beautiful love story.

    wrote some other good books, but make no mistake — this is her masterpiece.

    is based on the true story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt from 14th Century England. John, a younger son of King Edward III, was one of the richest and most powerful men of his day. His marriages were strategic alliances — but the great love of his life was Katherine, the humble, orphan daughter of one h

    This book is both a spiritual coming of age tale and a hauntingly-beautiful love story.

    wrote some other good books, but make no mistake — this is her masterpiece.

    is based on the true story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt from 14th Century England. John, a younger son of King Edward III, was one of the richest and most powerful men of his day. His marriages were strategic alliances — but the great love of his life was Katherine, the humble, orphan daughter of one his father's heralds.

    Katherine grows from an love-struck teenager into an intelligent and aware heroine over the thirty-year course of the story. John has moments of arrogance, but is also capable of tender acts of sweetness — He should join Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy on the list of sexiest men in literature.

    The couple's relationship develops slowly over the first half of the book, but the payoff is well worth the wait. The last page of this story

    makes me sigh.

    is the kind of novel that sucks you right in to its time and place. If you're anything like me, you're going to want to rush out and find out the true story behind it when you're done because you just can't let it go.

  • Diane

    This is the book that made me fall in love with historical fiction. It's based on the true story of the 14th-century love affair between Katherine de Roet and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster.

    As a young woman, Katherine was a reputed beauty but had few prospects, so she married the brutal Sir Hugh Swynford and had two children. By chance, her marriage put her in the path of the Duke, who was struck by her beauty. After Hugh died, Katherine and the Duke stole away and had their long anticipat

    This is the book that made me fall in love with historical fiction. It's based on the true story of the 14th-century love affair between Katherine de Roet and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster.

    As a young woman, Katherine was a reputed beauty but had few prospects, so she married the brutal Sir Hugh Swynford and had two children. By chance, her marriage put her in the path of the Duke, who was struck by her beauty. After Hugh died, Katherine and the Duke stole away and had their long anticipated love affair.

    While the plot sounds simple, the time and setting were not. There was a plague going on. There were peasant riots. War. Political battles. Katherine suffered many trials in her life -- this is not a romantic comedy. Indeed, I was so captivated by the story and the details in Seton's writing were so vivid that I felt as if I had been transported to medieval England.

    Published in 1954, the book has been beloved by innumerable readers over the years. I remember when a fellow librarian first mentioned Katherine to me. "Read it," she implored. "You'll LOVE it." And she was right.

  • Gary

    A detailed and rich novel, with the author showing a flair for the English language and a deep understanding of medieval English history. Colourful wording, and a balance between passionate scenes and descriptive tracing of the events of the life of the incredibly interesting and beautiful Katherine Swynford.

    One may have to reread parts, but if you focus you will find this a rewarding historical page turner, and understand why after 55 years it is still a best loved classic of historical literat

    A detailed and rich novel, with the author showing a flair for the English language and a deep understanding of medieval English history. Colourful wording, and a balance between passionate scenes and descriptive tracing of the events of the life of the incredibly interesting and beautiful Katherine Swynford.

    One may have to reread parts, but if you focus you will find this a rewarding historical page turner, and understand why after 55 years it is still a best loved classic of historical literature.

    The author meticulously researched her sources, and even for minor characters, used where she could, those mentioned in the chronicles.

    Hence we definitely do gain an insight into the lives of royalty and nobility as well as the ordinary people of the England of that time.

    Katherine Swynford was born from a humble background, the daughter of a herald. While her older sister Phillipa gained a position in the royal court, Katherine through her beauty and charm, beguiled the powerful nobleman John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, father of Henry IV, and ancestor of most of today's royal family, through his eventual marriage to Katherine, his long time paramour.

    Katherine is first pressured into marriage to the boorish and brutish knight, Hugh Swynford. She gains the friendship and gives her loyalty to Blanche, John of Gaunt's first wife. After the deaths of Blanche and Hugh, so begins the passionate liaison between the flame haired beauty Katherine, and the charismatic Duke of Lancaster and player in the power of England's politics of the time. John is haunted by malevolent slander of being a changeling while he determines to revenge himself on those behind this false charge. Katherine of course was dogged by the charge of the time often levelled against beautiful and passionate women, of harlotry.

    But instead of marrying his love Katherine john married the Spanish princess Constance of Castile

    Only years later did the lovers meet again after much pain and turmoil and spend three years of marriage before John of Gaunt's death.

    Covers events such as the Black Death, and the rebellion of the time led by Wat Tyler, during the reign of the boy king Richard II.

    We also get to meet characters such as John Chaucer (married to Katherine's sister) and the mystic Nun, St Julian.

    A great work of literature, well worth the effort

  • Kiri Fiona

    Either Katherine Swynford, her beloved John of Gaunt, or both (because she gave him 4 -

    - kids as his mistress), gave rise to the royal lines that include Kings Henry IV, V, VI & VII, Richard III, Edward IV, a Queen of Scots, every sovereign of Scotland since ages ago (sorry, my google is down or I'd sound way smarter right now) and every sovereign of England in the last 400 years. Meanwhile, my branch of o

    Either Katherine Swynford, her beloved John of Gaunt, or both (because she gave him 4 -

    - kids as his mistress), gave rise to the royal lines that include Kings Henry IV, V, VI & VII, Richard III, Edward IV, a Queen of Scots, every sovereign of Scotland since ages ago (sorry, my google is down or I'd sound way smarter right now) and every sovereign of England in the last 400 years. Meanwhile, my branch of our family tree includes an overweight cat.

    This isn't the kind of romance I normally read. Like, it's not the kind of romance where it's all about the couple, all the time, and I start to get pissy if they're apart for too much of the book. It's a romance in the way Gone With the Wind is a romance - there's a beautiful thread of love and loyalty and connection that weaves it's way through 30 years, but most of what happens on the page sees our couple separated. We've got crazy mothers-in-law, sniping sisters, arranged marriages, lots of babies being born, strained relationships between a mother and a daughter, Katherine coping with being

    , gossip, rioting, plague, wars, and royal dramas. There was

    going on.

    And Geoffrey Chaucer was in it. He's super smart.

    I really admired her resilience. When we first meet her she's a naive, wide eyed young girl with dreams and ambitions and very little idea of the world. Over time, her shine wears off but her character grows and we get to grow along with her. She suffered a lot through her time with Hugh, but she bore the burden graciously and I loved, loved, loved that she carried herself with integrity throughout her marriage. And she was funny! I didn't expect a 14th century real life person to be funny, but she was a quirky little thing.

    Yum. He was everything I imagine when I read regency romances - heroic, strong, practical, protective, cold, brave. And we saw a different side of him when he and Katherine were alone - he was actually the more sweet and loving one of them when they were alone - but I think at the end of the day he was a knight, through and through. Everything he did was for the betterment of his line, his family, and his king, but I never doubted that he loved Katherine.

    I didn't like them all, but Ms Seton's writing bought them all to life in a way that I was interested in them all. And, ok, was Nirac gay? I feel like he was, but then I thought maybe I'm projecting because I read too much M/M romance. But was he?

    Things like Constanza rejecting her physical body to embrace godliness. Which, ew, by the way. Blanche's birth.

    How they treated legit medical conditions.

    Ok, here's why it's not a full 5 star read for me. The religion side of this, while I learned a lot from it, bordered on fantasy for me. I could literally feel myself tuning out when Katherine was paying penance, and through every reference to God. There was a lot of that, for me.

    And also, you just

    , even before she admitted to it, that had Blanche not

    , Katherine would have carried on

    I just felt that the whole phase was unnecessary. But it was a small thing.

    The Afterword. I felt like that 1 page could have been a whole other book? Or even just more chapters? Is it just me? All the time had been taken to weave a gorgeous, multifaceted story, and days of my life were spent enthralled in this other world, and then suddenly it was like

    I wasn't ready!

    Ok, so I didn't love every page, but the story was rich and layered and colourful, divine in the development of it's characters, and heartbreaking because these people all existed, and I'm having a hard time letting it go. I finished this book on Thursday (so, 4 days ago) and I haven't been more than 2 chapters into any other book since.

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  • Richard Derus

    Rating: 2.75* of five

    : Since this is a resurrected review, I'm putting the Amazon book description here:

    “This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edw

    Rating: 2.75* of five

    : Since this is a resurrected review, I'm putting the Amazon book description here:

    “This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II—who ruled despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king’s son, falls passionately in love with the already married Katherine. Their well-documented affair and love persist through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption. This epic novel of conflict, cruelty, and untamable love has become a classic since its first publication in 1954.”

    : Whoo baby! And we thought our generation invented sex, lust, and lechery! Our mamas read this paean to the ripped bodice and flung codpiece with, I feel morally certain, cool detachment and a keen analytical eye for its prosody. Because our

    didn't *ever* think about s-e-x or l-u-s-t, now did they, because that would be ewww.

    Well ha ha ha on us. This story of lusty Katherine the Flemish wench, sister-in-law of Chaucer and lover of a Royal Duke, wife of a stunningly boring man who just ups and dies (most handily) one day, and mother of something like six or seven kids (now doesn't that make your baby-maker sore just thinkin' about it?) was about as close to one-handed reading for girls as things got in 1954.

    Not being a girl, I had a few problems with it. Crotch-fog did not obscure my vision of the novel as told tale. And there are some things that don't work about it. First is the Romance, the zeal of the organs for their mates, between Duke and minor court lady. It's not a romance, it's his dukeliness wantin' him a piece and Katherine, no dope, trottin' right along with the program. He's ROYAL! What kind of stupid wench says no to a ROYAL in that day and time?! He turns out to be my-t-fine in the sack, bonus!, but he is busy as hell plotting and scheming and what-all, plus he's got a political marriage to contend with, and he and Katherine raise his kids by his first wife, her kids, and their kids in a kind of modern blended family. It is this central fact that makes Katherine important: She did not marry the Duke until they were old, but her four surviving kids by him are...listen carefully, this is true and it's amazing...the direct ancestors of ALL SUCCEEDING ENGLISH ROYALS TO THIS GOOD DAY.

    Here's one of the problems: Which story is Seton telling, the one-handed one or the historically astoundingly important one? It's never all that clear. And it's not unclear because the book is too short, because this damned thing is almost 600pp! (Ow.) It's not clear because Seton isn't clear in her mind what she's doing here. She's got two good plots and switches back and forth between them, which makes the book feel patched together.

    Another issue obscured by the anticipation felt by lubricious readers of an earlier time is the book's clunky prose. This is La Seton describing Katherine, in her youthful innocence, meeting her future baby-daddy's first wife:

    That is the narrator, laddies and gentlewomen. The Narrator speaks in this breathlessly leaden, numbingly enthusiastic way from giddy-up to whoa. I won't go into what she has the lovers say to each other.

    So don't go into this expecting new and exciting prose experiments, and don't go expecting a clearly defined plot. Do, however, go expecting the story to suck you right in and sweep you along, and do go expecting to keep your pillow-sharer awake from the fanning of turning pages. Repress your snorts of outrage at some of Seton's more moistly written passages, overlook some of her wrong-headed guesses at what filled the spaces in Katherine's historical record, and this could be a decent read.

    For me, the seams itched and the sleeves were too short and the zipper caught me in a painful and distracting way. I say it's spinach salad, and I say to Limbo with it. (Not quite spinach and hell like the old cartoon. Guess you hadda be there. Sounded funnier in my head.)

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