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Katherine Paperback – May 1 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155652532X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525322
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #223,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“Seton breathes life into this little-documented historical fact…a glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense.” -- The Austin Chronicle

From the Back Cover

A glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense: exhilarating, exuberant, and rich with the jeweled tones of England in the 1300s. "Austin Chronicle""Katherine "is an epic novel of a 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 fourteenth 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 rule 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 affair persists through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption. Anya Seton's vivid rendering of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Lancaster makes "Katherine "an unmistakable classic. Anya Seton (1904 1990) was the author of many best-selling historical novels, including The Winthrop Woman, Avalon, Dragonwyck, Green Darkness, Devil Water, and Foxfire. She lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. " --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written over half a century ago, this well-researched historical fiction is as vibrant and as stirring today, as it, undoubtedly, was when it was first written. It regales the reader with the story of Katherine De Roet and John of Gaunt. Beautifully written, it tells the story of Katherine, the youngest daughter of a herald who was knighted before he died.

Born commoners, Katherine and her older sister Philippa, who went on to marry Geoffrey Chaucer, were left poor as church mice. While Philippa managed to obtain a post in the household of the Queen, wife to King Edward III, Katherine went to a convent where she grew up.

When she had grown into her early teens and become a raving beauty, she left the convent to join her sister at Court. Upon doing so, her youthful beauty captivated a boorish knight, Sir Hugh Swynford, who lusted after her. He, eventually, married Katherine, when it became clear that it would be the only way by which he could satisfy his desire.

At the same time that she met her husband to be, she also caught the eye of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III and brother to the heir to the throne, Edward, the Black Prince. John was, at the time, happily married to a beautiful woman named Blanche, who would befriend Katherine.

After reluctantly becoming Lady Swynford, Katherine retired to her husband's estates. She would meet John of Gaunt again, igniting a passion that upon the death of Blanche and that of Sir Hugh Swynford would be consummated. For John of Gaunt, Katherine would remain the love of his life and his mistress, even though for reasons of state, he could not marry her, at the time. He, instead, married the heiress to the throne of Castile.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since I've worked a shift at my job exhausted because a particular book I'm reading has had me stay up later than I should be. "Katherine" certainly fits that bill. The characters are so well developed and the story line flows smoothly. I'm not even finished reading this novel but I felt compelled to share my love for this great story.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was 13, I had no use for history - just a boring bunch of meaningless facts and dates. Then I read this book. I recently got my MA in history all thanks to this book. When I read Chaucer, I thought of how he was portrayed (He was Katherine's brother-in-law). I grasped English history and Shakespear's plays because John of Gaunt as portrayed by Anya Seton was my touchstone for the history of the period. Of course, my liking for history began with loving the book. I read it several times. Looking back, some of the attitudes are dated; I can pick out little flaws, but why bother? This is a wonderful book to make the middle ages come alive plus the romance is incredible because it's a true story! It's a story no fiction writer would dare to invent!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best historical fiction work ever written! Gives an excellent picture of life in the 14th century even if more recent research has given a bit more information about the life of Katherine Swinford than was available when Anya Seton wrote this.
An excellent follow up about Katherine is Alison Weir's "Mistress of the Monarchy", which was inspired by Anya Seton's novel and includes more recent research into her life, much of which comes from the archives of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
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Format: Paperback
This book is more than just a good romance. It is an all-time classic. I am a younger reader, and so I don't have fond memories of the first time this book came out; but I'm glad that they brought Katherine back into print. It is one of those books that all lovers of historical fiction should read, not simply for the history, but because this is an elegantly crafted novel; unarguably one of the very best I've read in a long time.
The story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt is set against a backdrop of chivalry and heroic adventure during the 14th century. I thoroughly loved this novel; there are parts of it that still stay with me two months after reading it. Whenever I read historical fiction, I always look to see whether the author has done her research- Anya Seton most definitely did hers.
I decided it doesn't matter whether or not you love the heroes of this book- they were real people, and that's what makes this book so much more vibrant. Thats what I loved most- I felt that I actually knew these characters, had actually sat down at a meal with Katherine Swynford or gone hunting with Prince John. The author Geoffrey Chaucer has become mythical in the annals of English literature; however here he becomes humanized, a real person with a wife and children of his own. I was absolutely amazed by it.
Another great thing about this book is that the author never mentions what will happen in the future for these people (even though she, and the reader, obviously know). Anya Seton simply let the story take itself along. For example, at the end of Katherine, Richard III is a little boy, newly crowned king. Even though we know he was a tyrant, Seton never lets on that this is what, in fact, he will become. Richard seems like a lost, lonely little boy trying to fill shoes that are too big for him.
Shame on the publishers for letting Katherine go out of print for so long. It is a book that should be read over and over again.
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