Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the classic romance Katherine 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.
©1954, renewed 1982 Anya Seton Chase (P)2011 Tantor
"Seton breathes life into this little-documented historical fact… a glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense." (The Austin Chronicle)
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
The Katherine of the title is Katherine Swynford (1350-1403), an important figure in English history as she is the ancestress of many royal figures, and also, incidentally, sister-in-law to Geoffrey Chaucer, who married her sister Philippa. There are few known facts about what kind of woman Katherine was, which gave Seton plenty of leeway to turn her into a beautiful, strong-willed woman. Married off at a young age to a knight she actively disliked, she nonetheless caught the eye of John of Gaunt, of the House of Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the third son of King Edward III. They were lovers over a great number of years and had 4 bastard children, named Beaufort, and eventually married in 1396, three years before the passing of the duke. While their relationship is at the heart of the novel, it is much more than a romance novel, as Seton did a wonderful job of bringing the 14th century vividly to life with rich detail, and putting the story firmly in the context of important historical events. Strongly recommended for fans of historical fiction and solid narration by Wanda McCaddon, aka Nadia May.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
Katherine is not just a love story set in a historical setting, the love affair between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt lasted decades and changed the course of European history. The two became the ancestors of the Tudor line of England and the forebears of many other significant European rulers and historical figures. Seton meticulously researched this book and pieced together a biography of Katherine Swynford that not only accurately documents a fascinating period of time - the end of the Plantagenet rule in England - but sucks the reader into a love affair that changed history.
I have loved this book for so long so perhaps no narrator could quite measure up to my expectations of what it deserves on audio. However, I was a bit disappointed in Wanda McCaddon. This book is very focused on Katherine's long love affair with John of Gaunt, but it is a serious piece of historical fiction and I didn't think that McCaddon's rather melodramatic delivery quite did it justice. However, McCaddon is easy to understand and this is a great book so overall, the narration was acceptable.
One of the greatest love stories of all time - highly recommended!
Sometimes I avoid old classics due to fear that I will be disappointed when I finally do read or listen to them. This rarely happens. In the case of this novel, I had the impression that it was written for young people. It wasn't until I read a review of a modern historical novel about Katherine Swynford in which the reviewer stated that Seton's Katherine was still the definitive novel written about Swynford.
I had always thought of Katherine Swynford as the Duchess of Lancaster, mother to kings. I imagined her as having high status in the court of Edward III. I was completely wrong. (Well, almost completely.)
In fact, the Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt), though the son of Edward III, attained the title due to his first wife - Blanche of Lancaster. Katherine was married to another knight, Hugh Swynford. Katherine and the Duke apparently began to fall in love while both of them were married to their first spouses. When Blanche died, the two of them acknowledged their feelings but held back until Hugh died. At this point the Duke had three children (?) and Katherine had two, the first, a daughter, named Blanche after the Duchess.
The two became lovers despite the fact that the Duke planned to marry Princess Constanza of Castile. Over several years, the two had four children, who were given the surname Beaufort. When Katherine and all their children were at the Savoy Palace, Richard was called away to battle overseas. The plan was for Katherine and the children to follow him to Orleans.
Unfortunately, Katherine and her oldest daughter were unable to leave with the rest of the family. During this time, a peasants' revolt, called the rising, ended with the deaths of many of the nobility and the utter destruction of the Savoy. Catherine and her daughter became separated.
These events drove Katherine into religious fanatacism. Eventually she found peace and returned to the Swynford manor home, where she lived with her children. Various events kept John and Katherine separate, until they finally married and their children legitimized, By this time her children and his were grown. One of her daughters, named Joan, married Ralph Neville, a nobleman who couldn't marry her before due to her bastard status.. Her daughter, Cecily Neville, married Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York.
Of John of Gaunt's three wives, were born three different royal dynasties: Blanche's son Henry, became Henry IV. Constanza's daughter, Catalina, married the Prince of Castile, and Katherine's descendants not only included Edward IV (York) but Henry Tudor (Lancaster - through Margaret Beaufort). Those representatives of the Red and White Roses were combined through marriage into the Tudor dynasty.
Even though this is a lot of information, I am only skimming the surface of this comprehesive, engrossing work.
I very, very highly recommend it.
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Great reader. The book kept my attention. However, thought I purchased a historical novel and romance not exactly my thing.
Great read for those who do want a romance.
This is one of my favourite books, so I would recommend READING it, but the audio version was a big letdown.
One of my favourite scenes is when Katherine attends Blanche as she is dying.
The quality of the performance was very uneven. At times I wondered if there were several different narrators. Sometimes it was barely tolerable.
The singing! God awful!
Cannot keep up with all the boring characters. Has the potential to be good but never even came close.
Also China Miéville, Peter Hamilton, good space-opera, No Zombies, Apocalypses, Women who sigh and go weak at the knees when seeing a man!
At which time the novel does a disservice to her readers by simply ending the book.
I have to say I was disappointed that I was plowing along through Katherine, enjoying the level of detail the research and good writing both of which went into this story, which is based in much history and some historical fictionalization, when boom, the writer simply wrapped up everything in 10min. She told the story of the future of Katherine's life and death and that was that.
After reading so much I felt a bit bitter. I would have preferred to have lived the rest of her life with Kathleen but at least she was left in the happiest place possible. I knocked off a star for the abrupt ending.
I have been an avid Audible listener for several years and have listened to hundred of books and have never written a review. This will go down as one of my favorite of all times! A beautiful novel, wonderfully written. I am terribly sad it is over! If your a fan of books such as Pillars of the Earth where characters bewitch you and leave an imprint on your heart, this book is certainly for you.
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