In 1631 Elizabeth Winthrop, newly widowed with an infant daughter, set sail for the New World. Against a background of rigidity and conformity she dared to befriend Anne Hutchinson at the moment of her banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony; dared to challenge a determined army captain bent on the massacre of her friends, the Siwanoy Indians; and, above all, dared to love a man as her heart and her whole being commanded. And so, as a response to this almost unmatched courage and vitality, Governor John Winthrop came to refer to this woman in the historical records of the time as his "unregenerate niece".
Anya Seton's riveting historical novel portrays the fortitude, humiliation, and ultimate triumph of the Winthrop woman, who believed in a concept of happiness transcending that of her own day.
©1958 Anya Seton Chase (P)2014 Tantor Media
"The Winthrop Woman is that rare literary accomplishment-living history. Really good fictionalized history [like this] often gives closer reality to a period than do factual records." (Chicago Tribune )
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
Anya Seton's historical fiction seems to age very well. I read Green Darkness many years ago and it remains one of my all time favorites, in my favorite genre. I listened to Katherine several years back and became impressed with Ms. Seton's talent once again.
The Winthrop woman tells the story of Elizabeth Winthrop, the daughter-in-law/niece of John Winthrop, a strict Puritan and a founding governor of the Massachusetts Colony in the first half of the 17th Century. While Elizabeth actually existed, and due to her relationship to John Winthrop whose life was well documented, we know many of the "facts" of her life - her parentage, her move to the new world, her marriages - we don't have the knowledge of the details of her life like we do Elizabeth I or Marie Antoinette. In many ways she was a "nobody" and the details of their lives seldom survive. But somehow, in a time when women were definitely "background" and men made history, there are a few incidences in her life that stood out at the time and have survived. These set her apart from the thousands of faceless women who lived her same life.
Ms. Seton took the few facts at hand and built a readable romance novel. If that is all it was, I would say this was an adequate book. But she then added layers of facts about the time Elizabeth lived and the larger than life historical figures she knew and created a strong work of historical fiction. She breathed life and sympathy into historical figures that are typically seen as caricatures or cardboard cutouts of real people. Especially John Winthrop. She made a man historically portrayed as cold and unlikeable, into a man with flaws who constantly doubted himself and struggled to live the life he preached. We will never know how accurate her interpretation of the man was, but by making him more human, it mad me more curious to learn more of the truth about the man. This is what elevated my overall rating of the book.
Elizabeth Winthrop lived and survived in a critical period of history. The mere fact that she survived and thrived an adventure that most who attempted it did not, makes her worthy of remembering. The fact that as a woman of the time, she was visible and vocal enough that her name was written down and her life remembered at all, makes this book worth reading.
The narrator did an excellent job.
This book has everything you could ever want in an epic novel. It contains historical fact Prada live by irresistible characters. You will fall in love with the main character, Elizabeth, who endures all kinds of adventures and challenges throughout her life. There is love, jealousy, heartbreak, joy, and everything in between. Clearly, one of the best books I've ever read. I can't wait to read / listen to another book from this author.
After enjoying my listening experience so much after a few chapters, I actually looked up this book to buy a paper copy to add to my collection. I was flabbergasted to find it was written in the 50s. It is so well written and researched (with maybe a couple of surprising period references to the Indians) that it seems a modern book. Highly recommended. The performance was first rate. Her elegant manner and multiple dialects suit each character.
I love Anya Seton and this is just another example of her epic story telling abilities. The narrator did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the novel! Great read or listen!
Written in 1958, some aspects of The Winthrop Woman show poor description and portrayal of the native people and slaves. These incidences are fairly rare, but they are there.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book and referred to maps to place the towns and settlements. Hallet's land near Hellgate is ugly and city now, but the area must have been beautiful once. The same for Elizabeth's Neck. A lot of it is parking lot now, but the white sands remain.
craft crazy cindy
An amazing story of a person who continued to grow and learn and change right up to the end, just as real people do. So often the characters stay consistent throughout and then feel flat since real people change. Plus this an error I knew less about, after the Pilgrims but still more than 100 before we became the US. How we ever became religiously tolerant, or at least continue the struggle to be such, is amazing after hearing the very restrictive environment that the characters lived in! I appreciate more the struggle it was to create this country.
I love comedy and humor books!
Elizabeth Winthrop Feake was my 9th generation great grandmother, through Hannah Feake Bowne and John Bowne. My mother often told me about our family history, including, bownehouse.org, where the Bowne house is now a historical site in Flushing, Queens, NY. Also, a Quaker meeting house is there, and a variety old trees in the area. You can learn a lot of rich history that often is left out in school.
I found this book especially interesting. I tried to read the hard copy book a few years ago, but, I'm not much of a reader. The audiobook kept me interested and engaged the whole time. It's important to also hear about women in history. Also, to get more of the raw and not always pretty truths of America, like the political struggles, power struggles, land grabs, injustices, etc.
I saw Hamilton on Broadway, but, this book told me a lot more about early American history.
mesmerizingly satisfying reading!
Katherine, supreme character development, comparable to Tolstoy's writing.
her diction and ability to imitate the make characters without being offensive
Ms. Winthrop, I would imagine her spirit of independence and unwillingness to be a "follower" is appealing and admirable.
I couldn't take my earphones off. Drove my husband crazy. I actually enjoyed cleaning my house while listening!
Yes, it was a really good book. The historical details were well researched and thorough and performances were good.
The historical aspects. I learned a lot about Puritan New England. Many of the characters were real people so you can research them and see how the book compared to real life.
I read and re-read all of Anya Seton's books years ago but had not read this one. Even though it was written in the 1950's, I think, it didn't seem dated at all. Great historical fiction. I was so interested, I even looked up many of the characters to see what became of them in real life.
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