©2007 Alison Weir; (P)2007 Recorded Books LLC
I thoroughly agree with this author's love for the book "Katherine" and I was hoping to find out a lot more about Katherine Swynford from this bio.
Sadly, I was unable to stick it out for the entire book, as I soon became bogged down in the mind numbing details such as the origin of her last name, which seems to go on for many pages, or endless review of her genealogy. A little of this is fascinating, a lot is very distancing, there was no sense of the actual person behind all of those facts.
I may go back again and try to make it all the way through, I do admire the writer for doing all of that research.
Over all this is a good book. It is loaded with facts. It does bog down with a minutiae of dates and spellings at times, which does detract from the story. It is a book that is better read than listened to.
I can read some pretty stultifying history-- I eat Gibbon for breakfast-- but this book takes the gold medal. Do I really need to know where John of Gaunt was between August and September of 1369; given that we have NO IDEA what he did there? Or what the (spurious) modern-day value of every single payment made to Chaucer's wife is? The book amounts to a raw distillation of every fact and detail that can be found in the archives on Katherine, her husband, in-laws and children. The fact is, Katherine left behind very little biographical data, but instead of telling us about the interesting events of her more well-documented contemporaries and descendants, we are subjected to every iota of extant information about this obscure personage. I'm sure the source material would make much more exciting reading!
I struggled to finish the book, which should have been entitled "John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford: Their times and the buildings they inhabited." If you were to delete all of the detailed descriptions of the architecture of the buildings associated with them, and the words "may have" could have," might possibly have," and similar words of speculation about Katherine, it would be a very short book. No matter how much someone may want to write a biography of a historical figure, if almost nothing is known about her, it is inappropriate to categorize a book about the people close to her, and buildings and events of the period in which she lived, as a biography of her. Very disappointing.
This book is basically a history book in historical form. Dates, places, names. The information hasn't been woven into a historical story, but was left to the dull historical facts. Judith Boyd is a wonderful narrator and is the only reason I got through the first 3 hours. I have purchased SEVERAL books in this time era and this has to be the most boring of all that I have had the misfortune to listen to.
Both needed an editor to cut sections.
Read this book after Anya Seton's "Katherine" so that the historical inaccuracies of Ms. Seton's book doesn't bother you.
One thing I did like about the book is that it explained the fall of Richard II and the rise of Henry IV
Ms. Weir went on tangents that didn't really belong in the book or may have been better in an appendix.
It was too detailed by all most covering every moment and not enough of the feelings of everyone.
"A great book if you like historical detail"
I am a little surprised by the negative reviews for this book. It is my 3rd Alison Weir and I liked it immensely. It was rich in detail but never boring. I was fascinated by the unfolding relationship between Katherine and John. It also filled many holes in my knowledge about John of Gaunt; my main impression being based on the Shakespeare speech in Richard II about this sceptered isle. I enjoyed it so much, I am going to spend my next credit on Isabella, she-wolf of France. I also liked the reader, who did not rush it - so I was able to absorb the details and get a fuller picture.
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