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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

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If you like Philippa Gregory's novels, try this!

"Katherine," the story of Katherine Swynford, the mistress and eventual wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, is a glorious example of historical fiction. Intrinsically romantic, but firmly based on known history, "Katherine" throws light on a great love story that took place during the fascinating period in English history spanning the reigns of Edward III and Richard II. Ms. Seton is a wonderful writer and provides enough detail to allow you to feel a part of the Middle Ages, including the warmth of the nobles' ermine and glitter of the knights' gold-inlaid armor, as well as the reek of the pigyard just outside the castle keep. Moreover, she does not force her protagonists to voice overtly modern sentiments, which is such a common fault in historical novels written today. I'm willing to bet that some of our greatest new authors, like Philippa Gregory, have a treasured copy of "Katherine" in their bookshelves.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful the 2nd time around, forty years later!

"Katherine" was the first work of historical fiction that I ever read - when I was about 13 and I discovered it in my high school library. I absolutely adored it, and borrowed it so frequently that I don't think anyone else had a chance to read it! It was the beginning of a life long love affair with historical fiction, especially fiction set in the English royal courts and tinged with romance (though I'm not a " mass market historical romance" fan) .

A few years ago, I found the same hard cover version from my old library in a used book store and bought it, rereading it many times. And the older I get (I'm now 52), the more I appreciate this wonderful story of a love that survives the years.

So, I was delighted to find that "Katherine" is now available as an audio book. And it's terrific. Wanda does the story justice with a lovely reading. Immerse yourself in it, and be whisked back to 14th century England and a great story of politics, family, intrigue, and love. I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

46 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Caroline
  • Hollywood, SC, United States
  • 05-09-11

Left me wanting more Anya Seton

I almost didn't get this book because it was written in the 1950s and I was afraid it might be stuffy and dated, but I took a chance and was well rewarded. Excellent historical fiction; just right if you want some romance and a good story with your fiction but not the cheesy bad writing and predictability of a bodice-ripper. My only complaint is that there are no other Anya Seton books available on Audible. I would love to be able to listen to all of them.

33 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Nice balance of storyline with historical detail

If a reader is looking for a love story that is also a solid, interesting piece of history, I recommend this book. I found myself considering the tedious research that obviously went into writing this story, because the details are impressive. Four stars, only because (at times) the details were lengthy, but certainly not to the point of distraction. I really enjoyed listening to this book.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One of Seton's Best

This was one of the most interesting biographies I've read in a long time. Anya Setons is an excellent writer. What make this such a wonderful book is the in-depth research Mrs. Seton did in writing it.

I loved learning that Kathrine Swynford and John of Gauld's love affair and the birth of their illegitimate children were the beginning of the great Tudor dynasty.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Researched Historic Epic

What made the experience of listening to Katherine the most enjoyable?

A true tale told with life and knowledge.

What did you like best about this story?

well researched of a tumultous time in history

Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

McCaddon's nuanced reading brought each of the many complex characters to life.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Real lives of influence in influential times than shaped history and good love story to boot

Any additional comments?

I visited Katherine's grave in Lincoln and atop the marble effigy was the note, "This is the Katherine of Anya Seton's book Katherine." Seton researched the lives and times so well if you are studying British History this book will give you a wonderful context for understanding the tones and textures of Chaucer's England. (Chaucer was the brother in law of Katherine by the bye.)

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Romi
  • Los Angeles, CA USA
  • 09-11-12

Love after all...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would highly recommend this audiobook. Wanda McCaddon did an excellent job giving a voice to each character in the book. I started the story all over again when it ended. I have never done that with an audiobook before. I didnt want to leave that world.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked how Katherine accepted what her circumstances were in life and learned to live with them no matter how difficult.

Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

I liked Katherine and John. The story was about them so it wasn't hard to pick a favorite.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was not a book I wanted to listen to in one sitting. The material was very heavy at times and I wanted to drag it out so it wouldn't end too soon. I don't think this is something you listen to for light reading.

Any additional comments?

This is a lovely work of historical fiction, well read and worth listening to. I highly recommend this audiobook for anyone who enjoys history and romance joined together.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is my favorite book of all-time! I will listen again and again. If you like historical fiction, download this right now! You won't regret it.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Ilana
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 07-06-12

Historical Fiction at it's Best

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Pamela
  • BARRINGTON, RI, United States
  • 09-04-12

Very Detailed Historical Fiction

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I do enjoy historical fiction, but this one was very heavy on the details of the history of the period. I found my mind wandering and simply had trouble staying interested in all the details. I was more interested in Katherine and the other people in the story, but much of the book focused on the political and historical aspects of the time period. I am more interested in the personal side of the story.

What do you think your next listen will be?

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to any other books narrated by Wanda McCaddon. She was wonderful! I will definitely look for her as a narrator in the future.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The narration was terrific and it was well researched. It also made me interested in learning more about the lives of Katherine and the other main characters in the story.

Any additional comments?

While I didn't love this book, it was well written, well researched and well narrated. For lovers of historical fiction who like the emphasis to be on the history and not on the personal, this one is a winner!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful