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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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 )

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Historical Fiction that Aged Very Well

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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This book has everything

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Wren
  • Texas
  • 02-22-16

Such unexpected EXCELLENCE

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Powerful story about a powerful woman

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it!

Would you listen to The Winthrop Woman again? Why?

Yes, it was a really good book. The historical details were well researched and thorough and performances were good.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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ending very disappointing

ending was flat. author ran out of energy and quickly finished the story. very disappointed

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Bored

Didn't even finish it. The storyline became boring. Kept waiting for it to be interesting.

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Anya Seton ar her best.<br />

A truly well researched historical novel. It had me going to the Internet to learn more about the history of new England. Beautifully read.

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Beautiful Book

Although the main character can be annoyingly melancholy, the vector of her hard life is a beautiful story. This is historical fiction at its best.

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My ancestor Elizabeth 'Bess' Fones Winthrop Feak H

Would you consider the audio edition of The Winthrop Woman to be better than the print version?

I would have a difficult time trying to read a novel anymore, so I cannot make a true comparison.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Of course, Bess ! She is a direct multi-great grandmother of mine via her Feake husband. I had been looking for a way to find this historical novel presented in a manner that I could listen to while going about my household activities. I am so thrilled to find all the facts of her life brought to life by this novel.

Which character – as performed by Corrie James – was your favorite?

Well, who couldn't love William Hallet ?

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It touched my heart. There were times I cried and times I laughed a bit. There were sometimes I felt disappointed in the characters' reactions. Mostly [being a genealogist] I was in awe of this ancestor's great - but very human - character. She makes me proud and more understanding.

Any additional comments?

I would still like to be able to find the old movie made from this novel.