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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 listeners say about The Winthrop Woman

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.

76 people found this 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.

27 people found this helpful

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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.

17 people found this helpful

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good but slow

it was slow to start but I was pulled in by the time I was on chapter 12. overall it was a great story but not very steamy.

7 people found this helpful

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Let's just say... I was ready for it to end...

I listened to Katherine by Anya Seton and loved it. I did like The Winthrop Woman...to a certain point. As a history person, I really enjoyed reading about life in colonial New England in the mid 1600s. It was very fascinating and the level of detail was fantastic. It just that the book just sort of drug on and on and SPOILER ALERT (though its not really)..by the time it was time for Elizabeth to shuttle off this mortal coil..I was ready for it! lol. But hats off to Anya Seton for the level of research she puts into all of her books.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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A little too long

I felt the plot wasn’t interesting enough to be this long of a listen. Also, I didn’t really like the main character as much as I thought I would. I’m not saying you have to like the lead in order for a book to be good, but at least make them interesting. This book had neither unfortunately.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Story, though not her best

I'm a huge fan of Anya Setons works, especially Green Darkness and Katherine. There were a few factual errors in this one, likely down to information available now which wasn't accessible in the 50's, but it made this book just slightly less enjoyable than the others. Still a wonderful story with captivating characters and good narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully tragic story

Absolutely tragic and beautiful story. Narrator is extremely talented and very engaging. At times I was angry by the constant strife and tumultuous circumstances Bess encounters but the ending is exactly as it should be. She is finally filled with the light her heart was unknowingly seeking. Read it and you’ll understand.

2 people found this 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!

5 people found this helpful