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Katherine (1954)

by Anya Seton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,797844,345 (4.16)278
This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history-- that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story 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.… (more)
  1. 41
    The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease (myshelves)
    myshelves: Set in the same historical period, showing some of the same events from another viewpoint.
  2. 10
    Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster by Alison Weir (avalon_today)
  3. 10
    Désirée by Annemarie Selinko (myshelves, lanaing)
    myshelves: Historical novel with a good dose of romance; the story of the girl Napoleon jilted.
  4. 10
    Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (jhowell)
  5. 10
    Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman (avalon_today)
    avalon_today: Maybe not so much of a romance novel. But still a few tears were shed.
  6. 00
    The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton (DeltaQueen50)
    DeltaQueen50: Although this book covers a different time period, it is written by the same author and has her great attention to detail, authentic historical facts and a wonderful story.
  7. 11
    The King's Grey Mare by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (feeling.is.first)
    feeling.is.first: splendid historical fiction about the Lancastrian kings, medieval pageantry with a human touch
  8. 00
    Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard (avalon_today)
    avalon_today: Its about love that is fated with danger in the fourteenths century
  9. 23
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (avalon_today)
    avalon_today: Its about having to deal with a very strong, charismatic man. *Sigh*
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» See also 278 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
It is important to say up front that I am a sucker for good historical fiction. I like knowing that these people existed, that these events are part of the human record, that no one can know what these people actually thought or felt, but that this is one possible scenario that fits all the historical information. What is sure is that some things about people do not change with the exchange of horses for automobiles and kings for ego-driven politicians and that it is our ability to find common grounds in our feelings that make us relate to history so viscerally.

Having laid my prejudice for this genre on the table, I wish to say Anya Seton excels at what she does. I was completely invested in Katherine and John of Gaunt as historical characters and as individual people. It took quite a lot to survive in the sphere of the royal house in the 1300s and it is fascinating that these two persons so far down in the line of succession would be the grandfather and grandmother of a bevy of future kings and queens, including the Tutors.

It has been a long time since I have stayed up until 2:00 in the morning because I could not wait until the next day to finish a novel. I could not bear to leave John and Katherine hanging on the edge of finishing their story. I didn’t want to break the flow of the narrative and when I was done I was not ready to let go of these characters at all. I hope the real Katherine Swynford was half as strong and resilient as this novel heroine; I hope John was as handsome and charming and torn as this John. I hope they did experience a love that transcended common understanding. They broke the rules of their time. He lifted her to his station. There was a reason for that, that only a great love could explain. We all have heartbreak and tragedy, but not all of us have a love that makes that tragedy a footnote.

I have marked all Seton’s novels to read. I hope I enjoy them all this much.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Marvelous! ( )
  Carmentalie | Jun 4, 2022 |
Beautifully written…. ( )
  Chandna_Agarwal | Apr 8, 2022 |
I did enjoy this book as a read, but there were just some parts of it that left me questioning, mostly as a result of the structure of the book. I think her writing is strong, but there were times where I needed to go back a few pages to connect actions because of how much description there was. This isn’t usually a problem for me, but since it is a fiction book, part of me usually expects a little less description. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
Although there is a good story and romance in here, it is somewhat lost in a haze of other stories and historical events. I felt overwhelmed by how much Seton crammed into it and also by my own general confusion over the Wars of the Roses and which person was which and who was related to who. Katherine is the through line of this and her life is interesting but she seems less of an interesting character, she mainly is buffeted around by events and the great event of her life is the romance with John. I know it is meant to be a great love match but Seton doesn't really develop it and it feels more like passionate but at times petulant teens more than grown adults. I was thoroughly drawn into the 14th century world but I think a few chunks could have safely been removed without much loss.
  amyem58 | May 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anya Setonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bishop, DianaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gregory, PhilippaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the tender green time of April, Katherine set forth at last upon her journey with two nuns and the royal messenger.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history-- that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story 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.

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An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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