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4.6 out of 5 stars307
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 February 2002
I have just re-read this book for the third time,having fallen in love with it many years ago in my early teens.Anya Seton's characterisation of the people thronging this book is its main strength, but the historical research places it firmly in its period and really brings those times to vivid life for the reader, without being stuffy or worthy. Anya Seton draws the reader into the medieval world of England as it really must have been, describing life for the rich and poor, and those in between, in a way that is completely credible. Katherine's story is amazing and uplifting, and of course the fact that it is true makes it all the more entrancing. If you believe in 'love conquers all' and enjoy stories set in the past, this is the novel for you. A real page-turner that will make you wish you had a time machine to travel back to Katherine's era. I can't recommend the novel highly enough!
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on 28 March 2014
I have been reading my books on Kindle for some years, but have never felt the need to write a review until now. I have loved this book for over 45 years and have read it over and over again with such enjoyment, so I was delighted to see that it was finally released on Kindle. Even after all these years the story is still compelling. The historical details bring the past to life in wonderful detail, and I have always had a real soft spot for John of Gaunt who I believe has been very badly treated by history. I could go on and on about all the reasons I love this book. But - (and yes I do know one shouldn't start a sentence with a but). ........ The quality of editing is truly appalling and it is so chock full of mis-spellings that it becomes a distraction from the story. Anya Seton wrote in beautiful, carefully crafted English, every word given weight and consideration, and the rich use of vocabulary is a joy. To find that this has been destroyed by typical 21st century shoddy carelessness is very upsetting. In this day and age, it isn't difficult to ensure text is copied accurately. So shame on whoever the editor was. You don't deserve your job, and you have ruined a truly wonderful book. Kindle -you really need to have this re-edited and re-released to us very quickly. By the way -sack the editor too!!
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on 6 December 1998
Katherine de Roet, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, through her children by John is the ancestress of just about every Royal English line - Plantagenets, Tudors and Stuarts. I first read this book when I was in my early teens and am still reading it 40 years later. Jewel bright in its descriptions, it takes the reader through turbulent times in the 14th century. So much we can never know, but it seems that the affair between Katherine and John was a great love story - they eventually married. It inspired me to visit her tomb in Lincoln Cathedral and the little Lincolnshire village of Kettlethorpe where she once lived. Was she as beautiful as the book implies? I would have loved to have met her.
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on 3 September 2014
Please understand, fans of the book, that this is a review of the Kindle version. I loved the book when I first read it over 15 years ago.

When I checked back on this page and found there was a Kindle version, I had to get it. So I start reading and for about the first 30 pages, there really doesn't seem to be that many errors. But then the errors start cropping up all over the place the further you go. It's as if the person typing the book in Kindle format was very very careful at the start, but then didn't really care or check to read what they'd just typed.

For example, you will probably come across a lot of "bis" and "die". They're supposed to read "his" and "the". "Mass." doesn't mean Massachusetts obviously, and is a poorly typed "Mass". "Predousness" should be read "preciousness". "Surfdom" wouldn't really be appropriate in this medieval setting. "Gold-powdered eurls" flummoxed me until I realised it was "curls".

What really got me though was "I was drowning and you - 8212" (location around 72% 7754/10723). I don't have a physical book copy so I can't quite tell you what it was supposed to be!

This really needs more proofreading. All these errors didn't quite ruin the experience of reading it again for me. But of course it did kind of ruin the mood.
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Anya Seton's Katherine is both a romance and an historical novel. It is the story of Katherine Sywnford (nee de Roet) and of course her romance with John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, from which union sprung the Beaufort line. The historical detail is good and characterisation is excellent. Some of the novel is seen from the view of Katherine's brother-in-law, Geoffrey Chaucer, and extracts of his poetry are used in chapter headings. Seton makes her characters sympathetic, but real. You can clearly see the attraction of the powerful John of Gaunt, but his faults not passed over and it is clear where the pride of the House of Beaufort came from! I found Seton's portrayal of Richard II to be quite unsympathetic, but this worked within the context of her story, so I shan't quibble too much as I did find this hard to put down once I got going!
The only thing I would really have liked would have been a bit more of an historical note at the end, in the style of Sharon Penman, giving a little more information on some of the characters and events. There is some of this in the introduction, for example on the existence of Blanchette, but I feel it would have been better at the end and enlarged on slightly. The only biography I have seen available on Katherine Swynford has been very short, and Seton says most of what we know of her is from where her life intersects with that of John of Gaunt, so I would be interested in knowing how Seton surmised other events she depicts, and her reasoning on decisions on the fate of Blanchette who has seemingly not been acknowledged by all historians.
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on 29 November 2007
First read in my twenties and, now in my seventies, it still holds a place in my heart. Has been re-read many times and passed on to friends. The fact that it appears so historically correct is one reason but the fascination lies in the characters of Katherine and John o'Gaunt. The book is so well written that the Reader becomes involved in their lives and times.
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on 25 May 2009
One of the best and most historically accurate 'faction' books I've read in a long time. Keeps your interest and attention throughout. You really get involved with all the characters but you'll find yourself rooting for some more then others. Could not put it down once I started reading it and when I finished found myself researching the historical people to see what actually happened to them in pages of history.
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on 1 November 2007
I love historical fiction and have a very high level of what I enjoy and this book didn't disappoint. This is the first book I have read by this author and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a great love story spread over many years. I felt that the descriptions of the characters and their emotions were very real and believable. I fell in love with Katherine and her story and would recommend this book highly.
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on 18 September 2014
like a previous reviewer i am rarely moved to complain. this edition has so many typos that it is almost spoiling one of my favourite books. i second the move to sack the editor and almost ready to ask for a refund.
that said, still love the story. for those who can, visit katherines grave in lincoln cathedral.
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on 8 February 2008
I recently read Alison Weir's excellent book about Katherine Swynford. It is meticulously researched, particularly bearing in mind the very little concrete information that exists about Katherine, and produces a fascinating portrait. It was, however, also hard to read because I have loved Anya Seton's novel since I was a teenager and unfortunately Alison Weir's book does expose some fairly irrefutible flaws in Seton's historical details. So, I was unsure when I picked up the novel again whether it would still hold the same charm for me, and am so pleased that it did. It's little like having one's eyes opened to the faults of a loved one - if they're worth it you still love them anyway - perhaps even more so. What is important for me is that the biography has done nothing to detract from the portrayal of the main characters - if anything it enhances, and as for accurate historical detail - well, this is a novel, and still a good one.
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