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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid portrayal of love and politics in medieval England
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...
Published on 5 Feb 2002 by Sarah Allen

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story. Appalling editing.
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...
Published 7 months ago by Paul M Thomson


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story. Appalling editing., 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Katherine (Kindle Edition)
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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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid portrayal of love and politics in medieval England, 5 Feb 2002
By 
Sarah Allen "Sassafras" (Wedmore, Somerset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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113 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great medieval love story, 6 Dec 1998
By A Customer
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still love it, 8 Feb 2008
By 
This review is from: Katherine (Paperback)
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 'Faction' Book, 25 May 2009
By 
A. Cassell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Katherine (Paperback)
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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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History & Romance, 24 May 2005
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition really bad!, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Katherine (Kindle Edition)
I have a hard copy of this book which I have read many times and has become very dog-eared, hence the purchase of a Kindle edition. The Kindle edition I have purchased is full of 'typos', spelling and grammatical errors, (practically on every third page minimum!). This appeared to have been typed by someone who didn't have much idea of the English Language and was certainly never proof read. I really think I should have my money back for this, is isn't fit to be sent out as a book! A huge disappointment.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAPTIVATING, 14 May 2006
By 
N. Bishop "Nicola" (lincoln, england) - See all my reviews
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Katherine shows anya seton as the billiant writer she is.You will fall in love with this book, with Katherine & with John o' Gaunt. Put it down if you can! A wonderfull love story, the love story to beat all others, although this story is hundreds of years old you are there with Katherine, through all her pain, misery, happiness & triumph, a truly amazing book about a truly amazing woman. I live in Lincoln & often find myself going to visit her tomb in Lincoln Cathedral, where her son Henry Beaufort was Bishop. You will read it time & again
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate smart historical novel, 25 Mar 2008
By 
Morena - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Katherine (Paperback)
From the very first page, Katherine is suffused with detail about the sights, smells and sounds of the fourteenth century. And not just court life - the novel covers miserable little villages, out-of-the-way convents, merchants' houses, bustling streets and bubonic plague, not to mention the Peasants' Revolt which dominates the latter half of the novel . Glossy soap-style 'bonkbuster' history this is not. It never gets bogged down in description though - it's so readable that you don't even notice how much you're taking in as the medieval world springs up around you.

Every character is memorable, and I love the (historically justified) inclusion of one Geoffrey Chaucer, Katherine's brother-in-law. I felt that unlike some historical novelists, Anya Seton got under the skin of her characters in the context of the times they lived in, their culture and values, hobbies and spirituality, instead of just having 20th century characters in period costume (although it has been said that she exaggerated the stigma of bastardy, coming at it from a 1950s viewpoint whereas in medieval times there wasn't much shame at all in being a royal bastard).

Katherine's character starts off at age 15 fresh-faced and eager for life beyond the convent walls, develops, by necessity, a core of steel, and after a period of luxury and comfort is shaken to the core and eventually finds redemption (OK, I know that was the cheesiest sentence ever!).

Although the novel is billed as "the most glorious and romantic love story ever told", I thought the most interesting relationship was not that between Katherine and her Duke, but rather that between Katherine and her eldest daughter Blanchette, who is already a teenager by the time Katherine reaches 30. Anya Seton must have experienced some mother-daughter conflict of her own, or perhaps she is simply that sensitive a writer, because the relationship between them is really well-drawn; tender, frustrated and explosive - and pivotal to the plot in the last few chapters. To me, it was this plotline rather than the John of Gaunt affair that made Katherine such a rewarding read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful love story, 13 Sep 2009
By 
K. Vrijburg-liebenberg "Ordinary citizen" (Almere, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Katherine (Paperback)
First read this book as a teenager and loved it! The amount of research Anya Seton puts into her research is astounding, but thank heavens she does - through her books history becomes accessible to the ordinary citizen. In this way people and their life stories live on forever, which is a very comforting thought for everyday people like myself! This book makes you feel like you ARE Katherine, breathing good old 14th century air...
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Katherine
Katherine by Anya Seton (Paperback - 13 Mar 2006)
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