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49 Reviews
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A contribution of value!
Theresa Tomlinson's review
Mar 24, 14 edit

4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book with some trepidation as Anya Seton's KATHERINE was the book that started me on a lifelong obsession with historical novels - and I have eventually ended up writing them myself. I didn't like the over glamorous cover design! At first I felt uncertain - the...
Published 4 months ago by Theresa Tomlinson

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Scandalous Duchess
I think any author writing a novel about Katherine Swynford has a hard row to hoe. The quintessential historical novel about this enigmatic and historically important lady has to be Anya Seton’s ‘Katherine’ and for many readers any other novels about her are going to be measured against this classic and found wanting. Unfortunately this new novel...
Published 5 months ago by Damaskcat


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4.0 out of 5 stars Anne O'Brien brings history alive.., 3 April 2014
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Petra "I love to read" "book addict!!!" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Scandalous Duchess (Paperback)
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The Scandalous Duchess written by Anne O'Brien for me was another good read from one of my favourite authors, for one main reason Anne brings historical figures alive and she certainly knows her historical facts while doing so.
For this particular book Anne used Lady Katherine Swynford as the main character as she fought her way from destitution but for her the gamble she was prepared to take was going to cost her so much more. I really enjoyed this book as Anne O'Brien knows how to take a historical figure while using historical facts but yet she brings history alive using descriptions so vivid I could see the scenes taking place while I read her words.
The year of the beginning of the book is 1372, Katherine is left destitute when she decides to present herself at the court of Prince John Plantagenet Duke of Lancaster, hoping this will be the answer to her money problems. But for Katherine she will soon realise when you make deals with the evil Prince John it was for her a deal with the devil and she will loose so much more than money can ever repay.
This is an excellent read which I thoroughly enjoyed and for me The Scandalous Duchess is a book which will please any fan of early history and one if you enjoy reading about the strong women of our past.
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5.0 out of 5 stars katherine swinford., 1 April 2014
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I have long been looking for another story about this lady and here it is,I can't wait to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read!, 31 Mar 2014
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I really enjoyed this! The characters were strong and believable. It was good to find someone sympathetic to John of Gaunt at last!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good for her for trying, 30 Mar 2014
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L. Tuplin "book monitor" (Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
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I think when you have a real classic like Anya Seton's Katherine it is a challenge to try and write your own version. This book is entertaining enough as are most of Anne O Brien's books. It doesn't compare with the Seton one in quality though and Alison Weir's version gives the known facts. Read it for entertainment, as it is passable for that.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An adequate book but ultimately disappointing., 27 Mar 2014
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Interesting detail but the language was a bit florid for my taste, and it made Katherine seem rather too submissive. The type face was really irritating: every time F and L were together there was a huge gap to the remainder of the word.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A MEDIEVAL LOVE STORY, 23 Mar 2014
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Exciting to start with, and then became a little tedious towards the end, probably because there were few facts referring to this couple. However, that John of Gaunt married Katharine after 25 years and caused his children by her
to be legitimised indicates that it was indeed a great love story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's interesting..., 17 Mar 2014
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Me read (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Scandalous Duchess (Paperback)
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I went into this not knowing the first thing about Katherine and John of Gaunt and found it interesting and since finishing it I've already checked the web for anything else I can find out about them, (John of Gaunt was a staggering seven feet tall!) It's been a while since I read any Historical romance so I was looking forward to this one.

It's a love story, obviously, but by the time I had reached half way I was beginning to dislike both Katherine and John, Katherine particularly. Her main qualities seemed to be indecisiveness, selfishness and jealousy. For all her faults I actually found myself a little sorry for John's Queen, Constanza. John was portrayed as a typical man (Duke) of the time and seemed quite self centered. The descriptions and the setting were very great and it was all very interesting...I just didn't like John or Katherine by the end.

It's a well told story and it was interesting to read, but I just didn't feel any emotion for the romance.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Anne O'Brien territory here, 24 Feb 2014
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joc66 (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Scandalous Duchess (Paperback)
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I've read most of Anne O'Brien's historical dramas, so was keen to read this one which focuses on Katherine Swynford, first mistress, then wife of John of Gaunt. This marriage will ultimately provide the foundation of the Tudor dynasty.It's classic historical romance territory too, with John of Gaunt appearing as the determined man who will not take no for an answer, and Katherine for a while holding on to her integrity before succumbing to his charms. I'd say that the emphasis is as much on fiction as history here, and as long as you are aware that this is what you are getting, then you won't be disappointed. I'd say that Anne O'Brien is one of the best writers of this sort of historical novel working at the moment. If you enjoy Philippa Gregory, then I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Scandalous Duchess, 3 Feb 2014
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catherine "Catherine" (poole, dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Scandalous Duchess (Paperback)
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Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt share one of the great love stories in British history.She was the long term mistress who John of Gaunt married, shocking King, Court & country,at a time when marriage was about alliance & advantage,and not romance.
The story has been told before,most notably by Anya Seaton in Katherine. This book is not,unfortunately Katherine.
The dialogue slips dangerously towards high camp on occasion, and the deft story telling of Miss O'Brien's earlier books is-for me- noticeably absent here.
It's a book that will pass the time,but certainly not remain on the keeper shelf.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's a swynner!, 24 Jan 2014
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Soo Broo (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Scandalous Duchess (Paperback)
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This is the second of Anne O'Brien's books I have reviewed and they both follow the same sort of format, as may be expected. This tells the story of Katherine Swynford and her 'association' with the the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt.

I actually thought this was better than the first book. It is a real page turner as long as you accept that is has been turned into a sort of romantic novel and isn't a work of pure history. I had a rough idea of the story and the main characters before I read it, but I did feel it captured something of the atmosphere of the time and the characters, especially Katherine , who was believeable and likeable. I thought it cracked on at a good pace and the story (being based on reality) flowed very nicely. The detail is rich and paints a good mental picture of life in the thirteenth century.

One slightly irritating habit the author has is, when a character is asked a question, we have a whole paragraph of their thoughts and feelings and analyses of said question before it's answered; I usually ran my eye down the page to skip those bits (which I felt didn't really add much to the narrative) for the answer. Just a little point, but it did interrupt the flow of reading somewhat.

On the whole, not bad if you want a decent romance in a historical setting. Good one for a holiday read.
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The Scandalous Duchess
The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O'Brien (Paperback - 7 Mar 2014)
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