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4.7 out of 5 stars
348
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 July 2015
If you are thinking of approaching this book as a historically accurate fiction novel on one of England's most famous love affairs, you will be utterly disappointed.

Very few things are known about Katherine De Roet, later Lady Swynford lover and then wife to the Duke of Lancaster, but not so few that the reader can accept the author's wild speculations unquestioningly. The Duke's first wife died in 1468, his grief was portrayed by Chaucer in the Book of the Duchess and his first son by Swynford was born in 1473, so no need to picture our Prince Charming laying hands on his future lover barely 4 days after interring his beloved consort. There is also no evidence that Katherine's first marriage was not just as happy as her lover's and second husband's first marriage, with no need to picture Sir Swynford as a fatty, hairy, rude rapist who proposes marriage only because he's caught in the act of assailing our maid by the Duke, let alone the allegations on his Thomas Becket-like death making way for our heroine's surrender to the Duke's passion.

The love story itself is overromanticised: our Duke is the perfect knight in shining armour (save for 10 years of blatant and very fruitful adultery), rescueing Katherine from evil every other chapter, scarcely remembering his royal duties and ambition when his lover is near. Katherine is the perfect Cinderella (again save for 10 years of adultery and 4 illegitimate children) eventually winning the prize of honourable marriage after renouncing her love for 15 years out of a sacred vow to the Virgin Mary instead of being sent away out of political necessity. Sometimes the descriptions are sooo sweet you think the pages will stick to your fingers. Other elements in the plot (Katherine's presence at the Savoy during the Peasants' revolt, her lonely pilgrimage to Walsingham, the turn of events related to Katherine's first legitimate daughter, etc.) make the story as unplausible as it is dramatic. One passage ends with Katherine feeling like she is treading on a mine field (mines? In the Middle Ages???)

However, if you leave your need for absolute accuracy aside and lose yourself in the detailed, lavish descriptions the author delivers in her beautiful rich writing, you will feel like looking at a live Medieval fresco, with characters moving in the landscape of an era that you will feel come to life, despite the several weak points of the narrative, making you at least want to know more and investigate further on both the historical period and its characters.
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on 30 March 2017
This book was a wonderful trip down Memory Lane for me as I had first read it
as a young girl in the sixties, who had been brought up with Jean Plaidy. I had never heard of Katherine Swynford but did wonder where the Beauforts fitted into history. I loved it then and I loved it just as much now. I still have the paperback but unfortunately, the print is too small to enjoy reading. Thank Goodness for Kindle. I recently read Anne O'Brien's "The Scandalous Duchess". A wonderful, beautifully written and well researched book. I didn't want to enjoy it as much as Miss. Seton's "Katherine" but I did. There are a few differences, but both books are definitely worth reading and should not be pitted against each other but read as stand alone books and enjoyed. Thanks to Kindle for letting me enjoy Anya Seton's book all over again.
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on 3 August 2017
I was recommended this book by a lady I met whilst waiting to see a doctor. She had moved to Lincolnshire and been fascinated by local history and as a result found this story extremely captivating. I too have been absorbed in this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in historical drama.
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on 18 July 2017
This is s truly beautiful book, by a really great author, capable of bringing the past to life, whilst sensitively writing about a real love story from the 14th century. I read it the first time about 50 years ago and was hooked. I've since lost the book, but decided to read it yet again. Truly worth it!!!
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on 6 March 2017
I bought this book as a birthday present for my daughter but she hasn't read it yet. It's in the queue. I read it myself about forty years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt so well informed after reading it. I even visited Katherine's grave in Lincoln cathedral. I shan't read it again as I remember every word.
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on 19 July 2017
Love this book! First read it when I was 16 (long time ago!) and have kept a copy by me for all these years. I now have dragged myself into the 21st century and got it on my Kindle. It's a very colourful and absorbing book, and Miss Seyton paints an amazing picture of the 13th century with wonderful detail to make the reader imagine they were there when it all happened.
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on 28 July 2017
Katharine is a great book. I have read it four times, first in my teens. Each time I find it a delight and get deeper into each character. I have been to Lincoln Cathedral and seen her tomb. A wonderful character.
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on 4 August 2017
Excellent research by the author and a great example of an indepth historical novel.
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on 28 May 2017
I WILL READ THIS BOOK AGAIN AND AGAIN WITH GREAT PLEASURE.
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on 14 August 2017
I've read the book dozens of times and to hear someone reading it was great
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