About the Book
Katherine comes to the court of Edward III at the age of fifteen. The naïve convent-educated orphan of a penniless knight is dazzled by the jousts and the entertainments of court.
Nevertheless, Katherine is beautiful, and she turns the head of the King’s favourite son, John of Gaunt. But he is married, and she is soon to be betrothed.
A few years later their paths cross again and this time their passion for each other cannot be denied or suppressed. Katherine becomes the prince’s mistress, and discovers an extraordinary world of power, pleasure and passion.
Format: ebook (516 pages) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 6th March 2014  Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Find Katherine on Goodreads
Katherine was the book from my Classics Club listpicked for me to read in the latest Classics Club Spin. And how glad I am it was selected because at 500 pages I’d been putting off reading it but, once I started the book, I became so caught up in the story that the pages flew by.
A fictionalized account of the relationship between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, the book is wonderfully romantic without being slushy or sentimental and full of period atmosphere. The intimate portrait of their love affair which spanned decades is set against the backdrop of wider historical events, such as the Peasants’ Revolt. However, the historical detail never overwhelms the personal story.
The book is rich in descriptive detail – of food, clothing, furnishings, daily life – and has an interesting cast of secondary characters such as Geoffrey Chaucer. I also liked the way the closing scenes of the book contrast Katherine’s view of her newly elevated position with her first impressions of the Plantagenet court as a young girl.
No doubt it can be argued that Katherine is an overly romanticized account of a woman about whom relatively little is actually known. However, as a historical romance it worked for me and I thank the spin gods for choosing this book for me to read.
In three words: Romantic, immersive, engaging
Try something similar: The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O’Brien
About the Author
Anya Seton was born in New York City and grew up on her father`s large estate in Cos Cob and Greenwich, Connecticut, where visiting Indians taught her Indian dancing and woodcraft. One Sioux chief called her Anutika, which means ‘cloud grey eyes’, a name which the family shortened to Anya. She was educated by governesses and then travelled abroad, first to England, then to France where she hoped to become a doctor. She studied for a while at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Paris before marrying at eighteen and having three children.
She began writing in 1938 with a short story sold to a newspaper syndicate and the first of her ten novels was published in 1941. Her other novels include Green Darkness, The Winthrop Woman and Avalon. She died in 1990.