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The Winthrop Woman

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,627 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
First published in 1958 and set in the early 17th century, this bestselling novel—and follow-up to Katherine—follows Elizabeth Winthrop, a courageous Puritan woman who finds herself at odds with her heritage and surroundings. A real historical figure, Elizabeth married into the family of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In those times of hardship, fa ...more
Hardcover, 573 pages
Published January 1st 1974 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. (first published 1958)
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4 Star Historical Fiction
161st out of 234 books — 91 voters
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107th out of 129 books — 8 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Misfit
What an incredible story of an amazing woman. Elizabeth Fones, married into the Winthrop family, the leader of that being John Winthrop who took his family to New England to govern the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Elizabeth was a rare woman indeed, going on to being one of the few women of her times to be a large landholder, married three times and finally finding great happiness and love in the last one to Will Hallet.

This book has it all -- passion, madness, bigotry, ignorant superstitions and r
...more
Chrissie
Finally, I have chugged through Winthrop Woman. It is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House Collection, but for adults. I did like these books, but then I was a kid! Indians and witches and cute, super sweet romance, romance and more romance. The romance is so clean it whistles. Forget a spark of passion. Yes, the history is there, and it is all accurate, but it is too cute, too predictable, too romantic, and too moralistic. The writing is accurate, but not beautiful and not intriguing. Maybe ...more
Carol Storm
Jul 20, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sleazier, sexier, version of THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND.

Elizbeth is sexy. Elizabeth likes luxury, fancy clothes, and handsome men. Elizabeth is not a perfect fit for Puritan New England, but thanks to several lucky marriages and husbands who all seem to conveniently die at the right moment, she ends up a woman of substance . . . respected, admired, and tolerated in spite of her open defiance of sober Puritan customs.

Typical moment . . . the whole colony is fasting, going without food for a
...more
Laura
Feb 17, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit, Wanda
This is the story of Elizabeth Fones with a historical background of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Elizabeth was a nice of John Winthrop and she marries Harry Winthrop, her first cousin.

When the Winthrop family decides to move the New World, they become founding members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston.

The population of this colony was governed by the Puritanism and John Winthrop is elected as the Governor of this colony.



According to Wiki
...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturday
My mother recommended this book to me so I confess I was reluctant from the beginning since our reading tastes seldom match. But I quickly became caught up in Elizabeth's story and the way it was told. As much as the book is about one woman's life, it is also about the beginnings of a country's life. I learned details about the Puritans that were never mentioned in my school history classes so many years ago. They left England in search of religious freedom was pretty much all I remember: turns ...more
Judy
Mar 10, 2011 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The #8 top bestseller of 1958 was another door stopper but also an excellent piece of historical fiction. It made my list of Best Books Read in 2010. Elizabeth Fones, the woman of the title, was the niece of John Winthrop who became the first governor of Massachusetts in 1630. Elizabeth married her cousin Henry, one of John Winthrop's many sons, although she was really in love with John Jr. All of these characters actually existed and I saw that the plots of romance novels are truly drawn from ...more
Donna
Nov 09, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I did the audio and the narrator did an amazing job. The different accents were nicely done. The audio was long....27 hours, but not once did I do the page math. This rolled along at an even pace. I was pulled in from the beginning.

This book covers the life of a woman, Elizabeth (Bess) Winthrop. She was a Puritan and left England with her family to strike out a new beginning in the Colonies of America in the 1600's. The historical fiction was nicely done. The research was wov
...more
Caz
I've given this an A for narration and B+ for content at AudioGals.

Originally published in 1958, The Winthrop Woman is a richly detailed piece of biographical fiction based on the life of Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett, niece of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and its first Governor.

The book opens at Christmas 1618 when Elizabeth is just seven years old and she is travelling with her family to visit her well-to-do relatives, the Winthrops, at Groton in
...more
Cphe
The story of Elizabeth Winthrop from her early beginnings through to her later life. A well written historical saga and rich in historical detail of the times depicted. I couldn't say that this is the best book I've ever read by Anya Seton but it was still an enjoyable and easy read.
Sara W
This novel about Elizabeth Winthrop, niece of Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was extremely well-researched. The book follows Elizabeth's life starting with her years in England and through all the drama she went through in the New World. I knew I was in good hands when I read Anya Seton's author's note and she wrote: "My determination to present authentic history has necessitated a scrupulous adherence to the findings of research. And I felt that this woman, with her passion ...more
Mandy Moody
Jan 02, 2009 Mandy Moody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! So well written and so engaging, I loved it.
I don't know why books like these aren't assigned to High Schoolers. It brought early American history alive in a way that textbooks never did for me. Seton's research is impeccable, and this book was more fact than fiction - but was interesting!
The main character, Elizabeth Fones, is one that I think almost any woman would be able to identify with. Although her thoughts and feelings are ahead of her time, her struggle between wh
...more
Beth
Dec 28, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is good to immerse oneself in Historical Fiction in order to find out about one's own area. The Winthrop family is pictured with some of them living on an estate and the poorer cousins including the tale's heroine who visits now and then. Visiting in the early 1600's was a rough deal for her patriarch is extremely religiously repressive person. About 200 people relocate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Boston area) with John Winthrop (who later becomes the colony Governor) to begin new lives. ...more
Linda Shrum
Feb 08, 2016 Linda Shrum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book 10 stars I would. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed s book this much. It ranks up there with one of the best books I have ever read. I get stuck in one genre and when I step out I find great reads. Elizabeth or Bess as she is called is such s brave, strong, woman. And very strong willed when women were not allowed to be. What a difficult journey to have to endure. I believe this book is based on a true story and so well researched that I feel everything was d ...more
Christine Hutcherson
Better than I expected - I thought it would be dry and a slog to read. It features an appealing and likeable main character, an engrossing story, and a fascinating peek into history, but has too many romance novel overtones for my taste. My favorite parts were descriptions of everyday life and activities. A fast read despite its bloated length.
Joyce
It's so nice to see Seton's classic titles published in such excellent audio editions. Seton's well-researched historical novels are an excellent choice for anyone, like me, who knows a bit of history. She immerses readers/listeners in the characters and their stories: here, the rebellious Elizabeth Winthrop, niece of founding father John, governor of Mass. Bay Colony. Forced to join the family in the New World, Elizabeth makes her own way, and after two failed marriages finds happiness. Lots of ...more
Susan Brokenshire-prater
This is historical fiction at its best. Anya Seton's research uncovers a remarkable woman who was one of America's first colonists.
Merredith
I can't believe this was published in 1958! I read most of Anya Seton's books in highschool or college, not this one, but all that were at the library, and i didn't even realize they were so old. I loved this book because it's about the puritans and the colonization of New England. I actually had a distant relative on the mayflower, but this one isn't about the pilgrims. most of what we learned about the first settlers started after they came here to america but this one begins in england, and i ...more
Karyl
Dec 06, 2011 Karyl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Winthrop, born in England and reared among the gentry, emigrated to the New World to join her Puritan uncle, the famous John Winthrop, who coordinated much of the migration to New England. But she wasn't your typical Puritan woman; eventually she refused to go to religious services, and felt that the Puritans did not have the final answer when it came to religion. She was always a trial to her uncle due to her unconventional lifestyle, but she found peace in having charge of her own li ...more
Knewmyer
Jun 10, 2015 Knewmyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read in preparation for our trip to Boston in October. Re-listen, actually. I loved this book when I read it the first time and since it is such a big ass book, I should have eye-read it instead of listened to the audio, it just went on a little too slowly.

I know it's fiction, but Seton makes Elizabeth and the period just come alive for me. Beautifully descriptive, but at times the descriptions seemed a little too belabored. Fascinating look at the settling of Boston and New York.
Carrie
Sep 14, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a while to fully appreciate. In the beginning I roller coastered from boredom to intrigue. In the end and as I look back at the story, I really did enjoy it. My heart ached for all the tragedies Bess had to suffer, and I felt many emotions along with her. My only complaint would be that it took me so long to read.
Elise Murdock
Jun 06, 2012 Elise Murdock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book follows Elizabeth Winthrop, a courageous Puritan woman who finds herself at odds with her heritage and surroundings. A real historical figure, Elizabeth married into the family of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In those times of hardship, famine, and Indian attacks, many believed that the only way to prosper was through the strong, bigoted, and theocratic government that John Winthrop favored. Defying the government and her family, Elizabeth befriends famous her ...more
Joy
Jan 14, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a interesting historical fiction. This novel gave me a glimpse of what life was like for my ancestors. Good thing I broke my arm, because I finally had time to read this.
Megan
Aug 05, 2010 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had other Anya Seton books recommended to me, but when it came to choosing a book to take on vacation, this one beat out the others because of the subject matter.
The Winthrop Woman is meticulously researched and engagingly told. One often assumes that Puritans are boring (puritanical, even) but I felt that this book provided a lot of historical information in an accessible, interesting way. Halfway through my vacation, before reading the book, I found myself regretting the purchase (Puritan
...more
☆ Ruth ☆
Aug 27, 2015 ☆ Ruth ☆ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anya Seton at her best. Based on the life of Elizabeth Winthrop, the story takes us back to the incredible trials and tragedies faced by the first American settlers. The women particularly, whose lives were controlled by their menfolk but still had to face the same unimaginable hardship and danger, without any power to take independent action or make changes.
This is one of those books that kept me up till the small hours to finish it and made a deep, lasting impression.
I would definitely recomm
...more
Diane
Apr 28, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Anya Seton when I read Katherine. She really knows how to write an historical novel. I liked this book just as well. It took me awhile to get through it - it's pretty meaty, and I've been busy. I always love when I learn more history through a good read.

The book is about Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feakes Hallet, who was the niece of John Winthrop (one of the early leaders in the Massachusetts area). It takes place in the early to mid 1600's. She was quite an interesting, independent
...more
Mintzis
Jun 09, 2013 Mintzis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like historical fiction, and I thought this would be a good long read. But somewhere seton crossed into the romance realm. The heroine stays sexually attractive till the last page, despite having 7 or so children (I lost count), being married to a madman, and living in precolonial America. With each episode, I would think, "really?" try to calculate her age and gage how many pages were left. I'm not quite sure why I stuck it out -- although the history was engaging. That's probably what earned ...more
Donna MacDonald
Sep 11, 2014 Donna MacDonald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a historical novel about the life, trials and constant struggles one of my ancestors (my uncle was able to track this down through genealogy). Although she was connected with a very prominent and influential family, life was far from easy. Her name was Elizabeth, a Puritan woman. It's set in the early17th century about ten years before the setting of the Scarlet Letter. I loved this book, not only because she was my eighth-great grandmother, but because she was an incredibly brave, beaut ...more
Melinda
Sep 19, 2010 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Winthrop Woman is an epic piece of historical fiction. Elizabeth Winthrop was an absolutely remarkable, courageous (and stubborn!) woman in a world dominated by men. Few writers are so well reasearched as Anya Seton. The characters were so real and I loved the way the book ended with a feeling of hope and resolution. This is one of the best historical works of fiction I've ever read.
Theresa
May 06, 2014 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I found this novel of Elizabeth Winthrop Feake Haskell to be absorbing and educational. I was very surprised to find that my knowledge of American History (that I always prided myself on being 'up on'), was not as deep as I originally thought!

Several authors of historical fiction like to take the position that women fought against the mores and strictures of their times. Seton is one of them, in sculpting Bess Winthrop's character. At times I have to confess I found the over-emphasis on Bess's i
...more
Mary
Feb 13, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. I give it 4 1/2 stars. This author REALLY does her research and at the end of the book she tells you what happened to these people in our country's history after her story ends. If you didn't know it was a true story based on letters, diaries, official records, etc., you would never believe the lives of these characters could take so many twists and turns. I learned lots about the beginning of the Puritan movement in England and consequently their move to the American c ...more
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Anya Seton (January 23, 1904 (although the year is often misstated to be 1906 or 1916) - November 8, 1990) was the pen name of the American author of historical romances, Ann Seton.

Ann Seton was born in New York, New York, and died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She was the daughter of English-born naturalist and pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America, Ernest Thompson Seton and Grace Gallatin Seton.
...more
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