I picked this book up in the historical fiction section thinking this would be a great find. It was more of a complex one. Which is good, don't get me...moreI picked this book up in the historical fiction section thinking this would be a great find. It was more of a complex one. Which is good, don't get me wrong but this novel was hard to get through. Koen does an excellent job of not giving the reader what they want (a problem I often have with the writers of these novels) but she just couldn't keep me captivated. It took me nearly six months of this book sitting near my bed to really finish it. Which for me, is a long time. I agree with other readers that she over-saturates the character descriptions and scenery as well. How many times do I need to hear how opulent Devane House is-I get it. Opulency and finery were hand in hand with the time period but she just couldn't cut the cloth quite right for me. It was also hard for me to love Barbara. I couldn't stand her actually. Maybe we're not supposed to like her, and it will always bother me about this book. Maybe I will give it another try sometime. (less)
This is my favorite novel of ALL TIME. And it's not because I am a lush for historical romance (and by all intents and purposes, I am) but it is becau...moreThis is my favorite novel of ALL TIME. And it's not because I am a lush for historical romance (and by all intents and purposes, I am) but it is because this book moved me to my very core. Seton weaves fact and fiction with such imagery and emotion you cannot put it down. At the conclusion, I bawled, laying on my couch just thinking about the love and intense relationship between the hero and heroine that took place. If you've read The Notebook and were moved, try this. I felt like I was there, in the story, more so than most novels. The biggest draw to this book by far is the heroine. No one as pure, brave, or as wonderful as Katherine Swynford has ever existed-and Seton makes you believe it. Ooh-I'm gonna go read it now!(less)
**spoiler alert** So. I am an Anya Seton addict. She is the most brilliant historical fiction writer ever. According to me, she makes Phillipa Gregory...more**spoiler alert** So. I am an Anya Seton addict. She is the most brilliant historical fiction writer ever. According to me, she makes Phillipa Gregory look like a red-headed step-child. That's a big deal.
This novel is set in two times: England in 1968 and the same places in England at the time of the Reformation. Study of this period is kind of a hobby of mine, and Anya's research quenches my thirst for something more personal.
Our protagonists, Richard Marsdon and his new bride, Celia, are the re-incarnated souls of an ancestor or Richard's, who happened to be a Catholic monk, and a young girl tied to his patron's family. Celia, in the present and past, is not my favorite female character (unlike Katherine), she's shallow and single-minded. Characters from 1968 England also are re-incarnated souls of people from the past.
Terrible events lead up to Richard and Celia needing to revisit their past lives, their own hanging in the balance.
Seton portrays England at the time of the Reformation, with all its uncertainties and constantly changing loyalties very well. You get Edward, Elizabeth, and Mary. It's nice to read a novel from the Catholic perspective at this time-most seem to focus on Anne Boleyn, Elzabeth I, etc.
Sometimes, the novel can be a little dreary and Gothic. When Celia travels to Cumberland and lives with the Dacres, it is quite depressing.
This novel is too good to give you much more than that. But after several times of reading it, I understand and catch the nuances from 1968 to the Reformation. Seton remains consistent hundreds of years apart and you must read it several times to catch the brilliance, but it's totally worth it. (less)