Roxann's Reviews > Katherine

Katherine by Anya Seton
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's review
Jan 19, 2009

it was amazing
Read in January, 2009

I have come so late to this book which was originally published in 1954. The fact that it is still in print is testament to its relevance and the skill of its author. This is what historical fiction should be: meticulous historical research; a careful illumination of time and place; and, in Seton's words, 'anxious endeavor to use nothing but historical fact when these facts are known.' That the time is 14th century England makes the endeavor all the more impressive. I will long remember the romance of Katherine Swynford, the unlikely ancestor of much of the British Royal Family, and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. This book was a commitment for me. It is 500 pages and not the lightest reading, but I was so richly rewarded. It is a marvelous story set in a time of Black Death, knights in shining armour, Chaucer, distant wars, peasant uprising, the mystic Julian of Norwich, and all the intrigue of the court. The book is beautifully written with extraordinary detail and description, but also wonderfully instructive. Seton is much-respected for her historical writing - Katherine is now considered a classic - and I will surely add more of her books to my 'to read' shelf.
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