Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Katherine” as Want to Read:
Katherine
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Katherine

by
4.19  ·  Rating details ·  28,769 ratings  ·  1,977 reviews
This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenet ...more
Paperback, Rediscovered Classics, 500 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1954)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Katherine, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu I have too many favorite strong women characters to choose one :) Katherine may be added to the list after I read the book about her. :)
Jenny This was assigned reading for my high school honors English class in the mid 90's. I remember blushing a little because I was fairly naive, but there …moreThis was assigned reading for my high school honors English class in the mid 90's. I remember blushing a little because I was fairly naive, but there is nothing pornographic or even very suggestive. The most risque thing about it is the idea that the romance continues after what is written.

If you're comfortable with your child watching any show on prime time TV, then this book will seem blase when it comes to sexual situations.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  28,769 ratings  ·  1,977 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Katherine
Kiri Fiona
4.5 Stars…

Quote… I've come for you, Katrine Quote…


description

What I loved:
This whole, magnificent epic is based on a true story. Either Katherine Swynford, her beloved John of Gaunt, or both (because she gave him 4 - 4 - kids as his mistress), gave rise to the royal lines that include Kings Henry IV, V, VI & VII, Richard III, Edward IV, a Queen of Scots, every sovereign of Scotland since ages ago (sorry, my google is down or I'd sound way smarter right now) and every sovereign of England in the last 400 years. Meanwhile, my branch o
...more
Lynn
This book is both a spiritual coming of age tale and a hauntingly-beautiful love story. Anya Seton wrote some other good books, but make no mistake — this is her masterpiece.

Katherine is based on the true story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt from 14th Century England. John, a younger son of King Edward III, was one of the richest and most powerful men of his day. His marriages were strategic alliances — but the great love of his life was Katherine, the humble, orphan daughter of one h
...more
Diane
This is the book that made me fall in love with historical fiction. It's based on the true story of the 14th-century love affair between Katherine de Roet and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster.

As a young woman, Katherine was a reputed beauty but had few prospects, so she married the brutal Sir Hugh Swynford and had two children. By chance, her marriage put her in the path of the Duke, who was struck by her beauty. After Hugh died, Katherine and the Duke stole away and had their long anticipat
...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 2.75* of five

The Book Report: Since this is a resurrected review, I'm putting the Amazon book description here:
“This classic romance novel tells the true story of the love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in the vibrant 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edw
...more
Gary
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A detailed and rich novel, with the author showing a flair for the English language and a deep understanding of medieval English history. Colourful wording, and a balance between passionate scenes and descriptive tracing of the events of the life of the incredibly interesting and beautiful Katherine Swynford.
One may have to reread parts, but if you focus you will find this a rewarding historical page turner, and understand why after 55 years it is still a best loved classic of historical literat
...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
“Cease, daughter!" said the priest at last in a trembling voice. "I cannot grant absolution, no priest could...”

Widely considered to be Seton's best work, this is a fast paced and fascinating interpretation of Katherine's life lived in a time of turmoil and copious bloodshed.

 photo bloodysword.jpg


The only thing that made me read this slowly was the edition I had Katherine by Anya Seton has a small font and little space between the lines. At first I could only manage 20 pages at a time. I guess kindle has left me spoilt. However, I soon ad
...more
Melody
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
Solid, engaging historical fiction about the mistress of John of Gaunt who was the ancestress of the Tudors. Rich with period detail. The part that makes me knock the rating down is the horrible passage wherein Katherine becomes a guilt-ridden Christian who repudiates her own happiness. It was such a jarring disconnect and so typical of everything I loathe about Christianity that it spoiled the book for me. It's hard to imagine a moral and spiritual about-face of this magnitude and swiftness. No ...more
Chrissie
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished: The last 100 pages or so I was thinking - stop with the crap about the customs of medieval times and just let me know what is going to happen to the main characters! I cared about them very much. I ended up totally loving Katherine. She was real. She made tons of "wrong steps" in her life, but damn it all we all have to live don't we! Who says we have to be perfect? Who says we SHOULDN'T fall in love and be carried away by our emotions. Also I REALLY learned about life in the middle ag ...more
Sara
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is important to say up front that I am a sucker for good historical fiction. I like knowing that these people existed, that these events are part of the human record, that no one can know what these people actually thought or felt, but that this is one possible scenario that fits all the historical information. What is sure is that some things about people do not change with the exchange of horses for automobiles and kings for ego-driven politicians and that it is our ability to find common g ...more
Alice Poon
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I’m giving this novel 3.5 stars. It is overall a meticulously researched and well-written historical romance set in 14th century England about Katherine Swynford, the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

The first half of the book is dedicated to describing the romantic love that develops in a tortuous way between the two protagonists. Katherine is initially married off against her wish to a brutish husband, whose faults include poverty that results from mismanagement of his estates. T
...more
Dottie
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any who like history and love stories
Recommended to Dottie by: Mary Lee Ruoti
Anya Seton was a best selling author in the 50s and 60s. I read it in 1970 because a friend told me it was her favorite book, and it became 2nd on my list (after Jane Eyre) for many years. Anya wrote historical romances based on factual history, and her extensive research for her novels is usually noted in any of her bios. This book is based on the lives of Katherine and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. John is son of Edward III. Katherine comes to court as to join her sister as a servant to th ...more
❀Julie
I think I like historical fiction better than historical romance...

Overall I enjoyed this story of Katherine and the fate of her relationship with the Duke of Lancaster. For a “classic” this was a fairly easy read, even if it was a bit overly descriptive. The medieval times were an interesting time period to read about and the historical aspects were certainly not lacking. I enjoyed reading about characters based on real people, but somehow I never felt an emotional attachment to them. Had it no
...more
Iset

I persisted with this book for as long as I did because it is so overwhelming rated highly and described as a “classic” of historical fiction. But I’m very much afraid I have to pull a DNF on this one. I just can’t stand to read any more of this novel. I’ll try and explain the good and the bad below, and why this book just didn’t work for me.

The Good:

Anya Seton has really done her research trying to get the historical setting as detailed and accurate as she can. The ins and outs of daily life in
...more
Kate Quinn
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the great historical fiction romances of all time, and a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the Middle Ages. Katherine is a pretty fifteen-year-old girl in 13th century England, just come to the glamorous court of King Edward III of England - and no one is more glamorous than the King's third son, the handsome and charismatic Prince John of Gaunt. John saves Katherine from rape in a moment of kindness, but nothing can stop her marriage to the clumsy and sometimes brutal Sir Hugh S ...more
Becky
3.5 stars

So, you might notice a theme this year (hopefully, if I don't suck and give up halfway through the year, as I'm often wont to do), which is that I'm trying to dust off some of the ancient books I own and actually read them, instead of using them to just keep my bookcases from floating away. This book is one that I've owned for going on 9 years, so...


I feel like I haven't been reading much Historical Fiction lately, though I just counted and last year I read six (well, five, and one I
...more
Stephanie
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Stephanie by: Leslie O
If you suspend a string in water saturated with salt or sugar, a beautiful crystal will gradually grow on it. That’s what I thought of as I read Katherine. The string is the love story that runs throughout the novel. The crystal is the meticulous detail that Anya Seaton has used to embellish that love story.

Katherine is a beautiful young commoner. John of Gaunt is the King’s son. Their love is thwarted at nearly every turn: by marriages, by duty, by social norms and the dictates of their own con
...more
Danielle
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I did it! And it only took me a week and a half! The hubby was even getting sick of seeing me reading the same book for so long. And because it was long, it gets a long review. This book was a daunting task and were it not for a sworn pledge from a fellow trusted reader, I'd have tossed the book aside by Chapter 3 and 'promised' myself I'd read it later when there wasn't anything else to do. But I pressed onward, even while hating the first quarter of the book and being miserable along with Kath ...more
Jill
Here's the thing about historical fiction: we already know what happened.

So the wiles of plot are nullified. There's no reason to wonder how everything will turn out when Wikipedia exists.

Okay, then how about the writing? We may know what happens but the author can sprinkle the story with good prose and keen insights to keep us reading.

Unfortunately, most historical fiction authors try to echo the language spoken in days of yore. A good tactic, certainly, but one that is rarely successful. The
...more
Cathy
Katherine was the book from my Classics Club list picked 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 thei
...more
Shelbi
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shelbi by: Steph, Amy
In keeping with my Barnes and Noble binge, I also bought this wonderful book. But I am so mad that it doesn't have a family tree in the front!! I may have to photocopy it from someone.


This book is amazing. I had my doubts when I first picked up my borrowed worn out copy, but hearing Steph and Amy rave about it finally piqued my interest.

It is a book of adventure, romance and suspense. If you do happen to pick it up, it starts off a little slow, but I strongly urge you to keep with it. This is
...more
CLM
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps my favorite book in the whole world! Anyone who loves historical fiction, but has not read it, should immediately buy the 50th anniversary edition.
Rick Slane
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Do you miss Game of Thrones? Here is some very good romantic historical-fiction.
Laura Leaney
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Oh Sweet Lord. Two lovers “bathed in light.” A woman “so pure” that the “beauty of her arms and breasts gleam[ed] like alabaster between strands of long auburn hair.” Her lover? The most powerful man in England. Swoon. This is the tale of long-term love based loosely on the facts we know about John of Gaunt and his “paramour” (later wife) Katherine Swynford. Medieval romantics need not fear; this novel is fat with surcotes, prie-dieux, jeweled coifs, emblazoned hanaps, and fearful gorge-swallowi ...more
Hana
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Harrowing story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in 14th century of Chaucer and the Black Death.
Orsolya
English history is as heavily populated by royal and ducal mistresses as it was with battles. Whether dramatic or not, having a mistress was commonplace and often changed the course of history. One of these women whose mere presence and bloodline altered royalty was Katherine Synford. One time mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt; she was the matriarch of the Beauforts whom later spawned the Tudors. Prolific author Anya Seton fictionalizes Katherine and her relationship with John in the 1954 ...more
Megan Baxter
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
When I started reading this book, my husband looked at the cover and asked if I'd picked it to read based on that alone. I used to have this poster over my bed before we moved in together, then later, above the couch in our living room. I said no, as I'd had no idea what the cover would be when I went to pick it up. But it is a nice piece of synchronicity.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decis
...more
Wendy
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anya Seton’s Katherine has pride of place on my bookshelf. Its hard-backed cover is tatty and falling apart; I ‘borrowed’ it from a communal bookshelf in my WRNS quarters when I was a seventeen year-old girl and herewith confess my crime – I never returned it. It’s THAT book, that ONE book that one never forgets, the one that started my fascination with the Plantagenet dynasty and John of Gaunt in particular, and it is a fascination that has never faded. It says a lot about a book when it has ra ...more
Karen
I find it hard to put down on paper just how much I love this novel and how much it means to me.

I discovered many of what were to become my favourite books in the last year of middle school/early years of high school. Among this list I include Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice...and Katherine.

Anya Seton was a very talented writer, and this novel is her masterpiece. It tells the story of Katherine de Roet; sister-in-law of Chaucer, wife of Hugh Swynford, and mistress and later wife of John o
...more
Bookish Ally
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wish there were more stars. In this,my favorite genre, I now have an all time favorite title. It is not surprising to me that Anya Seton, a truly gifted and thorough (referring to her research and historic detail) received the most acclaim of her career in this accounting of the life of Katherine Swynford.

Not just a tale for the avid reader of British historical fiction, this would also be suitable for someone who has not tried this genre. Beware, starting with excellence may spoil you a bit!
...more
Deborah Pickstone
Probably Seton's best book. I read it in my teens so re-reading now was almost like a first read and I saw the flaws more and the historical errors. However, it was a fabulous read even if it did contain quite a lot of flights of fancy about Katherine - and certainly it was a big improvement om Alison Weir's 'straight' history of Katherine Swynford - a pretty thin subject for a serious biography and (as usual) Weir did not please me.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Retro Reads: PART FIVE (1381) 26 24 Jun 05, 2017 05:03PM  
Retro Reads: PART FOUR (1376-1377) 17 20 Jun 03, 2017 08:12PM  
Retro Reads: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND & RESOURCES: (Spoiler warning!) 18 28 Jun 02, 2017 08:23PM  
Retro Reads: PART TWO (1369) 8 18 May 29, 2017 06:19AM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for Katherine 5 33 Mar 13, 2016 03:26PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Katherine by Anya Seton 2 23 Jan 27, 2015 09:55AM  
Classic Historica...: Part Five: Chapter 22 - 29 15 35 Sep 29, 2014 04:03AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept  (Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1)
  • Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, #1)
  • The Sunne in Splendour
  • Daughter of York
  • Eleanor the Queen
  • Forever Amber
  • Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2)
  • Year of Wonders
  • The Greatest Knight (William Marshal, #2)
  • Legacy
  • Red Roses: Blanche of Gaunt to Margaret Beaufort
  • The Winter Siege
  • The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)
  • The First Princess of Wales
  • The House at Old Vine (House, #2)
  • The Scandalous Duchess
  • The Course of Honor
See similar books…
679 followers
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

Articles featuring this book

Get in the mood with our list of the top 100 romances of all time. We narrowed the field by limiting our results to books aimed at a...
254 likes · 452 comments
“I only know that from wherever it is that we're going there can be no turning back” 18 likes
“I am sure that no man asks mercy and grace with true meaning, but if mercy and grace have first been given him.” 8 likes
More quotes…