Monday, November 9, 2015

Katherine by Anya Seton


“A glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense: exhilarating, exuberant, and rich with the jeweled tones of England in the 1300s.” —Austin Chronicle
Katherine is an epic novel of a 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 fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II—who rule despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king’s son, falls passionately in love with the already-married Katherine. Their affair persists through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption. Anya Seton's vivid rendering of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Lancaster makes Katherine an unmistakable classic.

VERY entertaining!  I found myself pulling out my knitting so that I have an excuse to listen to a bit more. I liked the introduction that audible gave explaining that historical fiction was very popular in the early to mid 1900s but lost favor in the second half of the 20th C.  I think that I will dig some more of these historical fiction works up to read.  It is certainly an easy way to get a feeling for the times surrounding our ancestors in England.  I think it particularly interesting that this couple ended up being the ancestors of most of the British Royal family:

the Tudor dynasty was directly descended from John and Katherine's eldest child, John Beaufort, great-grandfather of Henry VII, who based his claim to the throne on his mother's descent from John of Gaunt, a son of Edward III. John Beaufort also had a daughter named Joan Beaufort, who married James I of Scotlandand thus was an ancestress of the House of Stuart.[7] John and Katherine's daughter, Joan Beaufort, was grandmother of the English kings Edward IV and Richard III, the latter of whom Henry Tudor (thus becoming by conquest Henry VII) defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field; Henry's claim was strengthened by marrying Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV. It was also through Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmoreland that the sixth queen of Henry VIIICatherine Parr, descended.[8] John of Gaunt's son — Katherine's stepson Henry of Bolingbroke — became Henry IV after deposing Richard II (who was imprisoned and died in Pontefract Castle, where Katherine's son, Thomas Swynford, was constable and is said to have starved Richard to death for his step-brother). John of Gaunt's daughter by his first marriage to Blanche of LancasterPhilippa of Lancaster, was great-great-grandmother to Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII and mother of Mary I of England. John of Gaunt's child by his second wife ConstanceCatherine(or Catalina), was great-grandmother of Catherine of Aragon as well.

 Katherine's sister Philippa, a lady of Queen Philippa's household, married the poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

I read this book via