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Extended Audio Sample Katherine: A Novel Audiobook, by Anya Seton Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (12,227 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anya Seton Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9781452671093
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Fourteenth-century England is the setting for Anya Seton's classic historical romance, "Katherine: A Novel." What better place to find intrigue, war, adultery and even murder than in the courts of the Plantagenets?

"Katherine: A Novel" is a marvelously detailed, well researched novel that tells the story of Katherine Swynford, the mistress and eventual wife of John of Gaunt, and their children.

It is this family, begun on "the wrong side of the sheets," who were the direct ancestors of the Tudors, the Stuarts and the modern British royal family.

First published in 1954, Seton's novel captures the rich tapestry of 14th-century life, including the very high and the very low: knight and vassal, King and serf, legitimate wife and passionate mistress.

Katherine Swynford was the daughter of a lower-ranking knight who married another knight, with whom she had children. After her husband's death, she ends up becoming the mistress of John of Gaunt, the son of King Edward III and his wife, Philippa. They fall passionately in love and produce four children out of wedlock. This is only the beginning of their story, one which finds them finally united in marriage after decades of war, interactions with the Church and court scandal.

It is well after their children are grown that they finally marry.

"Katherine: A Novel" traces Katherine's life, set against the pageant of medieval England, which includes rich descriptions of life at court during the time of Chaucer who, incidentally, was Katherine's brother-in-law.

Anya Seton was born Ann Seton Chase in 1904 and died in 1990. She was a highly respected American writer of historical romances. She is known for her accurate portrayal of historical facts and intensive research into the historical background against which she sets her novels.

Set in the vibrant fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the classic romance Katherine features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets-Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II-who ruled 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 well-documented affair and love persist through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption. This epic novel of conflict, cruelty, and untamable love has become a classic since its first publication in 1954. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Seton breathes life into this little-documented historical fact…a glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense.”

    Austin Chronicle

  • Seton breathes life into this little-documented historical fact…a glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense. The Austin Chronicle

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 2/15/2014

    " I just finished this book a couple of days ago and I loved it. I have to admit it had its ups and downs and sometimes I was loving it and others I was almost hating it or at least wasn't sure what I thought anymore. But by the end I couldn't put it down and I loved the journey I took with Katherine. She was an amazing person and I really enjoyed reading about her life and the wonderful love story with the Duke. It was really fun to read a real life love story too, I know the details are filled in by the basic timeline of events and what happened is true so I loved it. I'm definitely glad I read it even though it took me a while to get through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gabrielle Erickson | 2/8/2014

    " For all you historical fiction lovers, this is wonderful! Great story taking real people and events and giving them life through detailed descriptions and interesting dialogue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cait | 1/28/2014

    " Most definitely the best historical fiction novel ever. That's just the truth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mnmom | 1/23/2014

    " Just OK. Just OK. Perhaps the horrid experience of "Pillars of the Earth" has spoiled anything of it's ilk for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 1/15/2014

    " A favourite of many, but sadly, not me. The first half didn't enagage me at all, and I'd have given up on it had it not been for so many rave reviews. I'm glad I stuck with it as I liked the second half much more than the first. Overall though, this was not a book for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joan | 1/13/2014

    " Interesting book. It was really long and the type was so small it made it difficult to read, but I did enjoy it and liked the characters. That a lower class could marry a higher class was very amusing and it was a story with a nice end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 mstan | 1/13/2014

    " Eh, I guess this was OK. I have found over the course of the last year or so that I am really not a fan of historical fiction. There is just too much explanation, and the sense that everything has already been scripted/ has already taken place, so there's little room for the characters to grow into their skins and do things that surprise the writer and (more importantly) reader. Plus, this was nearly a 500-pager, and while the political intrigue had the potential to develop in really interesting directions, the rather flat romance between Katherine and John of Gaunt overshadowed all else. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 E. | 1/10/2014

    " I read this when I was about 18, and absolutely loved it. Would be interesting to re-read it today..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 1/10/2014

    " Absolutely loved the writing style and love story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tina | 12/4/2013

    " 4 stars for story but 2 stars for writing style. I think I have been ruined for all royal historical fiction by the Other Boleyn Girl. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenifer | 10/25/2013

    " One of my favorites. I recently re-read it after 30-some years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mimi | 10/24/2013

    " Best historical fiction I have read in a long time! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 10/15/2013

    " Wonderful book. Will read again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shanda Braithwaite | 10/6/2013

    " I enjoyed this...as I love historical fiction...but I like other authors better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim Godard | 9/6/2013

    " I am a huge fan of British historical novels, and Seton does not disappoint with this one. Of that genre, this has to be my favorite. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Connie | 4/16/2013

    " Loved this book! As always happens to me, with historical fiction, it's made me curious to find out which parts are historical and which parts are fiction. I've googled around a little bit and have several times come across a biography of Katherine by Alison Weir. I might have to check that out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tacey | 4/8/2013

    " Took me a little while to immerse myself in the writing style, but I loved this novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Traci | 1/3/2013

    " I like more obscure novels, I think, and this author has only recently been rediscovered. Though I have read all of her books, Katherine is my favorite. All of her books are history-based, very well researched, and unusual. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mandy | 11/15/2012

    " Simply put, I loved this book. It was well-written and epic in scale, and when I finished it, I felt like I'd lost a good friend. I became attached to and invested in the characters, and I believe that historical fiction has become one of my favorite genres largely because of this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah | 11/6/2012

    " A great historical love story. I learned a lot about 14th century England reading this book. I thought the ending was wrapped up a little quickly though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arlynda | 10/19/2012

    " Anya Seton was one of my favorite authors and this book did not disappoint. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shweta | 6/29/2012

    " Its too good.. read it twice.. can't get enough from it. Description of 16th/17th century (sorry i am bad with dates)is superb.I dont know what others feel about this book but its a must read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathleen | 5/9/2012

    " Historial fiction of life of 3rd wife of John of Gaunt- fictional but true-if it wasn't for her there would be no Tudor line "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nina | 2/29/2012

    " A wonderful read. Historical fiction of high caliber. I cried in the pilgrimage part. Enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 M | 11/13/2011

    " Kelly, you were right, loved it. But so glad I didn't exist as a woman back then! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laural | 8/23/2011

    " I love history and found this story so interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanja Seppä | 8/11/2011

    " An amazingly good story about illicit love, involving Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. They are the ancestors of most of the British royal family, however unlikely this result seems for most of the book. An excellent read. One of the best historical novels I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacie | 6/28/2011

    " I love historical fiction, and I loved this book. It's a little long winded at times, but it's totally epic. Even after I've finished it I can't stop thinking about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malla | 6/25/2011

    " One of the best historical novels ever written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Merry | 6/18/2011

    " This was very engaging. Towards the end I started to feel as if I had read this before. Maybe I have. Anyway it was good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 6/4/2011

    " A favourite of many, but sadly, not me. The first half didn't enagage me at all, and I'd have given up on it had it not been for so many rave reviews. I'm glad I stuck with it as I liked the second half much more than the first. Overall though, this was not a book for me.

    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lida | 5/20/2011

    " Another well-written, incredibly detailed saga that evokes this period. It tells the improbable tale of Katherine and her life-long journey to be with her one true love. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nikki | 5/5/2011

    " I've finally decided I just don't care for this style of writing. It had really good parts, but should have ended twice and I didn't even get to the end. This gives me guilt, but it's the truth for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristy | 4/10/2011

    " I crawled into this book and camped out for a few weeks. I love reading books, although fiction, about real historical figures. I feel like I'm learning in an enjoyable way. It was hard to keep some of the characters straight, but I blame that on my lack of Royal English history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 3/21/2011

    " Took me forever to get through. Partially because I am so weak in my knowledge of this historical period, but ultimately I really enjoyed it.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lee | 3/20/2011

    " One of the best books ever!! Loved it so much! "

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About the Author
Author Anya Seton

Anya Seton (1904-1990) was the author of many bestselling historical novels, including Katherine, Avalon, Dragonwyck, Devil Water, and Foxfire. She lived in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.