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Extended Audio Sample Katherine: A Novel, 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 McCaddo Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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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.