Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review of Katherine by Anya Seton

Reviewed by Liza Perrat
Rating: 4 stars

As soon as I started reading Katherine, I felt transported from the 21st century straight back to the 14th; to a medieval world filled with political intrigue, danger, violence, superstition and romance. It was a memorable journey and, once over, it wasn’t easy to return to the present.

Born commoners, Katherine and her older sister Philippa, who married Geoffrey Chaucer, were left poor, and while Philippa obtained a position in the household of the Queen, wife to King Edward III of England, Katherine was sent to a convent.

Katherine eventually joined her sister at Court, where her beauty captured the attention of the lustful knight, Sir Hugh Swynford. Katherine reluctantly married him and became Lady Swynford, but at the same time, she met John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III and brother to the heir to the throne, The Black Prince. John was, at the time, happily married to the beautiful Blanche, who became Katherine’s friend.

Upon the deaths of Blanche and Hugh Swynford, their passion was consummated, and, despite John of Gaunt having to marry the heiress to the throne of Castile, for political reasons, Katherine remained the true love of his life. Katherine bore him many children and their affair caused scandal, hatred and unrest throughout the country.

I enjoyed learning much about this historical period, as the author, through her impeccable research, unerringly brought to life the characters that made this era memorable.


Written over half a century ago, this little-documented historical fact is as moving today as it surely was when it was first written. The richly-drawn portrait of the love affair of Katherine De Roet and John of Gaunt is a novel to be savoured, and I would highly recommend it to lovers of historical romance

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