I have a collection on Google called “Young Adult Books You Can Read More Than Once”, and while writing a post for that the other day I remembered in one of my all-time favourite books, Katherine by Anya Seton, a book I’ve mentioned in interviews and FAQs quite a few times before, and I thought everyone must have one or more, probably many more. So what is your (or one of your) favourite all-time reads?
Katherine by Anya Seton is a book I read – and wait for this – forty years ago. Yes, I am that old. I was in my teens when I first read this. I loved reading and couldn’t get my hands on enough books at the time. I particularly liked meaty sagas. You know the kind I mean, the book of substance, the book that had an important message to tell, of an event we should never forget, or a book that was based on a true story, or my favourite type – historical fiction. The longer the meaty saga, the more I loved to bury myself in it. A book of a thousand pages would not be daunting to me back then, but would excite me. And yes, I didn’t have many friends. I lived on a farm that was not within walking distance of my school, so it was hard to have anyone come over. I was too young to drive the family car, and my family had only one car at the time with three children older than me. Being shy and awkward didn’t help my social life either. Books were my constant companions. Books were my friends. The school library was one of my favourite places in the world.
I can’t recall how many times I read the true story of Katherine Swynford (Roet) and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, written by Anya Seton, but it was a substantial number. It had everything I loved, especially a to-die-for romance. You know the kind, the dangerous clandestine, cloak-and-dagger affair of a prince with the daughter of an obscure Picard herald who spent five years in a nunnery and came to Medieval court at fifteen. There were castles and gallantry, knights, lords and ladies, kings and queens, battles and plagues. And though Anya Seton penned “Katherine” more than 60 years ago, other than a change in writing styles from then to nowadays, this novel hasn’t dated and likely never will.
Goodreads says it well: “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—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.”
Do you have an All-Time Favourite read? Or have you read “Katherine” by Anya Seton? Love to hear your thoughts.