Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Wedensday Royal Review...
Katherine by Anya Seton: I finally finished this book. I am not really good at writing reviews, so here goes.
Katherine de Roet was raised in a convent until she was called to court by her sister Phillipa at the age of 15. Phillipa was a ladies maid for Queen Phillipa the wife of Edward III. In those days the Ladies in Waiting worked their rears off for the Queen and your station in life had little to do with being one of her maids. Katherine came to court and was blown away by this new and different lifestyle. She immediately became friends with the Duchess of Lancaster, Blanche, the wife of John of Ghent. Katherine was having a grand ole time attending jousts, fairs, games, and feasts until one evening a Knight tried to rape her in the bushes. She was really in for it until all of the sudden she was rescued by this big tall handsome man, the Duke of Lancaster. It was love at first sight on Katherine's part, for the Duke, she was just another fair maid and he was loyal to his wife.
The knave, Hugh Swymford, who tried to rape her ended up marrying her. The Duke approved the match, in fact he encouraged it, because after all what better chance in life would Katherine have than to marry a Knight. Katherine's sister was actually jealous that Katherine was to be married to a Knight. She would have such riches and a beautiful home, who cared if the guy was an ugly brute who tried to rape you, at least you would have notoriety. Hugh carts Katherine off to his family estate which is a run down castle with a crazy woman who talks with the river children living in the turret. The serfs are all a bunch lazy pigs according to Hugh and he proceeds to beat them back into servitude while Katherine runs to furtherest most corners of the castle trying to avoid his caveman advances.
She gets pregnant immediately and Hugh goes to war. The plague comes and the Duchess of Lancaster gets it, Katherine leaves her baby in the care of her sister and goes to help the Duchess. Katherine can't get the plague because she already had it as a child, so apparently she is immune. The Duchess dies and everyone is grieving. The Duke returns from war and is an emotional mess because of his wife. He finds out that Katherine was there to take care of her and wouldn't you know it falls madly in love with her. She of course is a very pious young woman and refuses the Duke's advances because of her darling Hugh, she must remain loyal, but oh the pain in both of their hearts. The Duke doesn't give up. He is going to get married again for political advantage and decides the best way to be around Katherine and wear down her defenses is to make her his new wife's lady in waiting. Well, that's when all the intrigue, suffering and self-deprecation begins.
They say truth is stranger than fiction it's true in this story. Katherine sort of reminds of Tammy Wynett singing Stand by Your Man , which was a little sickening at times. She was a tragic figure in history. She did leave an amazing legacy through her children by the Duke of Lancaster.
Anya Seton is an amazing author, her detail on the period is astounding. It is well worth the read, just be prepared that it isn't a fast read. The only complaint I have is that sometimes it was just too wordy. You will learn a great deal about the Plantagenet's,the late 14th century,and what not to do if a Duke rescues from being raped in the bushes.
I give this 4 stars ****