Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Challenge - Day 6: "Favorite"

With the recent news about the discovery of Richard III's skeleton under a parking lot in England, I have been reminded of one of my favorite favorites. Katherine, by Anya Seton, is one of my lifetime favorite books. It is a historical fiction/romance novel about the love affair between John of Gaunt, Prince of England and head of the House of Lancaster and Katherine de Roet Swynford, daughter of a knight in service to Gaunt's mother, Queen Philippa (wife of Edward III.) Their relationship lasted many years, throughout his first two marriages and into their own marriage, making her his third wife. A decendant of one of their children (surnamed Beaufort) was Henry Tudor, who eventually challenged and defeated Richard III on Bosworth's Field and became Henry VII, the first Tudor king. 

I will admit that there is something of the heaving bosom/throbbing member genre in Katherine, but the history is correct and the author does a good job drawing you into the story and making you cheer for the heroine. It is a little bit of a guilty pleasure book, one that I have indulged in many times. 

I think what I like most about the book is that the love of the story is shared closely in my circle of friends and family. The paperback copy I am looking at right now is inscribed inside the cover "December 25, 1972, to Annette from Iris." That's my oldest sister. In 1972, I would have been fifteen years old. Both my sisters, my nieces and my dearest friend, Maureen, have read and loved this story.  

 In the early 1990's, my two sisters, Maureen and I went to Europe for a tour of Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland. We had the first day free for touring in London and our list of "must sees" was long. High on the list was a visit to St. Paul's to see the tomb of John of Gaunt. Finding the tomb was, in itself, an adventure. He was buried in Old St. Paul's, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Currently there is a memorial plaque/wall in the basement of the new St. Paul's honoring those who were buried in the old cathedral. When we got to the basement, we found the target area roped off and draped for construction repairs. Our disappointment must have been expressed loudly, because a very polite security volunteer arrived and asked if he could assist us. We told him our story; he smiled and escorted us behind the curtain to see and photograph the memorial. My guess is that we were not the first group of women coming to St. Paul's to swoon over John of Gaunt. 

I haven't found the photo of the tomb, but this one is of the four of us outside Buckingham Palace on the same day. What a happy day, a happy memory and another great story.

Thanks for stopping by today; see you tomorrow.        


  1. I really liked this book, too. The story was especially interesting to me because John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford (born de Roet) are my 16th great-grandparents. John "Fairborn" Beaufort, the oldest son of their relationship, is my ancestor. I know it wouldn't be as exciting as visiting his tomb, but I'll let you touch me next time you come over if you want to. :)

  2. Linda, I am excited to inform you, that you have shot to the top of the "Competition to Be Annette's Closest Friend." It's like playing Chutes and Ladders when you land on that one really long ladder that takes you up, almost to the end of the game. I am so glad you are a member of the Katherine inner circle.

  3. LOL, Good! I was hoping to impress you. (Perhaps I shouldn't mention that John and Katherine were one pair out of the 130,952 pairs of 16th great-grandparents each of us has.)