Weir, Alison. Katherine Swynford.
WEIR, Alison. Katherine Swynford. Read by Judith Boyd. 12 tapes. 16.75 hrs. Clipper Audio/Recorded Books. 2008. 978-1-4074-2143-6. $98.75. Vinyl; content notes. A
Inspired by Anya Seton's 1954 historical romance, Katherine, popular novelist and historian Weir chronicles the lives of John of Gaunt and his long-term mistress and eventual third wife, Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt (1340-1399) was Prince of England and Duke of Lancaster. Katherine, of humbler origin, was governess to Gaunt's children by his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Swynford bore Gaunt four children out of wedlock, who were later legitimized by the Pope upon the couple's marriage in 1396. Gaunt's ancestral line, both from his wife and his mistress, figured prominently in the War of the Roses. All British monarchs from Henry IV to the present can trace their lineage back to John of Gaunt. While records relating to Swynford are scant, Weir makes clear just how extraordinary the course of this match was for its age or any other. Swynford's sister Philippa married Geoffrey Chaucer, which allows Weir, with her customary attention to detail, to explore both the political and cultural life of the times. Boyd's affable and expressive narration keeps this biography moving briskly and helps make this complex history approachable. Francine Levitov, Attny, New York, NY