And then I read "Katherine". Since then, I am on a kick to see how the whole Lancaster thing started, reading John Gardner's 1977 work on Chaucer, and taking shots at what before now was an inaccessible Shakespeare play - "Richard II". It is a sort of a rush - before the last few weeks, I have never read Chaucer, previously knew little about the Peasant's Revolt, or even thought about that complex king, Richard II (pictured here addressing the rebels in Froissart).
Anya Seton, through what must have been a sustained period of thoroughly hard, painstaking work, created a masterpiece in "Katherine". Never have I seen a great man's mistress so nobly and sympathetically described. One roots for her from page one. And so much happens in her 53 years, events in a life made to fit into a span replete with thematic and dramatic content, a love affair of four decades with its own epic conclusions. Historical fiction at its classic best.
Old John of Gaunt, what a lady killer. Katherine, lithe and pleasing. I think it was good to read Weir's biography of Katherine before the novel because it gave me background in a period I knew naught of, and underscored that this novel, though of a real historical remarkable lady, had its wellspring in recorded fact. The encounters described, one thinks, may very well have happened that way, and did so as all literature exists to me from some kernel of truth embossed in beautiful soul moving language.