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Anya Seton's historical fiction seems to age very well. I read Green Darkness many years ago and it remains one of my all time favorites, in my favorite genre. I listened to Katherine several years back and became impressed with Ms. Seton's talent once again.
The Winthrop woman tells the story of Elizabeth Winthrop, the daughter-in-law/niece of John Winthrop, a strict Puritan and a founding governor of the Massachusetts Colony in the first half of the 17th Century. While Elizabeth actually existed, and due to her relationship to John Winthrop whose life was well documented, we know many of the "facts" of her life - her parentage, her move to the new world, her marriages - we don't have the knowledge of the details of her life like we do Elizabeth I or Marie Antoinette. In many ways she was a "nobody" and the details of their lives seldom survive. But somehow, in a time when women were definitely "background" and men made history, there are a few incidences in her life that stood out at the time and have survived. These set her apart from the thousands of faceless women who lived her same life.
Ms. Seton took the few facts at hand and built a readable romance novel. If that is all it was, I would say this was an adequate book. But she then added layers of facts about the time Elizabeth lived and the larger than life historical figures she knew and created a strong work of historical fiction. She breathed life and sympathy into historical figures that are typically seen as caricatures or cardboard cutouts of real people. Especially John Winthrop. She made a man historically portrayed as cold and unlikeable, into a man with flaws who constantly doubted himself and struggled to live the life he preached. We will never know how accurate her interpretation of the man was, but by making him more human, it mad me more curious to learn more of the truth about the man. This is what elevated my overall rating of the book.
Elizabeth Winthrop lived and survived in a critical period of history. The mere fact that she survived and thrived an adventure that most who attempted it did not, makes her worthy of remembering. The fact that as a woman of the time, she was visible and vocal enough that her name was written down and her life remembered at all, makes this book worth reading.
The narrator did an excellent job.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
This book has everything you could ever want in an epic novel. It contains historical fact Prada live by irresistible characters. You will fall in love with the main character, Elizabeth, who endures all kinds of adventures and challenges throughout her life. There is love, jealousy, heartbreak, joy, and everything in between. Clearly, one of the best books I've ever read. I can't wait to read / listen to another book from this author.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful