Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why I Love Anya Seton - Guest post by Carol (Cat)

My love affair with Anya Seton's historical novels began a long time ago when I was a teenager in the 1960's. Katherine was the first 'grownup' historical fiction I read and what better choice for a romantic young girl than this classic medieval love story, although at the end it wasn't the author who had captured my heart but the dashing John of Gaunt. The beginning of an allegiance to the Beauforts and the red rose of Lancaster that is as strong today as it was then.

I went on to read all of her books and love them all but have never until now had to ask myself why. What was it that appealed to me so much then......and still does now?

I love her characters and her ability to breathe life into historical figures that previously have only been names on a page, strange and stiff portraits or effigys on stone tombs. Her fictional characters are equally as interesting and created with a fine attention to detail of the period they lived in.

Anya Seton creates warm and real people I can relate to on an emotional level ; sharing their daily lives, their adventures , their love stories , their trials and tribulations.

I especially love the women in Anya Seton's books. Katherine, Elizabeth in The Winthrop Woman and Sante Fe Cameron in The Turquoise are examples of her strong , free thinking and independent protaganists yet who are also women desiring a relationship filled with passion and love. Considering the decades in which her books were written , the 1940 - 1960's, this was an important message she was passing on to her young female readers.

I love the fact that Anya Seton never restricted herself to one place or one period of time . Each of her books offers a new experience in both learning and entertainment as she moves effortlessly from medieval England to Puritan Massachusetts, from 10th century Cornwall to New Mexico.

I love knowing that her historical background was meticulously researched and I can trust what I'm reading is as accurate as possible. The two most important qualities of a good historical novel are a strong background and strong characterisation .........even more important is the ability to create a balance between the two so the result is neither too serious nor too frivolous. Anya Seton succeeded admirably in achieving this and, together with a few other writers of the time , deserves the recognition of being a forerunner of the fine historical fiction we enjoy today.

Nostalgia plays a role in why I love Anya Seton but I still enjoy rereading her books , I love seeing them available in new editions and hope she will continue to captivate readers for a long time.


  1. Katherine is one of my favorite books and a must read for lovers of historical fiction. I tried Green Darkness but the mystical feel to it turned me off and I didn't finish it. I would like to read more from her and have a couple on my shelf.

  2. I've been going through her backlist and I have TWW in the TBR to start soon but now you made me want to go out and look for a copy of The Turquoise...

  3. I also read, and loved, Katherine as a teen, and yes, John of Gaunt has stuck in my mind all these years.

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  5. What a lovely appreciation piece for a fine historical novelist! The only thing that strikes me whilst reading this is that I don't really know anything about Anya Seaton herself - I wonder what kind of life she had and when and where?!

    Thanks for sharing


  6. Hmmm...I've never read anything by Seton before. Any novel of hers in particular you recommend I try first?

  7. Kristen, according to our poll the favourite is Katherine so maybe you could start with that one. I hope you enjoy it!

  8. It was difficult to pick a favorite in the poll. I remember loving them all. I believe I must begin rereading these.