The great thing about being in a book club is the number of books I’ve read which i wouldn’t normally have chosen. Unknown authors, new authors, classics i somehow missed, genres I wouldn’t usually choose… I don’t always like or enjoy the books we read, but they all add something, give me something, teach me something – and I have been introduced to some authors I’m really glad I’ve ‘met’! The bonus of reading groups is the new, different and lovely people I’ve met, and true friendships which have been forged!
For my history book club next month we are reading a book by Anya Seton. When I found out I thought to myself that I’d read a lot of her books when I was young… but actually I don’t think I had. The book chosen is ‘Katherine’ about the relationship between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, who was the Duke of Lancaster and a son of Edward III. It was written in 1954, and has an easy, old-fashioned style started reading it, I was amazed at the detail and the amount of research she must have undertaken to write it. I’ll probably quite enjoy it, but probably won’t want to read any more by Seton.
I realised I knew nothing about her, and was surprised to find that she was American, born in 1904 in Manhattan and her birth name was Ann but I think Anya is a very pretty name! Her family were extremely wealthy and she married twice and had several children. Her first novel, ‘My Theodosia’ was published in 1941, when she was thirty-seven years old and she went on to write many more. She has been criticised for some historical inaccuracies in her stories, but they are fiction, and surely the truth can be elastic in a novel? I have a very poor knowledge of the period in which ‘Katherine’ is set – maybe I will be inspired to find out more – so whether the story is accurate or not, it will probably lead me to learning about a period of history of which at present I’m ignorant!