Katherine by Anya Seton is one of my all time favorite books because it brings history to life while being an absolute page turner. Since I loved Katherine so much, I had very high hopes for The Winthrop Woman but unfortunately, it fell short. This review will be spoiler free.
First published in 1958 and set in the early 17th century, this bestselling novel—and follow-up to Katherine—follows Elizabeth Winthrop, a courageous Puritan woman who finds herself at odds with her heritage and surroundings. A real historical figure, Elizabeth married into the family of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In those times of hardship, famine, and Indian attacks, many believed that the only way to prosper was through the strong, bigoted, and theocratic government that John Winthrop favored. Defying the government and her family, Elizabeth befriends famous heretic Anne Hutchinson, challenges an army captain, and dares to love as her heart commanded. Through Elizabeth’s three marriages, struggles with her passionate beliefs, and countless rebellions, a powerful tale of fortitude, humiliation, and ultimate triumph shines through.
- Rating– ⭐⭐
Until this book, I hadn’t read any historical fiction about early America. I did enjoy that aspect of the story BUT man, this book dragged on and on and on. It’s a massive tome at 580 pages but the first half is quite easy to get through. Elizabeth’s early life and journey to America were so interesting to read about. I found her to be headstrong, and often foolish, but I was entertained. However, after the halfway point, I was ready to be done with this book.
Elizabeth became increasingly unlikable and her life, though probably accurate, became one series of unfortunate events after another. I don’t like reading purely fluffy, happy books but I do need an occasional break from the misery. A lot of the misery was self-inflicted, though, because Elizabeth was constantly searching for happiness while never being content with what she had. Her children weren’t enough, her husband/s weren’t enough, nothing was enough for her. Living in a Puritan society would be suffocating but for the most part, Elizabeth did whatever she wanted to do and yet, still constantly felt the world was against her. This did not change until the last couple of pages in the book.
I didn’t absolutely hate The Winthrop Woman. I love Seton’s writing and learning real historical facts about early America. There were also many good parts that were fun to read. However, I only recommend this book to die hard historical fiction and/or Anya Seton fans.
I highly recommend Katherine or Dragonwyck. Those two really prove how good of a writer Seton was. If I would have read The Winthrop Woman first, I probably wouldn’t have read anything else by her. Most people either love or hate historical fiction, how do you feel about the genre? I’d love to know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!