Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Luther and Katharina: a novel of Love and Rebellion - by Jody Hedlund

This was an amazing book!  It was fascinating to learn more about Martin Luther, from his love story with Katharina to the danger he endured every day after sharing the truth of the gospel, that it's by grace alone and being a nun or monk won't save you, nor will paying for an indulgence.   He was an even braver man than I had realized.  I guess I just thought that he nailed his 95 Theses to the door and that was it, but I didn't realize he kept publishing pamphlets and writing letters, tirelessly working to spread the truth and also to mediate between the nobility and peasants of Germany.  There was horrific bloodshed going on as the peasants were treated horribly by the church and the nobility so they decided to fight back, but they committed just as brutal acts including rape and murder.  Luther was trying to get both groups to see reason, all while trying to hold on to his life.

The story starts out with Katharina's night time escape in 1523, along with a group of other nuns, from the convent she's been in since a child of five.  They had read Luther's writings praising marriage and condemning a cloistered life and realized they desired to have husbands and children and denying themselves this wouldn't earn their salvation.  However, the abbot comes after them to bring them back by force.  They have help getting to Luther, but the abbot doesn't give up trying to capture them and shows up again and again later in the book.  Luther takes them in and vows to find homes for them, whether they go back to their families or find husbands.  One by one, they leave until Katharina is left.  Luther is drawn to her, but he has vowed not to marry because he doesn't want to endanger a wife.  Katharina also wants to marry someone of the nobility and have the life she deserves and Luther is not only from the peasant class, but very poor as he doesn't take payment for his writings or anything else.  He resents her pride in her nobility and her shallowness for wanting wealth and feels he can't measure up while she struggles with rejection from her family and from Luther. They fight their feelings while struggling through one misunderstanding after another.

This was a very well-written story with plenty of romance and history mixed together.  I loved learning more about this power couple and their rocky road to romance.  Hedlund really wrote them as flesh and blood people with flaws and insecurities, just like us!  They really came alive.  There were some passionate scenes, so this is probably more appropriate for older teens and adults. The historical events were fascinating and made me incredibly grateful to live in the modern era in America.  Women had very few choices back then and were at the mercy of their father or master.  The religious persecution against Luther and anyone who believed his reforms was strong, with some monks getting burned at the stake.  There were also some other frustrating and horrible events that happened that I found myself very angry about.  I had known about some of the abuses nuns suffered from monks or the church leaders over them, but it broke my heart to think what some of these women endured.  The story doesn't go into detail or get graphic, just points out the reality of what happened.  If you're looking for a wonderful love story set amid a fascinating historical and religious time period, look no further!  I highly recommend this book!

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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