Book Review: Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

lutherandkatharina_jodyhedlund_waterbrookpressFrom the back cover:

She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.  

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.
 
His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself. 
 
Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different. 
 
But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. 
 
Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

Whether you prefer historical fiction or historical romance (the author’s recent blogpost http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2015/09/whats-difference-between-historical-and.html gave a good explanation/reminder of the difference), Jody Hedlund’s Luther and Katharina is a novel that will give you much to enjoy.   As someone who reads both, this was a novel that encompassed the two and satisfied on all accounts.

“He would have to pray that this woman’s family would take her back, or God pity the man who would end up as her husband.” (pg 46)

While I was familiar with the very basics of who Martin Luther was and the reforms that are attributed to him, I had no concept of who he was as a man. And while I had heard that he was a former monk who married a former nun, this novel was the first place that I ever heard the name of Katharina von Bora. Jody Hedlund manages to breathe life into these two historical figures, and sweeps the reader along in a story of peril, intrigue, dedication, betrayal, faith and love. She even manages to explain antiquated customs without the unfortunate info-dumping that historical fiction authors are sometimes prone to.

5/5 stars, from the convent escape to the birth of their first child, this story of deepening and changing faith, love and (eventually) forsaking pride takes the reader on a journey that gives a glimpse of radical changes to class and religion as they took root in the 16th century.

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund | Waterbrook Press, October 6, 2015 | paperback, 380 pgs

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