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Luther and Katharina ~ Review and Author Interview

Luther and Katharina
A Novel of Love and Rebellion
By Jody Hedlund

Katharina von Bora was of the noble class given to the church at a young age.  But she dreamed of a life outside Abbey after reading the words of Martin Luther.  But escaping from the cloister was only the beginning.  Her life as a nun had not prepared her for what laid beyond the world she knew.

Martin Luther wanted change - a return to the Scriptures.  But the reform he sought was being used as a means of seeding rebellion and revolution across Germany.  But rebellion against the nobility could end the princes's protection of the Reformation.

Plagued by doubts Luther suffered as outside pressures and expectations closed in around him.  Determined to stay apart from the world and its temptations, Luther never planned to marry.  But our plans are not necessarily God's plans.

Katharina was not a woman whom one would expect to lower herself to wed a man of a lower class And yet she had nothing to tempt a man of nobility - no dowry, a name without a title, and a quickly passing youth.

Many are familiar with Martin Luther and the Reformation which he helped flame into being, but the woman he married is not as well known to the general population.  This is their story - Martin Luther had already flamed the flames of reform across Germany when his words reached Katharina in the cloister in which she had spent 19 years.  His words gave her the courage needed to leave behind all that she knew.  She in turn would help him conquer the doubts and fears which lead to bouts of depression.

Two more unlikely people would never be expected to make a marriage and yet they were who the other needed - each a strength to the other's weaknesses.  Katharina was the woman who was meant to marry the man who was viewed as the reformation and he was the man meant to marry a woman who escaped the life of a nun.

This is a story of sacrifice and change.  A story of love unexpected.  A story of new beginnings.

Some aspects of the traditions and expectations of this time are rather shocking and perhaps a tad disturbing.  It is interesting to see the differences with how they lived compared to how we live today.  Perhaps we would have a greater appreciation of what we now enjoy if we could experience even a day or two of their lives.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's reform efforts it is amazing to see how far we have come and yet many are still searching for the way to win God's favor.

Discover the woman who reformed the reformer by marrying him and taking his name as her own.

I was provided an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Interview:

1. Your latest book, Luther and Katharina, details the true romance between Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. What led you to this remarkable story?

As I homeschooled my children and gave them history lessons, I began learning a lot about some of the great heroes of the faith. I was particularly fascinated by the wives of these great heroes, especially those who were long forgotten by our modern world, women who had stood by their husband’s sides during dangerous times and had helped shape those men into the heroes they became. I wanted to bring these women to life for our modern generation. I wanted to tell their stories.

Katharina von Bora is one of those women who has been largely ignored by today's culture, but she's a strong woman whose story deserves to be told every much as her husband's. I'm excited about sharing her story, about her daring and dangerous escape from a convent, how she met Luther, and how the two of them overcame many obstacles to eventually fall in love and form a strong marriage.

2. Katharina von Bora is a name that most people would never connect with Martin Luther. Why do you think it’s important that we uncover and shine a light on some of the forgotten female figures who helped shape the Church?

My goal is to give a voice to the forgotten women of the past. Since most of history has been written by men, unfortunately all too often the accounts neglect to include or minimizes the many women who played critically important roles in the shaping of history.

As a mother of five children and a wife to a husband in Christian ministry, I've had a firsthand learning experience of the incredible work load and responsibility that comes with raising a family, being a wife, managing a home, as well as helping do all of the things necessary to provide emotionally, physically, and financially for our family. As I go about this calling God's given me at this stage in my life, I have a greater appreciation for the women of the past who also struggled through the same issues (but without all of the modern conveniences that I have!).

I believe modern women will benefit from hearing their stories, will be incredibly encouraged to see these women who persevered through discrimination and found the strength to use their God-given abilities to make a difference. Not only did they make a difference in their era, but today (decades and even centuries later) we can see the fruits of their bravery and strength. These women of the past have encouraged me to persevere and to use my skills and talents to make a difference in my time. No matter how big or small that difference might be, I want to be faithful to leave an impact, just as those women did

3. What was the biggest surprise in researching this story?

As I dug into the research, the thing that surprised me most was that Luther and Katharina didn't experience "love at first sight." In fact, they had no thought of marrying each other. Katharina was a woman of noble birth and Luther a man of peasant beginnings. They were in two different social classes, which doesn't sound like a big deal to us today. But at that time, social class was extremely important.

After leaving the convent, Katharina expected to marry a nobleman. And even though Luther preached the goodness of marriage and encouraged other monks and nuns to leave their convents and get married, he had no intention of getting married himself. So, the question begs answering, how did these two opposite people with opposing personalities and aspirations, end up together? You'll have to read the book to discover the answer!

4. At the time of the story, how were Luther’s teachings and writings already inspiring change and revolution?

At the start of the book in 1523, Martin Luther had already been declared a heretic by the pope and the church. He'd already nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg church (which detailed his concerns about the corruption within the church). He'd already faced an inquisition by important people sent by the pope in the city of Worms. He'd faced the Emperor himself and had refused to recant his teachings and writings. He'd been excommunicated and declared a heretic. And since that time he'd essentially been hunted down so that he could be burned at the stake for his beliefs.

Luther went into hiding for a time, but continued to write and preach. During that time, his band of followers began to grow exponentially. As Luther's popularity grew, his teachings spread and made their way secretly into the convent where Katharina lived. When Katharina and some of the other nuns heard Luther's views on the unnaturalness of cloistered life and the goodness of marriage,
something about his message resonated deeply within them. And their lives (and many others like them) would never be the same again.

It's also thought by some that Luther's teachings incited the peasants in Germany to revolt against authority. Although Luther was of peasant origin and was tempted to side with the peasants, he maintained his relationship with the Elector and a number of other princes.They finally gave the Reformation and the gospel their allegiance in a move that likely wouldn’t have happened had Luther sided with the peasants during the Peasant Revolt. He had alienated himself from the peasant class, but in doing so had preserved the success of the Reformation.

5. Beyond the entertainment factor, what do you hope your books bring to your audience? What do you want a reader to walk away with after having read Luther and Katharina?

First I hope that after witnessing the great commitment of faith of believers in past ages, readers will come away with a greater commitment to their own personal faith especially in light of the difficulties and trials that may come our way. If a man like Martin Luther was willing to go to the stake for what he believed, that should give us courage. And if a woman like Katharina von Bora risked her life, comfort, and future for her growing faith, that too should inspire us to do the same.

Second, I hope that readers will have a greater appreciation and understanding of the dangers and difficulties that many went through in their efforts to preserve the gospel of Jesus and to correct corruption. Again, I ask readers to consider what they're willing to face in order to stand against corruption and to speak the truth in today's culture that is once again shifting away from Scripture.

About the Book:
Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

Jody's Bio:
Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Contact Jody:
Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund
Twitter: @JodyHedlund