Monday, April 24, 2017

Luther and Katharina: a Novel of Love and Rebellion

By Michelle Ule 

 Jody Hedlund's Luther and Katharina: a Novel of Love and Rebellion, won the 2016 Christy award for best historical fiction.

 As a Lutheran, I read the book with interest--curious about what she could show me concerning the founder of my church.

 Hedlund did not disappoint, fashioning a romantic, sensual tale of a man who rarely seemed that way to me!

 She provides excellent insight into the lives of nuns and reformers in medieval Germany 500 years ago--a challenge from modern day America.

 I learned much about the reasons for Luther nailing those 95 theses to the Wittenberg door. I was horrified to discover the depravity that took place in convents.

Grounded in research into the time, Luther and Katharina spins the tale of two people who felt unloved by their families.

She provides an interesting twist and explanation into their historic behavior, though no one can really know for sure.

Hedlund makes other historical characters come to life in their conversations and actions. Who knew those reformers had such a sense of humor?

Other than the brilliant, though flawed, Martin Luther himself.

Katharina 

Little is known about Katharina. Only eight letters she wrote survive, according to her biographer Michelle DeRusha.

This provided Hedlund with ample opportunity to embroider her story.

Unfortunately, I found some of it a little of a stretch. In Luther and Katharina, we see rebellion in some of Katharina's behavior--which puts her into danger.

At least twice, Hedlund gives Martin Luther a type of superhero status--riding off into the countryside swinging a sword to save the day.

Given the man had health problems and was an ancient 40 at the time, such behavior struck me as out of place.

Even if it was romantic.

All the same, Luther and Katharina is a worthy investment of time. I learned a great deal and enjoyed it.

For a fuller examination of fact and fiction in the Luther romance, see my blog post: Mr. & Mrs. Luther in Fact and Fiction.

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Bestselling historical novelist Michelle Ule is the biographer of Mrs. Oswald Chambers, coming from Baker Books in October 2017. For more about her and her writing--and to investigate the stories
behind the writing of the biography--visit her website at www.michelleule.com

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