Friday, December 8, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

What a wonderful book I just read! Loving Luther by Allison Pittman was utterly captivating.

I’d seen the book on Netgalley and thought about requesting it because the subject interested me: a fictional biography of Katharina von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife. But I was dissuaded by the cover. (I know that’s not how I should judge a book.) The pretty, rather flirty woman gazing out from the cover made me think the book would be less serious, more of a Romance. And while I certainly read Historical Romance, I admit to being squeamish about reading one featuring Martin Luther as alpha male.

However, at the end of October, with the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing his Theses to the church door in Wittenberg and kicking off the Reformation, bits of Luther’s biography made its way into my consciousness in various venues. The fact that he was an ex-monk who married an ex-nun is a great basis for a historical novel. So I decided to give the book a shot.

I’m so glad! This is a beautiful, thoughtful story that explores the emotional and spiritual journey of this strong, independent-minded woman.

We are introduced to Katharina as a six-year-old child, abandoned at the door of an abbey by a weak-willed and impoverished father. She has a good family name and memories of her dead mother, but nothing else. Nothing unless you count her deep faith, inner strength, and innate intelligence. She is befriended by two slightly older girls who teach her the ropes, along with a bit of mischief and subdued subversion.

Katharina grows to young adulthood under the care of nuns. When she comes of age, despite serious doubts about her calling, she sees no choice but to take the veil. The novel portrays life in a nunnery in compelling, realistic detail–the good and the bad.

Although a devoted Christian, she continues to harbor doubts about God’s plan for her. When one of her friends begins smuggling in the writings of Martin Luther, Katharina’s consciousness awakes. She becomes a leader of a group of discontented, similarly questioning women. And when the chance arises, she leads the escape, orchestrated on the outside by Luther.

Luther understands the dilemma facing women who have fled the convent. They have nothing to their names. They can only hope their families take them back or that they will find husbands quickly. As he has an extensive network of friends from many backgrounds, he is quick to arrange introductions for those who need them. In the novel, at least, these introductions lead to happy marriages. Except for Katharina.

There is mutual admiration and friendship between Luther and Katharina from the moment they meet. But she doesn’t jump from the nunnery into his arms. Luther is significantly older, poor, and dedicated to his work. He’s attracted to her, but tries to set her up with someone more suitable, someone with more to offer.

Historically, we know how this is going to work out. Still, the pleasure in reading this novel comes from the way their relationship plays out. So without giving any more of the plot arc away, I’ll just reiterate what a lovely story it is. Pittman does this remarkable true love story justice. Highly recommended!


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  2. Being Lutheran it was a nice story explaining the early years of the Reformation with Luther and Kate. What she had to endure in her childhood and when she found happiness.

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