Title – Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife
Author – Anne Boileau
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 224 Pages
Publication – 4th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
On 31st October 1517 Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman. Anne Boileau lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as an interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.
The tale of Katharina & Martin Luther is something I knew nothing of before reading this book and it opened my eyes to what must have been a very difficult period to live through.
Martin Luther was a monk many years ago now. He spoke out against the Church and helped bring the bible to the masses by translating the book from Latin.
Truth be told religion is just the background of the book.. the real tale is how Katherina and Martin came to be married and let me tell you… it’s a engrossing read
The background of Katharina and how she became a nun was interesting but the story really kicked off when Katharina started to read the works of Martin Luther. Inspired by the man she decides the life of a nun is no longer for her and writes to the man himself for help
With Martin’s help Katharina and a number of other nuns forge new lives for themselves.
Katharina was clearly a strong minded woman and ultimately ends up being married to Martin (I won’t spoil how this comes about). At first more out of respect more than anything else but both agree they hope love will flourish. I loved the honesty of these two.
What I really enjoyed about this tale was seeing how two such strong characters came together to be one and worked with each other..loved each other… they each gave the other what they needed.
The book also shows how attitudes have changes over the years. How Katharina being a woman meant at times she didn’t have a say.. her views didn’t count. It was fascinating to see how she handled this and ultimately showed her worth to the man she came to love
There is so much depth to this book, I just loved it from start to finish
I’m a big fan of women is history and this is another wonderful example of someone who might easily be overlooked. Yes Martin initiated the Reformation but Katharina was an essential part of that in her own way and it was a joy to read things from her perspective
Overall this was a very beautifully written book which gave life to Katharina. Very moving at times and educational for myself which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Inspiring is the word I’d use for this book. What Katharina must have been going through I can’t imagine but I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of her. She knows what she wants and is perfectly matched with Martin Luther
I’d love to read more
Fascinating tale, take a look. The Book is released tomorrow!!!
My thanks go to Authoright and Anne Boileau for the chance to read/review the book
As a bonus i’m also able to bring you a little background on the author who very kindly took the time to share the insight into her life with me.. enjoy
I was born in Boxford, Suffolk, England, where my parents had a small mixed farm. We had two hundred laying hens, six breeding sows, some arable land and two horses.
I watched the sows feeding their piglets. On the inside walls of the pig sties were some drawings of elegant ladies with large hats; my father told me they were made ten years before by German prisoners of war. Well, I knew there had been a war because grownups used to say things like “since the war” or “before the war” But they never actually talked about the war itself or what it was about.
I was happy at my school, and I loved my friends, our animals and village life. But when I was six my father fell ill and died. It was just after the Coronation. My mother was devastated and moved us up north to a remote farmhouse on the edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. At my new school the other children thought I was foreign because of my Suffolk accent and I had trouble understanding them; so I became solitary and learnt to watch and observe; and I wrote little illustrated stories about animals and their adventures.
When I was ten I went to a lovely boarding school. We were not allowed to telephone home, but every Sunday we had to write at least two sides to our parents. To this day I love writing letters to friends and family.
My schooling was erratic and my exam results poor, so instead of university I travelled to the USA and Canada, doing various jobs. Eventually, I enrolled in the Language School in Munich and studied German. I was then able to get work as a translator and interpreter.
I met a wonderful man, we married and raised two daughters; I taught languages in Colchester, Essex. I then went back to college and studied for a BSc degree in Rural Resource Development at Anglia University, Chelmsford.
This led to my working for various conservation organisations. I wrote articles for local magazines, and gave talks, campaigning for environmental causes. But in 1999 my life was turned upside down a second time, when my beloved husband fell ill and died, aged only 57. Our daughters had recently left home and we were thrown into grief and confusion.
Writing became my survival kit. I wrote a book about my husband called Simple Symphony. I wrote poems, read poems, studied poetry and joined a group who translate German poems into English. Through poetry I have made some wonderful friends. I wrote a book about my early childhood, called White Sand Grey Sand. My pamphlet Shoal Moon was published by Grey Hen Press in 2014.
I have had several poems published in magazines and anthologies and won a few commendations. And ten years after encountering Katharina, I began to research and write her story.
What drew me to this woman? Was it my Lutheran great-great-grandmother, from Königsberg in East Prussia, from whom we had inherited German part songs, handed down mother to daughter? Or was it my Huguenot refugee ancestor on my father’s side, Charles Boileau, who arrived in England with nothing but his charm, and married a farmer’s daughter in Barnes? Or was it the fact that in both my parent’s families there has been a tradition of Anglican country parsons over several generations? Whatever it was, I was drawn to her story, which in some ways resonated with my own.
With Camden Mews Translators we translate German poetry to throw light upon what is good about German culture. We British know and love German composers and their music is frequently performed and enjoyed. But how much do we know about German history and literature? JS Bach took Luther’s simple but poetic version of the New Testament to write his unparalleled works of the St Matthew and St John Passions, sung and celebrated by so many choirs at Easter. And yet, if you Google the name Martin Luther, (or ask a library assistant) the response usually comes back: Do you mean Martin Luther King? No I don’t. I mean the rebellious monk in Wittenberg who defied the Pope and translated the Bible into vernacular for the common people; who changed the course of European History and became known as the Nightingale of Wittenberg.
That is why I have written this story; and it is told not by him but by the woman who was at his side, in the very eye of the storm.