This novel convincingly portrays a young Katharina Von Bora, a woman who would have been long forgotten were it not for her own boldness and choice of husband. Like thousands of other young girls, Katharina was sent to a convent to relieve her family of the burden of raising and marrying her off. Unlike almost all who had come before her, Katherina chose a different path than the convent at great risk, a path one might say indicates greater faith in God than a lifetime in a nunnery.
Skea does a marvelous job of filling in the gaps in Katharina's life - of which there are many - while working within the framework of known historical facts. It would have been tempting for an author to write Martin and Katharina's story as more romantic than it truly was, but Skea does not give in to this temptation. Katharina makes a decision based on much more than passionate love, a type of decision that is rarely made in modern courtships, and this story is faithfully told.
Though Martin Luther is not heavily featured until later in Katherina's story, he is present through quotes that appear at the beginning of each chapter, giving the reader the sensation that the two were on paths destined to intersect long before they knew each other. While their courtship is not the stuff of a romantic blockbuster movie, we are given hints that they did indeed grow to love each other very much through glimpses of Katharina later in life.
Neither Martin nor Katharina is perfect. Luther's fiery temper and impetuosity is on display, as is Katharina's willingness to firmly defend her own opinions. It is made clear that neither was the other's first choice, but they both determined to make the marriage work, not only for their own sake but for the greater glory of God. 'He is a good man, who, if some of his wilder impulses can be contained, may yet become great.' Become great he did, with an amazing woman to support him.
I am excited to read more of Katharina's story in Skea's next book.
I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.