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Loving Luther – A Novel, by Allison Pittman (Book Review)

Loving Luther – A Novel, by Allison Pittman (Book Review)

Overview

‘Loving Luther’ is a work of historical fiction. However, it is founded very much on the relationship of Katharina von Bora to Church reformer, Martin Luther. Their marriage comes just 8 years after Luther’s astonishing start in taking the Protestant Reformation out of the Catholic Church. 

Katharina von Bora was a remarkable woman; born in September 1499, growing up in a Benedictine nunnery from age 5, later reading Martin Luther’s words in a pamphlet, then fleeing the (second) Cistercian monastery and eventually marrying Martin Luther in September 1525. 

This was also the beginning of the ‘Protestant family’, as started by Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. It’s truly is a wonderful story!

The Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and is a three-time Christy Award finalist. 

She lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Mike. 

Readers can connect with Allison on Facebook (Allison Pittman author), on Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or on her website: allisonkpittman.com 

The Book

The author writes about Katharine’s life within the convent, and puts across a very helpful understanding of just how sincere her relationship was with God. 

Presumably this was what had brought her attention to Luther’s writings. 

It’s really interesting that there is little historical information on Katharine and Luther’s marriage, whilst there is a huge amount of other information regarding the Reformation and the impact on the Catholic Church. 

I think the author constructs this novel well, in terms of the information available. She sticks strictly to what is known historically (see Google under Katharina von Bora). 

The Protestant Reformation supposedly began on 31 October 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door on the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. It seems unlikely that this happened, but books tell us that the Reformation began around this time. 

Having read Nick Page’s book recently, ‘A Nearly Infallible History of the Reformation’ (Hodder Faith), it’s quite clear that, in the last 500 years, Martin Luther’s story was edited very successfully. Even his own words were taken out of his books! Some of his content and language was clearly not good! Nick Page discusses this in his own book, and it’s obviously clear that Martin Luther was a rather unusual and idiosyncratic person! 

Luther was involved in helping 12 nuns, including Katharina, to flee from a monastery and be taken to Wittenberg. Luther then arranged for them to be housed, married or employed. Katherina had some suitors but did not marry. Eventually, it was Luther himself that married Katharina von Bora in 1525.

This may not have been all about love, but about the fact that she needed a husband and he, Luther, needed to be married. Marriage was a ‘big deal’ for Luther, and it took him some time to accept this himself. Monks did not marry!

Luther was clearly not a man who everyone trusted, although there were many who did and who put their faith in what he said. What we do know, however, is that his wedding and marriage to Katharina von Bora was a huge success, and indeed was the basis of Protestant marriage going forward for many years.

Katharina was clearly an able and godly person, and well equipped to live with Martin Luther. He obviously loved her very much, from what he - and others - have written about them both. 

Katharina bore six children: Hans (b.1526), Elizabeth (b.1527) who died at eight months, Magdalena (b.1529) who died at thirteen years, Martin (b.1531), Paul (b.1533), and Margarete (b.1534); in addition she suffered a miscarriage on 1 November 1539. The Luther’s also raised four orphan children, including Katharina's nephew, Fabian

Luther was heartbroken when his daughter, Magdalena, died in her teens: 

’The tenderness of the father’s heart is so great that we cannot think of it as without sobs and sighs, which tear asunder the heart’. 

The book certainly helps us understand some of the complexities of the Reformation period. I think it’s particularly good for us to look well beyond what Martin Luther was teaching, and to see him with his wife in a good family situation which worked very well - and a marriage which has come down into modern society.

I rarely read fiction, but this historical novel reads well. There are hints throughout the book of some of Luther’s main issues, and Katharina von Bora comes over exceptionally well. Overall, the book is very good indeed. 

Eddie Olliffe

Bookseller and Distributor for the past 35 years. Now Consulting Editor of Together Magazine. I blog on Christian Spirituality, UK Publishing and Bookselling matters.

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Loving Luther (Paper Back)
Pittman, Allison
Retail price: £12.50
Your price: £9.50

Nearly Infallible History of the Reformation, A. (Hard Cover)
Page, Nick
Retail price: £18.99
Your price: £14.99

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