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Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau

Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife - Anne Boileau

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. 



This is the third fictional account I have read about Katharina von Bora and, despite knowing her life quite well do I never get tired of reading about her life. I find it interesting to see how different authors will retell her life and I think that having Katharina write down her life as she is bedridden awaiting her first child was a wonderful idea. Yes, this means that the story will not retell her whole life, but you do get a wonderfully vivid account of her growing up, her life as a nun, and the time after she left the convent, and her new life with Martin.

I especially liked how Katharina von Bora life as a nun was described, and how the impact Luther's pamphlets had on her and the other nuns. For many women was becoming a nun nothing they have decided for themselves instead it was often their parents' decision and having to sacrifice the chance for a family of one's own was not an easy thing. Nevertheless, it was not an easy thing to leave the convent, to not be a nun anymore. Another thing I liked about the story was that the author did not portray Katharina and Martin as a couple

in love. He did really propose to her fellow nun Ava first and he never claimed to be in love with her. However, I loved the scene when he told her that he is not in love with her, but he thinks that love will grow between them. That I think was such a perfect way of describing their life together. They grew to love each other.

I liked this book very much, I would have loved to read more about their lives together. However, it was quite logical to end the book with the birth of their first child. I also liked that his was really Katharina von Bora story, Martin Luther is as well a very interesting character, but I love reading books from women's perspective of a relationship, especially famous relationship.

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About the author: 
Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as 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.