Review: “Luther and Katharina” by Jody Hedlund

When writing book reviews, I always start with the best of intentions to keep my reviews precise and informative. But then feelings and stories and lovable characters get in the way. And before I know it, I’ve practically written a short story myself. But, I’ve decided this is not an editorial journal, it’s my blog, so I’m going to tell you what I think — even if it takes a few hundred extra words 🙂

This review of Jody Hedlund’s recent release – Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion – does get a little long. But I love Jody! This is the first historical from her, as opposed to her usual historical romance/YA books. That means the plot is driven more by historical events and less by relationships or romance. Don’t worry, there is still a sweet and earnest love story that unfolds. History tells us that Luther and Katharina did marry, but Jody’s style just makes their story all the more relatable.
Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Book Summary: Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

My thoughts: Jody Hedlund has successfully done something very challenging — she has written the fictional account of actual historical figures in a manner both realistic and entertaining. I applaud her for the work she put into this story to include as much historical accuracy, detail, and actual quotes from Martin Luther as possible (her website and her author’s note are very informative!). On top of all that, the story itself is riveting, spiritually deep, and romantic.

This is a very fascinating and interesting era. I can see why it is sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages: spiritual matters, including any reading of the Bible, were left up to the very high figures of the church. The concept of a personal relationship with God was revolutionary for Luther to preach. In this story, the characters are caught up in the turmoil of the era. Luther is caught between pledging loyalty to the noblemen and peasants in the Peasant War. And, Katharina is struggling to find balance between the stricture of her old life and trusting in her newfound relationship with God.

At times, this was tough to read because the lives they lived were hard, with a constant threat of persecution. These people had to deal with turmoil and real doubts in a time where spiritual leadership was severely lacking. Oh to meet them someday in heaven! I admire their faith and bravery. Little did they know this would be the start of the Protestant Reformation and how would impact Christianity.

This is the type of story with many layers and themes. The main takeaway from it, I think, is the example of how Luther and Katharina each chose to commit their whole lives to God. They left it in His hands for Him to receive glory, whether it came about through their persecution, trials, or fulfilled dreams. Trusting in God and learning from their circumstances brought about growth of character (as in the personality trait) and ultimately led to contentment with their lives.

For more info on Jody’s books, fun extras that go with Luther and Katharina, or to connect with her visit her website. If you’ve read Luther and Katharina already :), you’re invited to join in a discussion as part of Cassie and Jamie’s #HedlundChallenge2015 later in October!

Thank you to Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Press for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Jody’s? Do you prefer historical fiction or historical romances?