Loving Luther by Allison Pittman is the fascinating tale of Katharina von Bora, the nun who would become first lady of the Reformation.
The story begins when six-year-old Katharina gets dumped at the local convent by her weak-willed, newly remarried father, who chokes up as Katharina bravely walks away dry-eyed, hoping to relieve his misery at watching her misery.
The heartbreaking story plunges us into life in a cold stone pre-Reformation convent. We quake along with little Katharina at the fearsome nuns, relax as she learns the ropes, and hunger with her for relief from her sufferings.
I wasn’t familiar with this dark period in history, particularly in German history. The story weaves between fiction and history as we follow Katharina’s coming of age, causing me to look up biographical tidbits to see what was real.
It turns out, Mrs. Pittman did an amazing job staying true to the story.
Martin Luther loved his beer. I never knew that! In my own research inspired by reading this book, I read how heavily he relied on alcohol.
Of course, back then beer and wine were widely consumed, which is why people were so dense and dull. When coffee conquered Europe, so did clear-headedness and progress.
But I digress. Ah, coffee. 🙂
Rather than focusing on Martin Luther, though, this is Katie’s story. It reads in parts like a romance novel. While I’m not a big romance novel consumer, the history and drama made up for the gushy parts.
I guess the biggest thing I learned from this novel is that every age, and every great person, has their weaknesses. Of course! Why else would we need grace if any of us had it all together?
While Luther loved the Scriptures and wanted them available to everyone, he obviously didn’t understand everything. I guess every age and group has its blind spots.
This book didn’t touch on Luther’s antisemitism, and I’m glad since that happened in his senile, diseased years. In his younger, clearheaded days he was a friend to the Jews. “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian,” he wrote as a younger man. “They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property.”
Just goes to show we all need grace. Even in old age. Even the leaders of the leaders. We’re all standing in the need of prayer. Especially the leaders.
Loving Luther skipped these controversial aspects of Martin Luther and instead focused on the dramatic life of his wife. I enjoyed this book, and I’m grateful to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me a free copy in exchange for my honest review.