Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Luther and Katharina

Luther and Katharina
By Jody Hedlund
WaterBrook Press, 2015


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

The combination of Jody’s love for history and masterful storytelling always results in novels that inspire and entertain, but Luther and Katharina is in a class of its own. Most of us know of Martin Luther and his impact on the established medieval church from the study of history, but I’ll be quick to admit that I had never heard of Katharina von Bora and was eager to learn more. Drawing from a framework of readily-available facts, Jody has fleshed out a “what might have been” timeless love story that not only entertains, but will challenge and inspire readers. It’s not always a comfortable read, for the times weren’t comfortable – and when it comes to courage, this book is very relevant for believers today. Luther and Katharina has become one of my favorite novels.

Luther, the great reformer of the medieval Catholic Church in 1523, and Katharina, a titled runaway nun, just might be the most unlikely pairing ever. One of the things I appreciated most is that, while I knew a lot about the historical figure, Jody’s story has given me a feel for the man himself – wisdom, strengths, flaws, health problems, weaknesses, courage, loyalty, and depth of faith. All the historical elements are there – class distinction, abuses within the church, enmity between peasants and princes, sedition, and a nobility that demanded much while giving little in return. I also found the wedding customs to be fascinating.

Wartburg Castle
Luther and Katharina is historically rich, based on much that actually happened. I was surprised at how politically powerful and controlling the church was, and that the faith Martin was espousing – that God wanted to hear directly from His children, that priests and nuns should marry – was considered heresy. Katharina had “believed that becoming a nun was the surest way to reach heaven,” yet she was a prisoner behind the cloistered walls, literally risking her life to escape. Relating to her struggle to let go of past traditions was so easy. “The urge to voice her deepest needs pulsed though her. What if she talked to God without a traditional prayer, the way the pastor did each Sunday? Would God hear her?” And for readers who love the romantic chemistry in Jody’s books, it is very much present here.

Luther and Katharina has a message, a challenge for us when we look at the commitment and courage of a believer like Martin Luther as he faced the threat of death in standing up for what he believed . . .

“Since Christ shed His blood and died for me, how can I not,
for His sake, place myself in danger? We must say,
‘Satan, if you frighten me, Christ will give me courage;
if you kill me, Christ will give me life.’”

As I sit down to worship on Sundays, I now have a deeper appreciation for what Martin Luther and other courageous believers endured in their efforts to pass on a pure faith in Christ. And I can’t help but hope that, as today’s climate of religious freedom shifts sharply, those who follow after us would find that we have been faithful also.

I highly recommend Luther and Katharina. Thank you, Jody, for sharing their story with us.


Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

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Thank you to Jody Hedlund for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. This sounds like an exciting story of Martin Luther and the woman who fled the life of a nun.

  2. Excellent review! This book has been calling my name from the shelf for a while. I am hopeful I can get to it soon. Your thoughts spur me on to clear away the backlog of reading so I can spend time with what sounds to be a riveting and inspiring novel. Thanks for your insights.