"Katharina, Deliverance" by Margaret Skea is the first in a new series of books by this talented author. Having previously read and reviewed "A House Divided" we came to her latest offering with high expectations and we were not disappointed. Beautifully crafted, "Katharina, Deliverance" takes the reader back to the Germany of 1505 and brings the setting to life in a vivid way. One can almost feel the atmosphere, the anticipation and the fear of the central character as she experiences life growing up through turbulent times.
Following the death of her mother and the subsequent remarriage of her father, five year old Katharina's world turns upside down when she is placed in a convent in distant Brehna. Away from her father and brothers she dreams of proving herself and returning to the family home, but this is not to be and Katharina is later transferred to a Cistercian order in Nimbschen. She will never see her father again. Whilst her young life and early adulthood is lived in piety, Katharina is not devoid of friendship or support and she eventually she learns to accept her calling and take her vows to become a nun.
But the time in which Katharina is growing up is a turbulent one. There are schisms in the church which it is difficult to avoid, even within the walls of a silent order. Much is spoken of young Martin Luther, a promising young law student which has turned his back on a lucrative career in order to become a monk. His writings inflame the public view of the Catholic church and their reading creates unease and division within the convent walls. A chance meeting between Katharina and the young Luther in Wittenberg in 1523 proves to be a life-changing event in both their lives and when Katharina breaks the bonds of the sisterhood to forge a new life, Martin Luther is destined to become a part of it.
Whilst "Katharina, Deliverance" is fast moving and tense, there is an intensity in Margaret Skea's writing that ensures that none of the colour, detail or emotion is lost. What emerges is a powerful story, based on the real life Katharina von Bora, where the reader is consumed by the experiences of this remarkable young woman. Katharina's personal anguish is at times palpable, as are her moments of clarity and realisation. Here is an otherwise ordinary woman, doing the most extraordinary things and we are privileged to share in her experience. Whilst this is a work of fiction, Margaret Skea paints a wholly convincing picture of the life of this renegade nun who became the wife of Martin Luther.