cover image Children of Disobedience: The Love Story of Martin Luther and Katharina of Bora

Children of Disobedience: The Love Story of Martin Luther and Katharina of Bora

. Crossroad Publishing Company, $19.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-8245-1695-6

The marriage of Martin Luther and his bride, Katharina von Bora, offers virtually untapped material for fiction, and award-winning German novelist Scheib captures the tumultuous times of Luther's Reformation in this well-researched account. His atmospheric evocation of 16th-century Germany depicts the political and social forces that led to the Reformation. The Luthers' marriage is portrayed as passionate, even as they struggle with economic hardship, illness and the demands of Luther's mission. Scheib offers a plausible explanation of Luther's teaching on the subject of sex within marriage: how he began with ideas of practical outcomes, such as offspring, and later developed the controversial idea that sex reinforces a special bond between husband and wife. While the book contains no narrative descriptions of the couple's sex life, Katharina's reflections on the subject are quite sensuous. Readers may take exception to her portrayal, however. Though Katharina was unusually outspoken and interested in the Reformation cause, the novel only speaks of her interaction with these ideas at the beginning, when Luther's tracts have moved her and several other nuns to escape from their cloister. As depicted here, she becomes increasingly bitter and angry, with fewer glimpses of tenderness and happiness. The final picture we have of Katharina, generally regarded as a woman of great strength and courage, is one of fear and confusion. (Aug.)