– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Katharina: Deliverance’ blogtour, organized by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. Awarded the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014 and Historical Fiction Winner in the Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition for her debut novel Turn of the Tide, the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. The third book in the series, By Sword and Storm, is due for publication in July 2018. Katharina: Deliverance is the first of two novels based on the life of Katharina von Bora, the escaped nun who married Martin Luther. She is passionate about well-researched, authentic historical fiction and providing a ‘you are there’ experience for the reader. An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – recent wins include, Neil Gunn, Chrysalis Prize, and Winchester Short Story Prize. Placings and listings include Rubery Short Story, Historical Novel Society Short Story, Mslexia, Fish – Short Story and One Page Prize and the Matthew Pritchard Award. She has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.
It is very shameful that children, especially defenceless young girls, are pushed into the nunneries. Shame on the unmerciful parents who treat their own so cruelly.’
– Martin Luther
Following the death of her mother and her father’s remarriage, five-year-old Katharina is placed in the convent at Brehna. She will never see her father again.
Sixty-five miles away, at Erfurt in Thuringia, Martin Luder, a promising young law student, turns his back on a lucrative career in order to become a monk.
The consequences of their meeting in Wittenberg, on Easter Sunday 1523, will reverberate down the centuries and throughout the Christian world.
A compelling portrayal of Katharina von Bora, set against the turmoil of the Peasant’s War and the German Reformation … and the controversial priest at its heart.
Lippendorf, February 1505
‘It is very shameful that children, especially defenceless young girls, are pushed into the nunneries. Shame on the unmerciful parents who treat their own so cruelly.’
– Martin Luther
Curled into the window seat, I press my face against the rippled glass, watching the trees bending and straightening before the wind, as the townsfolk do when Duke George passes through the market square. Above the trees, clouds pile, black on black, and I shiver. ‘The rain is coming.’
Klement, standing behind me, whispers in my ear, ‘The giant is coming. His footsteps shake the track leading from the woods. Soon he will reach us and…’ He grips my shoulders, shaking me.
Hans leaps up from his chair, shoves Klement backwards. ‘Stop it!’ And to me, ‘It’s only thunder, Kat, and cannot touch us here.’
Another rumble, louder than the last, and with it a distant rattle, like a cart on the cobbles in Lippendorf. The sky darkens, sucking out the light, Klement hissing, ‘And darkness was over the earth from the sixth until the ninth hour…’
Hans glares at Klement again as a jagged line of light splits open the sky, the accompanying crack frightening. I cross myself and shut my eyes until the noise fades, then peep between my fingers and see the rain spiking onto the ground below the window, churning the semicircle of path that curves to our door into a river of mud. The tree outside the window is blackened and a curl of smoke struggles upwards against the falling rain.
Klement is triumphant. ‘See? Next time it will be…’
‘Shut up!’ Hans spins round, claps his hand over Klement’s mouth. ‘Listen. There’s a carriage coming. Can it be Father?’ His voice has a catch in it that sends another shiver through me. ‘Anna said…’
Klement is at my other side, mischief forgotten. ‘Anna is a gossip. We shouldn’t pay too much attention to what she says.’
I tug at Hans’ arm. ‘What did Anna say?’
He pats my hand, shakes his head. ‘Nothing. Klement is right. It is but gossip and likely nonsense.’
We all crane to see as the carriage rolls to a stop, sending a wave of water arcing towards Anna, drenching her skirts as she waits in the open doorway. There is another flash of lightning as our father emerges and, holding the carriage door, reaches up to hand down a woman dressed in a burgundy cloak, her face shadowed by the broad brim of her hat. The padded velvet top is studded with pearls in the shape of a swan, its wings raised as if poised for flight.
‘Rich, I suppose,’ Hans says.
She hesitates on the carriage step, as if reluctant to soil her shoes in the mud, then, with a flash of ankle, she lifts her skirt and, holding onto our father, leaps the puddle between the carriage and the threshold of the door, slipping as she lands. He keeps his arm around her waist even when she’s steady again.
I catch a glimpse of a silver buckle and shining leather, just like our mother’s shoes she wore on Sundays going to Mass, and my stomach aches. ‘Who’s she?’ I ask. ‘And why’s she with Father?’
‘The wicked stepmother, I presume,’ Klement says.
‘Hans?’ I jiggle his arm, but he stares at the floor, shrugs.
Anna appears, her voice husky as she sends the boys downstairs. She shakes her head at me when I go to follow. ‘Not you, miss. I’m going to tidy you up first.’ She fusses at my dress, running her hands down the skirt, straightening the girdle, tugging at the sleeves. Her grip on my hair is firm, the comb strokes rapid, the teeth biting into my scalp, but when I put up my hand to stop her she slaps it away.
‘Ouch,’ I say, hurt as much by her uncharacteristic brusqueness as by the action itself.
She sets the comb down and turns me to face her. ‘Be good, Kat. Try to behave like a little girl, not a hoyden.’
‘For Frau Seidewitz. She’s…’ She takes a deep breath, the huskiness back. ‘She’s to be your new mother.’
The Magic of Wor(l)ds