Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kitty, My Rib

I had read Kitty, My Rib and loved it! I had it sitting out on the countertop when my friend, Janice, came to visit me a little while back. She had just finished reading a different book about Katharina von Bora, wife of reformer Martin Luther, and was interested in reading this one also. I asked if she wanted to read it and then do the review for it and she happily obliged! (I love sharing a love of reading with my friends and it's fun to hear their perspective on books - especially on topics that interest them and that they care about!) Below is Janice's review of Kitty, My Rib after reading it for herself.


When Carrie gave me this book to review, I was very excited. Katharina Luther was born Katharina von Bora into a noble German family. Due to financial reasons, her family placed her in a convent at the age of 10. Martin Luther's teachings that would spark the Reformation made their way into Katharina's convent and she grew increasingly discontent with life in the convent. In April of 1523, Katharina escaped from the convent along with 11 other nuns and were granted safe haven by Martin Luther who, along with other men in his trust, found husbands or employment for the nuns (most of whom had never lived as an adult outside a cloistered environment). She was the last nun of the 11 escapees to be married.

E. Jane Mall wrote this biography in the form of historical fiction in 1959. Much of Katharina's life, thoughts, words, and actions are know only through the eyes and pens of others surrounding her at the time. Ms. Mall's respect for the Luther's and their role in history is evident in the way she portrays the events leading up to Katharina's marriage to Luther. The title refers to Martin Luther's evident and public affection and admiration of his wife whom he relied on for so much. Her wit and passion for God and the truth were a perfect match for Luther, especially in his melancholy or impulsive moods.* Most of the novel takes the reader into the daily life of Katharina as she worked tirelessly to support a very controversial man, raise a growing family, and care for the community surrounding them in Wittenburg.

If you don't know anything about the Katharina or Martin Luther, Kitty, My Rib is an excellent introduction to both this fascinating family as well as the pivotal time in history that would come to be known as the Reformation. It is an easy read for any advanced reader and would also do well as a read-aloud book for beginning or intermediate readers as Ms. Mall succeeds in bringing her characters to life. Just prior to reading Kitty, My Rib, I read a more thorough biography entitled A Reformation Life: Katharina von Bora, by Rudolf and Marilynn Markwald. It was as academic, thorough, and dry as Kitty, My Rib was readable and personal (although both were interesting). Ms. Mall's novel reflects the writing style of the late 1950's and, I would guess, the research available to her at the time. If a qualified author could take the Markwald's 2002 text and put it in novel form, it would serve Katharina Luther's life and memory excellently well. In the mean time, Kitty, My Rib is a wonderful appetizer of a novel for anyone interested in reading about a strong, funny, godly woman who's servant heart and passion for Christ and his people continues to leave a legacy beyond her 53 years.

One of my favorite stories about Katherine is how she responded when Luther was in one of his funks. In response to his depressed mood, she decided to wear a black dress. Luther asked her, "Are you going to a funeral?" "No," she replied, "but since you act like God is dead, I wanted to join you in the mourning."

(I burst out laughing every time I think about that!)

What a great wife! What a great sense of humor! What a woman - focused on truth! I love her!

This book tells the fascinating story of a fascinating woman.

Thanks, Janice, for telling us more about it!


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sounds great, Carrie (and Janice!) I love the movie Luther, so I am really interested in this because I've never read anything about his wife.

Barbara H. said...

I've read this a couple of times -- great book!

Ronnica said...

I always love sharing/discussing books with my RL friends!

Marks of Faith said...

This is an amazing book. I read it years ago and absolutly loved it! About four years ago I was blessed enough to discover a autographed copy and I gave it to my little sister (then 10) for Christmas...she loved it as well!

Sherry said...

Someone else recommended this book to me a long time ago, and I've had it on my list to read forever. I didn't know that it was about Katherine von Bora.

Must find a copy, especially since we're studying the Reformation in our homeschool this fall.

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