Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Blogival’

Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a guest piece written by Anne Boileau about Katharina Luther.

Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife

KatharinaLuther_FrontCover

On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

Would you say that Katharina von Bora was one of the first feminists who shaped history?

We cannot claim that Katharina von Bora was a feminist because such a concept did not exist in the 16th Century. She was, however, a strong, well-educated woman living in a patriarchal and authoritarian society.  When she first experienced the secular world she would have been taken aback at the hostility men showed against her sex. This hostility was, if anything, even worse if that woman happened to be a former nun. Former monks were mocked and reviled as well. Ironically, though, the very fact that she had attended a convent school and been raised with the rigorous discipline and training required for a monastic life, gave her spiritual, mental and physical strength. She needed these qualities to adapt to the change in her circumstances on leaving the security of the convent walls.

Common men were lewd, aggressive, mocking. Other women were suspicious because they found the ex nuns rather threatening. As convent pupils, novices and nuns they had received an excellent education. They were literate in Latin and German. Latin was the language of the powerful, the ruling class and of men. And few women at that time, even of good family, could write well, even though they might be able to read. As nuns they had acquired many other skills: illumination of texts; stitching tapestries; sowing, weaving, spinning; gardening and a knowledge of herbal remedies; music, and singing. And of course, the discipline of regular worship throughout each day.

Moreover, living in a silent order of women required the ability to communicate without words. They used sign language, of course, but much more can be conveyed than we, in a very verbal society, can ever imagine, by the eyes, or subtle body language. A nod of assent, a wink, a slight shrug of the shoulder, a turning away, the shadow of a frown or smile, can speak volumes in the absence of speech. And with such daily silent communication they would have developed a high degree of empathy; an ability to avert, where possible, flash points of irritation or strife. More than anything, there was a need to maintain, where possible, peace and harmony among the women. It can’t have been easy!

So if you ask me, was she one of the first feminists? I would say this: she came out of that convent well equipped to weather a world in turmoil. Where the peasants were breaking out of their bondage, the ruling classes were at odds with each other and mustering armies, and the Church was about to split into several factions because they could not agree on fundamental matters of doctrine. Society was divided. So it was, that maids were forbidden to discuss religion while filling their pails at the Wittenberg wells.

Katharina had a strong faith, which was mediated through the Virgin Mary. But she was adaptable, able to bend like a reed in the wind and accept  Martin Luther’s fresh, more direct path to God, believing in justification through faith. From the monastic discipline she was also schooled in hygiene and herbal remedies, so knew how best to take precautions against the plague, which came sweeping across the land every fifteen or so years.

When she married Martin Luther and took over the running of his large and busy household she brought all these qualities to bear on her work and also on her irascible husband. She kept him healthy, curbing his excessive appetite; she kept him calm, mitigating his bad temper and disturbed sleep; she made sure he respected her and other women. And as he was a man filled with doubts and fears, she gave him courage and confidence, and calmed his feelings of guilt and remorse for the unrest he had unleashed on the world. She also gave him children, who would have kept his feet on the ground, because children tell the truth. He was a devoted father.

Dr. Martin Luther played a hugely significant role in the shaping of modern Germany, one might say Europe. Katharina, as his wife, helped shape him, making him more humane and down to earth than he would have been had he remained a lonely, celibate, childless monk.  Therefore, though we can’t really call her a feminist, we can say that she did shape history, simply by being at his side, his helpmeet, companion and wife.

 

About the Author:

Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

 

Keep up with the posts of the Blogival!

Calendar

Read Full Post »

Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a guest piece written by Monika Jephcott-Thomas about the inspirations behind Fifteen Words.

 

Fifteen Words Fifteen Words Cover

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime.

His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is such an incredibly powerful story, it’s so moving and thought provoking.
I have been quite lucky in that I’ve read a number of books that allow readers to see WWII and the aftermath from the side of the German people and this is another book that affords readers the view of German perspective.  Here we see the tale through the eyes of two characters who’s settings are vastly different but and yet they both endure some of the same psychological factors.  Max is a German army doctor who is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to Siberia, where he struggles to keep the prisoners in the POW camp fit and healthy, being given a very strict target that only a proportion of the inmates may be permitted to be ill at any one time.  He also has to juggle caring for the officers of the Soviet Army and their families, and keeping on the right side of the guards in the camp.  His wife Erika, also a doctor, struggles with life without her beloved husband.  She is also heavily pregnant and travels to the home of her inlaws where it will be safer for her to give birth.
Both Max and Erika struggle with loneliness, desperation, and failing optimism.  However, the fifteen words that they are permitted to send each other give hope, courage, determination and love.  The power of those fifteen words can never be underestimated, and the danger they pose cannot be forgotten. 

The descriptive qualities of the writing are absolutely mesmerising, readers get such a clear picture of the perilous and painful journey that Max and his fellow prisoners make to Siberia.  The imagery conjured by the beautifully flowing descriptions was so crisp and added to the aura of power this book has.
Characterisation is so important, and here I think the author has matched the creations perfectly with her plot.  Each of the characters is multi-faceted and as the book progresses, more layers become apparent making them feel more real.  They are all damaged by what they have endured before the war as well as during it, the aftermath leaving inexplicable scars mentally as well as physically.

Such an incredibly poignant and moving tale that seems to have lived on in my head long after I finished reading and one I would highly recommend for fans of WWII fiction.

My thanks to Rachel at Authoright Marketing and Publicity for the opportunity to read this and take part in the Blogival.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

I was doing some research into my family history, as most of us do at some stage of our lives and, also as most of us do whose parents grew up during the world wars, I felt their stories were the stuff of novels. Unlike many who will be reading this however, my parents were both German. They met during the Second World War and were eventually separated by it, as Max and Erika are in the novel – my father having to go off and serve as a doctor in the German army, not because he wanted to (he was not a supporter of the Nazi party), but because he was conscripted, like so many young men across the globe in the early ’40s.

The novel is heavily inspired by the real-life trials and tribulations of my parents’ early married lives – simply because they are so inherently dramatic – whilst allowing me to depict the complexity of growing up in Nazi Germany among the potent forces of religion and fascism competing for young souls. It is also an exploration of the strength of human relationships, which the war tested greatly, in an age when letter writing was one of the few long distance forms of communication available to most; when the fighting separated husbands and wives, children and parents for extensive periods of time and over vast distances.

In the book, Max is a POW in a Russian labour camp on the edge of the Arctic for four long and painful years. I was shocked to find out, during my research for this novel, that German POWs in those Soviet labour camps were only allowed to send letters home if they contained a maximum of fifteen words. So, in the novel, Max struggles over how to express everything he wants to tell Erika with such limitations. He enlists the help of his more artistic friends to help him. But finally in despair he writes something damning. It becomes one of the themes of the book: how we can say so much in so few words to beautiful or destructive effect.

The book was written reasonably quickly, in just a few months, but that was mainly because I was steeped in all the stories from the research I had already done into my family history, which had unearthed all manner of letters, documents, photos and tape recordings. The real work was deciding which stories to follow in the novel. Apart from the themes I wanted to explore, the stories I eventually focused on were also the most gripping, page-turning aspects of the history. So the book has its fair share of explosions, air raids, prison breakouts, emergency medical procedures on the battlefield, not to mention a pregnant woman hanging on to the outside of a speeding train!

Fifteen Words is however, primarily a love story. Anyone who likes World War 2 fiction will find it not only interesting but, I think, refreshing. This book is unusual in that there are not many books written in English about the German experience of WW2. Many early readers of the manuscript found it an eye-opener, informing them about the war in a way they never thought of before, without it being a text which tries to rewrite history. In no way does it attempt to say the Nazis weren’t to blame for the atrocities of the war, but it merely points out that not all Germans were Nazis. As with any war, which we see all too often today, there are many civilian casualties, from all strata of society. In this very human story I hope I have been able to reaffirm how all of us, from whatever nation, for all our differences, still suffer and rejoice in remarkably similar ways.

 

About the Author:

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

 

Keep up with the posts of the Blogival!

Calendar

Read Full Post »

write4bairns

Writing for Kids

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting

bibliobeth

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea

BookBum

A friendly space for all mystery, crime & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Two Girls Who Love To Read Spreading the Love For All Things Bookish! 💕📚🎧

Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Blogger-Book Blogger–Book Reviews of Bestsellers & Indie Authors

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual

juliapalooza.com

Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things bookish...