Title: Katharina: Fortitude
Author: Margaret Skea
Genre: Historical Fiction (Biographical)
Publisher: Sanderling Books
‘We are none of us perfect, and a streak of stubbornness is what is needed in dealing with ahousehold such as yours, Kat… and with Martin.’
Wittenberg 1525. The unexpected marriage of Martin Luther to Katharina von Bora has no fairytale ending.
A sign of apostasy to their enemies, and a source of consternation to their friends, it sends shock waves throughout Europe.
Yet, as they face persecution, poverty, war, plague and family tragedy, Katharina’s resilience and strength of character shines through.
Although this can be read as a standalone, it is the powerful conclusion to her story, begun in Katharina: Deliverance.
'Beautifully written and meticulously researched - historical fiction at its best.' BooksPlease
If you like your historical fiction to be vivid, authentic and totally absorbing, this book is for you.
Wittenberg June 1525
The music stops, the sound of the fiddle dying away, the piper trailing a fraction behind, as he has done all evening. I cannot help but smile as I curtsy to Justus Jonas, his answering twinkle suggesting he shares my amusement.
‘Thank you, Frau Luther,’ and then, his smile wider, so that even before he continues I suspicion it isn’t the piping amuses him, ‘For a renegade nun, you dance well.’
It is on the tip of my tongue to respond with ‘ For a cleric, so do you,’ but I stop myself, aware that should I be overheard it would likely be considered inappropriate for any woman, far less a newly married one, to speak so to an older man, however good a friend he has been.
And on this day of all days, I do not wish to invite censure. Instead I say, ‘I have been well taught. Barbara saw to that. She did not wish me to disgrace myself or her, and there is a pair of slippers with the soles worn through to testify to the hours of practice she insisted upon.’
‘She succeeded admirably then.’
All around us there is the buzz of laughter and chatter, an air of goodwill evident in every flushed face. Martin is waiting at the foot of the dais, and as we turn towards him, his smile of thanks to Justus is evidence he too is grateful for the seal of approval, of me and of the marriage, our shared dance a tangible sign to the whole town that Justus Jonas at least has no reservations regarding our union. Over his shoulder I catch Barbara’s eye and she nods also. I nod back, but am unable to suppress altogether the inner voice, tonight there is drink taken, tomorrow some may feel differently.
As if he can read my mind, Justus says, a new seriousness in his tone, ‘You have not made a mistake, either of you.’ He waves his hand at the folk clustered in groups along the length of the room. ‘Look around. When the difficult times come, as no doubt they will, remember tonight and the number of those who came to wish you well.’
* * *
The first challenge is not long in coming. We stroll home in the moonlight, accompanied by those guests who will spend the night in the cloister with us, adding their acceptance to our union. Among them are Martin’s parents, and three councillors from Mansfeld, snatches of their conversation penetrating my thoughts.
Hans Luder’s tone, though gruff, cannot mask his satisfaction. ‘It is a good day’s work, and glad I am to see it, however long the wait.’
Martin’s mother’s voice is sweet and low, but bubbles with amusement, like a sparkling wine as it is poured into a glass. ‘Old you may be, but I trust your end is not yet nigh.’
There is an answering chuckle from one of the councillors, ‘Indeed,’ Frau Luder, ‘So do we all.’
Hearing him, I tuck my arm into Martin’s, the momentary disagreement regarding Cardinal Albert’s gift forgotten, and look up at the myriad stars: pin-pricks of light in an ink-flooded sky, and my heart swells. Frau Luther – the spelling may be different, but the status is the same and a title to be proud of, and though our marriage is already two weeks old, it is the first time I have felt it truly mine.
The music still rings in my ears, memory of the dancing, the coin in the chest: all symbols of the regard in which the doctor is held and in which I now share, spreading a warmth through me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. Justus is right. This is not a mistake, or not on my part at least. And, pray God, he is right about Martin also. We part from the company at the door of our chamber, and the light from the oil lamp flickers on the bedspread Barbara Cranach gifted to us. It is the last thing I see before sleep, the first when I wake, a talisman-harbinger of good things to come.
A note from the author:
Fortitude is entered into the Kindle Storyteller competition. The shortlist will be read by Mariella Frostrup - BBC Radio 4 presenter of Open Book. I would so love to have her read it, but the shortlist will be determined by 'reader engagement' on Amazon - based on copies sold in both e-book and paperback format, pages read via KU / KOLL and the number and quality of reviews. The competition closes on 31st August, so I have just two weeks to garner support and climb the rankings.
It is always a nervous time waiting for the first reviews and I have been so encouraged to find that folk are loving the book. Here's a few comments from the early reviews -
A satisfying sequel to Katharina: Deliverance (runner-up for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018).
Margaret Skea certainly puts flesh on the bones and makes the characters and the times come alive.
Well-researched and extremely readable, a light shining down the ages. ~Amazon reviewer
A fascinating read, and one of my better Kindle purchases, methinks. The meticulous research never gets in the way, and provides a captivating blend of history and fiction. ~Amazon reviewer
I loved this book; beautifully written and meticulously researched Katharina: Fortitude by Margaret Skea presents a vivid portrait of Katharina von Bora from the beginning of her married life with Martin Luther in 1525 to her death in 1552.
Margaret Skea is a skilful storyteller and seamlessly blends historical fact into her fiction. I was totally immersed in the story, enhanced by the richly descriptive writing, which made it compulsively readable for me. ~BooksPlease
Skea is that rare author who can be eloquent with what is not said. Katharina’s marriage takes on unexpected depths and nuances as we watch the subtle changes in the way she and Martin relate to each other. The reader is taken into that most private of relationships with great emotional honesty.~ Amazon reviewer
Introductory price for the ebook - 0.99p / 0.99c
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4j11BX
Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives in Scotland.
An Hawthornden Fellow, she is an accomplished speaker, Creative Writing tutor and workshop presenter, and has won or been placed in numerous competitions including, for short stories, Neil Gunn, Winchester, Mslexia, and Fish.
Her debut novel, Turn of the Tide, received the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Novelist 2014. The sequel A House Divided, was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016.
Katharina: Deliverance, the forerunner to Fortitude was Runner-up in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018.
Her passion is for authentic historical fiction, giving the reader a ‘you are there’ experience.
You can follow her on her website: https://www.margaretskea.com , on Twitter: @margaretskea1 and on FB: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretSkeaAuthor.Novels/