Jolabokaflod – translated as ‘Christmas Book Flood’ – the lovely Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. If I only had an open fire that I could curl up beside it would be my perfect evening…
This December, members of the Historical Writers’ Forum are having their own Jolabokaflod, by offering free or discounted copies of our books.
My gift is a copy of Katharina Deliverance (a signed paperback or ebook as desired in the UK; and an ebook elsewhere). To be in with a chance, please comment in the FB page or on my blog. In keeping with Jolabokaflod I shall choose the winners on Christmas Eve.
The early 1500s in Germany was a period of religious and political turmoil, none more so than that sparked by the monk Martin Luther’s challenge to the Catholic church. His writings, smuggled into many convents and monastries, led many monks and nuns to renounce their vows and resume secular lives.
The following extract illustrates the resulting unease in the Marienthron convent at Nimbschen. It is taken from Katharina: Deliverance the first in a two book series chronicling the life of Katharina von Bora, the nun who eventually became Martin Luther’s wife.
The year turns, the darkness of December giving way to the brilliance of a landscape cloaked in snow. The hollows on the hill behind us are smoothed out, the river below sluggish, swollen with slush. Wind blows through the valley, piling the snow in drifts, obliterating the track, neither workers nor visitors able to reach us.
Within our walls, ice hangs in long fingers from roofs and windowsills, and crusts the tops of fences. Paths turn to glass and stray stems of plants snap like kindling when trodden on. In the orchard, branches bow under the weight of snow, sweeping the ground, so that we fear for their survival, and the root vegetables we would normally harvest as we needed them are set into ground so hard they are impossible to shift. Outside, the water in the troughs freezes solid, so that fresh supplies from the well must be drawn daily for the animals; and indoors, standing water forms a thick skin overnight. With no prospect of any new supplies arriving, the kitcheness rations what we have, the loaves smaller, the soup thinned.
Trapped inside by the inclemency of the season, the atmosphere in the cloister is as tempestuous as the weather; and with little else to distract, Luther and his writings find their way into every corner, whipping up dissensions, dividing us, it seems irrevocably, into three camps. Those who are in sympathy with what he has said and done; those who are equally vociferous in their condemnation of him, and who cite the hardness of the frost as a sign of God’s displeasure; and those who refuse to be drawn onto one side or the other, insisting that as we are removed from the world, what happens in it has no relevance to us. These last claim the greatest piety, with sanctimonious talk of praying: for us, whom the Devil is winnowing; for the Mother Church which is under attack; and yes, even for that renegade monk, whom God in his mercy may yet lead to recognise the errors of his ways. And saint or apostate, it seems that Luther’s name is mentioned as often between us as Our Lady’s is invoked for our protection.
To enter the giveaway comment here or on the FB page
Here is the full list of the blogs taking part in this event
Dec 3rd Sharon Bennett Connolly
Dec 4th Alex Marchant
Dec 5th Cathie Dunn
Dec 6th Jennifer C Wilson
Dec 8th Danielle Apple
Dec 9th Angela Rigley
Dec 10th Christine Hancock
Dec 12th Janet Wertman
Dec 13th Vanessa Couchman
Dec 14th Sue Barnard
Dec 15th Wendy J Dunn
Dec 16th Margaret Skea
Dec 17th Nancy Jardine
Dec 18th Tim Hodkinson
Dec 19th Salina Baker
Dec 20th Paula Lofting
Dec 21st Nicky Moxey
Dec 22nd Samantha Wilcoxson
Dec 23rd Jen Black
Dec 24th Lynn Bryant