Growing into Love — A Book Review

I have this friend. I met her in Texas, of all places. She’s sorta tall, sorta not tall, very willowy and has a lovely, large smile. She is also one of the funniest people I know. And the smartest. She admits to being very type “A,” and I’ll give her that. I get it, really I do. She wants to do All the Things, and to do them over-the-top-to-perfection-and-beyond. Her name is Michelle DeRusha.

Michelle has been on a wonderful journey over the 6-7 years we’ve been acquainted, not all of it easy. She owned her ambition and admitted it might be a bit Too Much. And she earnestly sought to find her way to a place of contentment with less ‘success’ than she had dreamed about. All through that journey, she wrote about it on her blog. She wrote about it exceptionally well.

Michelle writes exceptionally well, period. I did tell you that, right? Well, she does. Boy, does she. She wrote a memoir called, “Spiritual Misfit: a Memoir of Uneasy Faith,” that I absolutely adored — in fact, it is my very favorite of the many, MANY such books I have read over these years. Read and reviewed, for some very talented writers. It didn’t sell all that well and that made me very sad.

It broke her heart.

Then she got a strange ‘assignment’ through her talented and faithful agent — a book about Christian women in history, 50 of them, to be exact. Very different kind of writing from that memoir. Very different. But you know what? She hit it outta the park — right outta that park, she hit it. 

Then she got another assignment, sorta like that second one. Now this isn’t the style of writing she hoped she’d be doing. It isn’t her favorite, not by a long shot. And this topic? It pretty much scared the pants off her.

Why? Because one of the two main characters is among the most widely researched and written about in all of Christendom. But the other person? Not so much. And it was that part that hooked her. She’d already done a bit of research about that second person — Katharina Luther – for her 2nd book and she was smitten, very much smitten, by her strong personality and sense of self . . . in the early to mid 16th century, no  less!

So with fear and trembling and more than a few tears, she took on this latest assignment: to write about the marriage of Martin and Katharina Luther. She dug in, did her homework (and then some) and today, TODAY, her book launches out into the world.

Friends, you need to read this book. You need to buy it, in multiples, and give it to your friends and family, especially any daughters/sisters/granddaughters/mothers you may be privileged to know. Michelle did an outstanding job,  weaving in pieces of history, reflecting on things like family dynamics, faith, the impact and import of the Protestant Reformation, wealth and poverty in the 16th century, cloistered life, married life, childbirth, the plague, loss, grief, and the power of personal fortitude in the face of opposition and false accusation. 

Perhaps my favorite thing about this story and the way Michelle has chosen to tell it is this: Martin and Katharina did not love one another when they married — they chose one another out of obedience to God (Martin) and expediency due to societal pressure (Katharina). But over time, especially through the lovely letters that we still have from Martin to Kate, it is clear that they came to care for one another, deep and true. They built a real partnership, a remarkable thing to do, given Luther’s stated ideas about hierarchy and the realities of the time. Growing into love is a delightful thing to see, even 5 centuries in retrospect.

You can find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite neighborhood bookstore. Don’t miss this opportunity to re-affirm your faith and to learn something new about people you’ve heard about all your life. An added bonus for me was the wellspring of gratitude that spilled over in my spirit simply because I live in the time and place that I do. 

Given our current climate of rancor, fear, discord and disappointment, that gratitude is no small thing, friends. It is good to remember that some pretty remarkable forward movement has happened over the last 500 years (yup, this is the 500th Anniversary of those famous 95 Theses of Martin’s). Yes, we still have a long ways to go, a long ways. But think about these things for a minute:  women’s rights, the speed of communication, ease of travel, majorly upgraded standards of health care — all of these are exponentially better now than they were then. It was good for me to be reminded of the progress we have made as a culture during this difficult season of serious back-sliding. Very good.

Luther quote photo

I received an advanced reader’s PDF of this book in exchange for writing a review. Something I am OVERJOYED to be able to do.

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Comments

  1. Love this book review! I am reading the book now. History can be so interesting.

  2. Brad Johnson says:

    This is lovely, Diana–generous, true and lovely.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Diana,
    Here, here! I say ditto to all of this, and then some. You know, you’ve observed here something I try to say about Michelle on her blog and in reviews . . . that she writes very well and in many genres. She is an exceptional author, true, but not all good authors can do what she does. Many are monolithic and not at all comfortable and capable in myriad genres like she is–memoir, biography, anthology, blog, journalistic articles. Good grief! She could write a medical textbook or a theological treatise if she wanted to. And like you, I loved this book. Granted, I read it because I want to support her and happen to love her writing. I can’t tell you why, but I just don’t read biographies. (Maybe because many are so boringly written). But Michelle changed all that for me w/ K & M L. I wrote a glowing review and meant every, single word of it. I love your personal take on this too. . . . your behind-the-scenes peek at some of the angst Michelle went through. Like you, I loved her memoir, and it should have soared off the charts. Who knows? But that was not the end. Now we have this biography, and who knows what else is next. I can’t wait; can you?
    Cheering with you!
    Lynn
    PS This is a different piece for you, as well–very different writing style for you. You’re extremely versatile as well!

    • Thanks, Lynn – yes, I absolutely agree with you about Michelle’s multiple talents and I’m delighted to tell others about all of them.

  4. Liz Hot Eberle says:

    Diana, wow !!! I just discovered Michelle DeRusha through my real-life dear friend, Megan Willome. In fact, Megan introduced you to me and I’ve been grateful. Now, this Michelle person, wow you got it !!! Just to help verify that Michelle writes WELL, I continue in the role of caregiver to my husband who is on hospice and to my special needs adult daghter AND I will crash into my 80th this month. I am a life-long avid reader, but for the past 2 years, have not been able to concentrate to read anything other than medical reports. Last night, on a nudge from… the Holy Spirit, I took Megan’s review to heart and ordered Katharina & Martin for my iPad. Stunningly thrilled. Michelle explains intense research and history in a fun and clear way that intrigues and holds this old woman spell-bound. Your review is delightful and accurate. Also, sweet lady, your letters and postngs are healing and help hold me tgeter. Thank you.

    • Hello Liz — for some reason, this comment got buried in a netherworld and I just discovered it today! I am SO GLAD that you found Michelle’s book a good read and I so appreciate your words of encouragement to me. You are carrying a very fully-loaded plate and I am sorry! I’m adding you to my list of dear friends for whom to pray, Liz. Stay in touch as you are able, okay?

  5. Diana, whenever my inbox tells me that you have done a book review, I scurry right over to your place to read it because I think I’ve picked up somewhere that book reviews tend to pile up on you, and if you’ve done one, your pretty passionate about it.
    I’m so happy to get your thoughts on this book, because it showed up in my mailbox a couple of days ago. I can hardly wait to read it!
    And, it’s always so good to hear your voice.