The Heretic's Wife
Brenda Rickman Vantrease
St. Martin’s, Ape 13 2010, $25.99
In 1528 at Gouch’s Book and Print Shop, siblings John and Kate Gough obtain banned protestant bibles and translate them into English at a time when the Lutheran reformation is outlawed. When John is caught and arrested, he saves his life by recanting his sins. His sister Kate understands why he repudiated his activity, but refuses to retract her actions and beliefs.
Kate meets and falls in love with biblical translator John Frith. He takes her to safety in Antwerp as religious wars seem imminent in England. King Henry VIII is increasingly frustrated with the Pope’s inaction on his petition to sanction a marriage to his mistress Anne Boleyn so he begins to look towards the Lutheran doctrine. To the contrary, Catholic supporter Thomas More burns heretics to keep England loyal to the Vatican. In these dangerous times, Protestants are subject to a heresy death penalty especially inside of England but even those who fled to tolerant Holland.
This is a refreshing superb Tudor historical that focuses on the impact of the religious wars on the working class. Perhaps the biggest adjustment for readers is Sir Thomas More as a fanatic willing to torture and burn heretics, a far cry from A Man for All Seasons. With a rare for novels of that era modern day relevance, Brenda Rickman Vantrease pulls no punches as she provides a profound look at what the royal-papal dispute does to the every-person English.