Sunday, August 21, 2011
The Heretic's Wife by Brenda Rickman Vantrease, 408 pages
Kate Gough and her brother John are booksellers in Tudor England, whose shop carries English Bibles, illegal and dangerous to have. When John is caught up in a sweep and forced to recant his beliefs, Kate takes his place on a smuggler's run to restock their shop. She meets up with John Frith, a student and translator who has escaped the reach of Thomas More, who wants nothing more to burn all heretics. Kate and John quickly fall in love and marry, creating a life together in Antwerp, helping translate the Bible into English until John goes back to England to gather support for the effort. Will John be able to escape the clutches of Thomas More and the heretic's fire to return to Kate?
"The Heretic's Wife" is an exciting and heartbreaking novel about the people involved in translating and sharing the Bible with the common man, set against Henry VIII's determination to set aside his queen for Anne Boleyn. Religion, and the Church, as all knew it was threatened by the thought of anyone being able to read and understand the Bible, and by the thought of the Pope not being the head of the Church in England. Brenda Rickman Vantrease has brought history alive with this book, combining actual historical figures with fictional creations. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Carolly Erickson will consider this a must read treat. It definitely made me think about how lightly we take the privilege of being able to own and read anything we want, much less the Bible, here in America.