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Kasia's Story by Ken Parejko

Kasia's Story

by Ken Parejko

450 pages
Future historians will surely look back at our times as interesting and dangerous. So it was during Europe's Reformation, when a curious and courageous old widow brings Polandís Queen Bona Sforza to a moral tipping point.

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About the Book
After the death of her husband, Katarzyna Weiglowa (Kasia) begins to find her own way in the world. She and Melchior, a bookish couple more interested in big ideas than new furniture, had taken their first steps toward answering the question of whether the God in the Church was the same God they found in their hearts.

No longer in need of their big house in Krakow, Kasia accepts an offer from Mosche Fiszel, an old friend and customer of her husbandís, to move among his Jewish neighbors in Kazimierz. The adventure of living as a Christian in a Jewish community and exploring Moscheís brand of spirituality helps to fill an emptiness in her heart.

On a trip to Silesia to visit Melchiorís dying brother, she and her son Andrzej cross paths with religious reformers. Kasia joins a community who question their faith by attending salons held by free thinkers from Krakowís University. She is shaken deeply when she learns that some of the reformers she has met have been executed for their beliefs. But her letters to them, asking deep questions about her faith, have been intercepted by the Church. She is tried for suspicion of heresy. While in prison and after much soul-searching she recants her apostasy and is released with the warning that the next time it will not go so easily for her.

Almost a decade later as the Polish legislature debates the question of what to do with the Jews, who are competing with Christian merchants and it is said proselytizing their religion, Kasia becomes the first woman invited to address the Polish Sejm. When she throws Christís words at them, reminding them that the true Christian loves his or her neighbor, she becomes persona non gratis to the conservatives, is re-arrested, tried again and sentenced to burn as an unrepentant heretic.

Meanwhile, in parallel chapters, Polandís new queen Bona Sforza struggles to adapt to the Polish climate and culture. Her relationship as a child with Leonardo daVinci, come to Milan to paint his Last Supper, remains a touchstone of her life. Married to the much-older King Zygmunt, Bona struggles to protect herself, her inheritance, and her children by building her own power base at Wawel Castle. At her husbandís request she begins a correspondence with the Ottoman Sultan Suleimanís wife Roxelana, a Polish woman captured in a slave raid. To strengthen her political base against her husbandís she establishes a surreptitious line of communication with Istanbul, a dangerous and potentially treasonous act.

Kasiaís and the Queenís stories intersect when Kasiaís fate falls into the Queenís hands. After a miscarriage throws her into her own religious doubts, will she follow her conscience and have Kasia released, or will she give in to political expediency and hand the old woman over to the Church?

 

Reviews
Powered by the presence and development of two extraordinary women who were drawn together by chance, circumstance, and courage, Kasia's Story demonstrates how history comes to lifeÖa novel that appeals at many levels and belongs in any serious historical fiction library.
- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

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About the Author
Ken is a retired biology professor with an avocation of writing. He has three books on Amazon. Two are historical novels, one is a title on monarch butterflies. His passions are travel, quiet time in nature and literature. He lives in rural northern Wisconsin.

 

 

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