Subscribe now

First Wives’ Club

By Clare Heath-Whyte
March 2015 | Review by Gladys Nash
  • Publisher:
  • ISBN: 978-1-90961-176-4
  • Pages: 176
  • Price: 7.99
Buy this book »

Why would we want to read about the lives of sixteenth-century wives? One good reason is that, although living in a completely different world to ours, they had the same human nature, strengths, challenges and frailties as we do.

We can be enlightened and encouraged as we read these accounts of six ordinary women who aimed to live godly lives and put into effect all they were newly learning.

One was a former nun, one was married to an antagonistic unbeliever, and three were widowed. All but one were married to Reformers and one was widowed four times and married to three Reformers in succession.

One marriage was a partnership of equals, while another woman married her Reformer-husband to help curb his womanising! Two of the wives addressed in the book became public figures and were writers who used their gifts to defend the gospel, sometimes at the risk of their lives. One enjoyed discussing theology with the men — unusual for the times!

One Reformer married because his friends persuaded him that he should. His wife was rarely well and the marriage was often troubled, while another saw marriage as a place to serve Christ and his people. Her home was a place of refuge for many fleeing persecution, and we see how she gladly and selflessly ministered to their needs.

They all managed busy households, where there were many children, stepchildren and usually house guests to care for. There were trials and difficulties, bereavements and infant deaths, opposition to the gospel and persecution and exile.

Few of these couples married for love, but most came to love one another deeply. Luther wrote of his wife, ‘I love her more than myself’; a formerly womanising Zwingli became a devoted family man; Calvin, who married somewhat reluctantly, described his wife as ‘the best companion of my life’. Until the light of the gospel shone into their hearts, they would have lived by the accepted values of society as it then was, but now they sought to live by the rediscovered values of the Bible.

A short study at the end of each chapter invites the reader to consider issues faced by these Reformation wives, pointing to New Testament teaching about marriage and the way that believers should live. This book would be ideal as a gift.

Gladys Nash

Greens Norton

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God
Kevin DeYoung

This year sees the anniversary of the Synod of Dort which concluded its deliberations in May 1619. Much has been written about this, mainly from a Reformed perspective which rightly views its findings as worthy of being set alongside other…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care
Kathryn Butler

Dr Kathryn Butler is a Christ-centred trauma and critical care surgeon with years of experience caring for patients in the intensive care unit. She has observed relatives struggle to reconcile what is happening with their faith, asking questions such as…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the perils of Christian rock
Gregory Thornbury

What are we to make of Larry Norman, the controversial pioneer of Christian pop music in the late 1960s and ‘70s? Gregory Alan Thornbury (son of occasional ET contributor John) tells the fascinating story with riveting style and careful accuracy.…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost
Melvin Tinker

A book offering to tell us ‘how the West was lost’ has set itself a very ambitious target. Perhaps it needs a few more pages to quite hit that target. But it succeeds admirably in drawing our attention to a…