Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

When John Costin's young wife dies and leaves behind a young baby, Elizabeth Whitbread is determined to save the child's life--even if it means finding a wet nurse the elders in her church don't agree with. She also accepts a position as John's housekeeper and cares for the children during the day while John goes about preaching. She accepts this as her calling from the Lord, but soon falls in love with the children and feels a deep attraction to their father. But she's already agreed to marry another man and doesn't believe herself attractive enough to win John Costin's heart.

John feels a calling to preach even though it angers the Anglican church. He is repected by his Puritan community but the tensions in the country are thick between the Anglicans and the Puritans...and the Puritans are losing ground. John's vocation is putting the lives of those around him at risk from his enemies..including Elizabeth's.

When I picked up this book and started reading I absolutely hated to put it down. I was quickly sucked into John and Elizabeth's world and cheering on their romance! I also found the historical climate fascinating. I haven't read much about the Puritans, I think they are regrettably best remembered for the Salem Witch Trials, but I never spent much time thinking about why exactly they fled England for the States. It was interesting to read a story set in that time period.

Elizabeth is a very likable heroine if not a bit too perfect. She's a hard worker, she seems to act selflessly, though she does get a bit caught up in the performance trap. What I liked best about her was her refusal to shun the poor and instead she attempted to associate with them and help them. John was also very interesting and while I wanted to smack him a time or two, I did enjoy his story.

This is a very compulsive read, with fantastic romantic tension and suspense. The pacing is brisk and the characters recognizable. There's a fair bit of God talk but I feel it was somewhat authentic to the time period and the characters.

I was pleased to learn upon finishing the book that this is Jody Hedlund's imagined John and Elizabeth Bunyan. It was interesting and made more sense to me why the book was set when it was. She includes what's real in an author note in the back, but is clear to say that this is work of fiction.

Rating: 4.5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Christian fiction
Source of Book: Review copy from publisher
Publisher: Bethany House (Baker Books)


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