Book Review: The Preacher’s Bride

25 Aug

51gcvJiopsL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child and manshe’s come to love.

 

jody-hedlundJody Hedlund is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Captured By Love, Rebellious Heart, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award and INSPYs Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

 

My Impressions:

The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund explores a part of history I knew hardly anything about — the latter days of the rule of Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War. Okay, I should know about Puritans, right? That subject is introduced in every Kindergarten classroom in America. They came to the New World for religious freedom, but what did religious intolerance and persecution in England really look like? Through the eyes of Elizabeth Whitbread and John Costin, the reader gets a good look at what it means to live according to God’s will, not man’s dictates.

The characters of John Costin and Elizabeth Whitbread were inspired by the life of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Quite a bit is known about John, but only a glimpse of Elizabeth’s life can be gleaned from the historical record. Hedlund does a great job of creating a Puritan maiden who dedicates her life to serving God and man. Elizabeth views herself as plain and inconsequential. Young and illiterate, she nevertheless has a strong faith and character. John is newly widowed following his wife Mary’s death from childbed fever. Lost in grief and fearing to love again, he immerses himself in God’s calling — to preach the Gospel to the poor and lowly. An unlicensed preacher, he is the target of royalist supporters. As she takes on the role of housekeeper for John, Elizabeth becomes a target as well. Their relationship deepens, but is hindered by the desires of others in the congregation, rumors, threats and betrayal.

The Preacher’s Bride has interesting characters in John, Elizabeth, John’s blind daughter Mary, the wet nurse, Lucy and other assorted members of Elizabeth’s family and the Puritan congregation. It is a large cast, but not overwhelming. All play a integral part in the development of the story. Hedlund does a great job of making mid-1600s England vivid in the reader’s mind — the hardness of life, the intolerance of the political system and the harshness of the justice system. As to themes, a couple of things stood out for me — the tension/balance between God’s call and family life and the idea that love of man and God is somehow earned by doing right. Elizabeth is faithful and believes in God’s provision and plan, yet still thinks that her works should somehow weigh in her favor with God. Both Elizabeth and John have to evaluate their part in God’s work and its role in their marriage.

The Preacher’s Bride is one of Hedlund’s older novels, but it is well-written and researched. More history with a good dose of romance, it is a book I can recommend.

There’s a great discussion of The Preacher’s Bride, including an author interview, going on at Books And Beverages. Click HERE to join in.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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