Monday, October 10, 2016

"Newton and Polly" by Jody Hedlund - How "Amazing Grace" came to be story of John Newton's journey to grace and the woman who loved him:

From the moment he sets eyes on Polly Catlett, John Newton is smitten. But for all his family ties and how much the devout Polly likes his back, his recklessness and disregard for both responsibility and authority take him far from her side and into utter depravity. When grace finally leads him home, will his love still be waiting?

As I've come to expect from the author, Hedlund has really done her research for writing this novel. It may be fiction, but it's stretched over the framework of John Newton's life leading up to his marriage.

For all that he is the author of the famous song "Amazing Grace," I had a hard time liking John Newton for the majority of the novel. He's charming, to be sure, but all that charm was wasted on me when I realized how utterly irresponsible he is. For whatever reason, I found his slave-trading to be more forgivable than his complete disregard for commitment and authority. To be fair, John finds grace by the end and turns his life around, but his downward spiral for most of the story was painful to read about. Polly is sweet, but she is not without flaws either, though hers were less frustrating to me than John's.

I can understand the challenge of writing a romance in which the main characters spend such little time together over the course of eight years, but it was believably depicted, and still managed to be romantic. It isn't my favorite of the author's novels, but it has a powerful message about God's grace--the story of the prodigal son could just as well as have been written with John Newton in mind.

Thank you Blogging for Books for providing a free book to review. I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Other novels by Jody Hedlund based on historical couples:
Luther and Katharina (Martin and Katharina Luther)
Rebellious Heart (John and Abigail Adams - 2nd US president)
The Doctor's Lady (Marcus and Narcissa Whitman - one of the first two white woman to cross the Rocky Mountains)
The Preacher's Bride (John and Elizabeth Bunyan)

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