Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

newton-and-pollyNewton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Indeed, after loving the novel Luther and Katharina as much as I did, I jumped at the chance to read Newton and Polly by author Jody Hedlund. A novel about the man who penned the beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace,” and the love of that man’s life? Yes, please!

And I’m not sorry I read it. It has points I really liked, such as one raised by Polly’s mother: “Just because so many others turn a blind eye to the evil going on around us doesn’t mean we should too. Imagine if everyone sat back and looked the other way. Who would be left to fight for righteous living and justice?” I also appreciate that the story highlights how making pious choices doesn’t necessarily mean you’re close to God, and Newton’s eventual realization of God’s grace is rather beautiful.

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough moments that I liked to make me enjoy the read overall. For most of the book, I didn’t have much reason to admire either Newton or Polly. It seemed they just didn’t have much purpose outside of being in their feelings about each other, and given the length of the book, that grew tiresome after a while. Polly blushed and pined while Newton kept making one poor decision after another. And I lost track of the number of times he kept getting beat up, but that, along with another issue or two, did get redundant after a while.

Lover of historical ChristFic that I am, this novel wasn’t my cup of tea. But it is well-written, and I wouldn’t discourage Hedlund fans who haven’t read it yet from giving it a go.

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Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

historical-books

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Five Gold Stars

Luther and KatharinaLuther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

So. It may not be completely fair to anticipate reading a book this much, as the book then has quite the expectations to meet. But when the book meets those expectations, meets them famously, and all the prior anticipation has been proven justified—ah, well, then!

In Luther and Katharina by author Jody Hedlund, the passionate man behind the tumultuous Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, has numerous enemies to face both without and within the movement he’s roused. He could be captured and burned at the stake any day for his outcry against the abuses of the Church, but even so, one of his greatest fears is that he could fall in love, particularly with one tenacious former nun, Katharina von Bora.

I suspect that I might have felt a little lost when I first jumped into the novel if I hadn’t already been familiar with Luther’s story and this period in the Holy Roman Empire, but I was engrossed from the start. Admittedly, I was just a tad doubtful before I began, as the “Novel of Love and Rebellion” label on this book made it sound as if it might play out too much like a “rebellious, forbidden love affair” kind of romance novel. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, though I would place the romance here on the steamier side of Christian Fiction. Some of the physical effects that Luther and Katharina have on each other become redundant deep into the novel, but their relationship is well-developed and wonderfully expressed overall.

While the author doesn’t shy away from the ugly aspects of the reformation, moments of endearing interaction between some of the characters and the personal growth of Luther and Katharina give the novel its redemptive quality. I’m sure many more historical ChristFic and romance readers will enjoy every minute of this novel as much as I did.

 

Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

Historical Books 11

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Four Silver Stars

Captured by LoveCaptured by Love by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

What I liked most about Captured by Love is the way it shows how life situations can’t all be painted over, black and white, with one brush of neat and tidy solutions. Times of war and matters of the heart do try us, as they try Angelique and Pierre, who have to decide what they’re truly committed to in the midst of complex circumstances. I was intrigued as I read, eager to find out how they would handle the complexity of it all to come to resolution.

The clever banter and the ease Angelique and Pierre have with each other as people are the most compelling aspects of their relationship, in my view, and their history with each other makes the progression of their relationship believable. Now, when Angelique inwardly questions if “their passion and love [can] survive” all they’ll have to face, it’s appropriate that “passion and love” would come in that order in her reflection, since Angelique and Pierre seem to give passion precedence over love. While their feelings are understandable and their interaction is interesting, I could never get quite comfortable with their romance, due to the question of honor and honesty on both their parts. Angelique herself says that “love without honor is worthless,” and I found myself wondering if these two would have enough honor and integrity to build anything lasting on, as passion could turn out to be insufficient.

There is a sense of danger throughout the novel and even a front seat for the reader at a vital point in the war, when the conflict reaches the grounds of Michilimackinac Island. Overall, it’s a satisfying read.