Publication Date: September 2016
Publisher: Waterbrook and Multnomah, a division of Penguin Random House
“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity befalls you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.”
-William Law from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
Jody Hedlund once again weaves a story around a very real historical man named John Newton, adventurer and philanderer and his wife-to-be, Polly Catlett, a devout and beautiful young woman raised in an upright manner. John meets Polly when he becomes late and is forced to stop at a distant cousin’s home one evening on his way back to the coast. John is an irresponsible person with no real sense of ambition when he initially meets Polly.
The story deals primarily with John Newton’s life after meeting Polly. Their story is one of Polly’s loves of music, hymns, and education and John’s struggle to become a person that deserves a girl like Polly. The characters in the novel, particularly John, undergo transformations as they mature and undergo life altering circumstances. From deckhand to writer of one of the most beloved hymns of all time, Amazing Grace, John grows and develops into a devout, Christian man. As a young man John tended to make the same mistakes over and over before he finally learning some valuable lessons. One of these lessons was the quote at the beginning of the review. This becomes one of his life mantras by which he learns to live.
The message carried throughout the storyline is that God loves us absolutely regardless of what we do and how we behave. The story also carries the underlying theme of the prodigal son, acceptance and forgiveness. This book will appeal to serious readers of Christian fiction and inspirational historical fiction. The story starts out a little slow, but gains momentum as it progresses. I liked the book and very much enjoyed the historical notes and details at the end of the novel.
This ARC copy was received from Waterbrook and Multnomah and Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.