A beautiful love story that's also an allegory.
Redeeming Love has over a million copies in print and has been through several editions since it was originally published in 1991. I just finished reading the 2005 edition, which includes a study guide by Peggy Lynch with some really thought provoking discussion questions. As I write this review in December 2013, Redeeming Love remains on the ECPA and CBA Best Seller Lists. I think the case can be made that this book has become a classic of Christian fiction. I am happy to have read it and I would recommend it highly to Christians and non-Christians alike. It can be read as an allegory with significant Christian themes, exploring GodÃ¢ÂÂs unconditional love, even for those who donÃ¢ÂÂt feel worthy of that love. And it can be read as a beautiful and emotional love story between two very complex and memorable characters.
Redeeming Love is set in California during the time of the Gold Rush. It tells the love story of a godly man named Michael Hosea who is called to marry a prostitute known as Angel. She is a beautiful woman who was sold into prostitution as a child, and feels herself incapable of loving Michael back or living any other kind of life than the one to which she is accustomed, despite the unhappiness it brings her. Michael loves her continually and forgives her repeatedly, despite the pain she brings him, and God uses this to begin the process of redemption in AngelÃ¢ÂÂs life. But it isnÃ¢ÂÂt until she comes to know GodÃ¢ÂÂs unconditional love for herself that her redemption can be complete.
I found this to be an engaging and deeply moving story that dealt with tough issues revolving around sin, shame, and forgiveness in a very tender hearted way. The allegory is there, just as it is in the Book of Hosea from the Bible on which this story is loosely based, but itÃ¢ÂÂs subtly woven into the fabric of the romance and doesnÃ¢ÂÂt feel at all forced or contrived.
The prologue sets up the story by describing SarahÃ¢ÂÂs childhood and how she came to be the woman Michael would know as Angel and later as Amanda. It goes a long way toward making her feel real, believable, and sympathetic, even when her actions might tend to make her seem cold-hearted and unsympathetic, much as she is seen by Paul and other characters who do not know her well.
Ã¢ÂÂHead-hoppingÃ¢ÂÂ is a storytelling technique that has fallen out of vogue in recent years, in which the viewpoint from which the story is told jumps from one characterÃ¢ÂÂs thoughts to another characterÃ¢ÂÂs thoughts and back within a single scene. The argument against head-hopping, is that these jumps can confuse the reader and prevent him or her from developing a close rapport with a single character. In some cases, I think that can be an issue. In this case, I thought the technique was handled deftly with clear clues provided each time the viewpoint was changed preventing confusion. And I thought it added depth to the story to be able to see it from multiple viewpoints more or less at once. Given the dichotomy between AngelÃ¢ÂÂs thoughts and actions and the way her actions were interpreted by other characters, I think the technique played a useful role.
This story moved me to tears at a couple of points near the end of the book. I felt my heart breaking right along with Michael at some of the decisions Angel made over the course of the story, but I just had to keep reading to see how it would end. Redeeming Love was a beautiful exploration of love in all its manifestations from the platonic love of friends to the love between a husband and wife, to self-sacrificial love, to the love of God for mankind. All in all, an enjoyable and thought provoking read. Highly recommended.
December 28, 2013
Exquisite Love Story
This book completely surpassed all my expectations. I had heard good things about it, and i thought the premise of it being a retelling of the story of Hosea in the old West sounded intriguing. As I began this book, I was so drawn into the story line that I often found I did not want to put it down.
Angel and Michael Hosea's characters were so skillfully written, and nothing about the story seemed contrived. I found myself near tears so many times. After all, I could relate to Michael's dilemma since I am currently in love with a non-Christian who is so embittered about the things of the Lord. I am always pleased when a Christian author is able to master the technique of weaving Christian principles into a story. And this author does.
As much as I loved the story, I think the author's note at the end of the story truly impressed me as well. It was something to see a Christian author tell her testimony and explain how her salvation experience was somewhat akin to the experience of Angel. I also appreciated the frank way the author dealt with the physical relationship between Angel and Michael. So many Christian authors do not deal with this topic openly, but Francine Rivers is not one of them!
Finally, I think the story of Angel's childhood prostitution and ensuing young life truly broke my heart. I am sure that there were girls just like her who did exist in the history of our race. Sometimes it was hard to read the details, but it only added to the connection I felt with the characters.
December 7, 2013
Redeeming Love is a beautiful retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer set in the 1850's California's gold towns.
At the tender age of eight, Angel was sold into prostitution, and for the next ten years hurt, betrayal, and men's greediness accompany her day to day and night by night life. When yet another man comes to visit her room, Angel is most surprised to hear him say that God told him to marry her. With each passing day Michael demonstrates God's love to Angel in a way she has never experienced defying her personal knowledge and experience of love. Her callused and frozen heart begins to heal , but with it comes the stark reality her past is just too great to for a new start. She runs from her husbands pursuing love, because the Lord's unconditional, redemptive, and all-consuming love is even scarier to her.
Angel's character was impeccably written, she experienced many unexplainable hurts that defined her and made her the sort of woman she is. Not once did she step put of her character and pretend to be something she isn't, many a time her choices were so true to her nature they were hurting to herself and others. Michael's constant hurts were hard for the reader, but his strength and faith in the Lord was inspiring and admirable.
The overall message of God's love was imparted with such wisdom and grace that both the non believer and christian could both glean different lessons from the same book. Francine Rivers created a literary masterpiece that draws you closer to God and leaves much thought for food.
I received this book for free, form Blogging for Books, in exchange for this independent and unbiased review.
*Because the subject included child molestation, rape, and prostitution I recommend this book for mature readers (high-school and up).
November 16, 2013
Plot: This book is loosely based on the Bible story of Hosea. It shows one mans undying love for his wife, and mirrors the unabated love of God for His children.
Characters: From the very first words, until the very last, you follow Angel on a journey to find herself, God, and what it truly means to love and be loved. You see into her soul and you feel her pain and her joy. You see her character evolve into what she never thought she would ever be able to become
Themes: There are two equally important themes in this book; love and forgiveness. Throughout the book, Angel had to learn both. She had to learn how to love and be loved by both her husband and God. She also had to learn to accept the forgiveness offered to her by both.
Emotion: From page one, this book drips with emotion. You feel every emotion that Angel feels. You can feel the emotion of Michael as well. From his desire for his wife, to the pain he feels when she leaves. Every last emotion jumps off the pages and lands right into the heart of the reader.
Overall: This book leaves you enraptured from the very beginning. You are left sucked in to Angel's life as a child and the tragedy that sends her on a downward spiral. It's a hard book to put to down. You're left thinking about the story even when you're not reading it. And you can even begin to see traces of it in your own life
November 12, 2013