The Preacher's Bride
The setting of this book is Bedford, England in the year 1659. This was a time in history when Oliver Cromwell was in power in England and his puritanical beliefs were fostered and encouraged. There were many Puritans living in Bedford, including the main female character, Elizabeth Whitbread.
Elizabeth is the second oldest of seven daughters. Her family owns and operates a bakery. She works there during the day and on the Sabbath takes bread to the poor. She has promised to marry Samuel Muddle at summerÃ¢ÂÂs end and quit working as housekeeper for Brother Costin and his family. She began working for Brother Costin at the elders request after his wife died two weeks after giving birth to her fourth child. Elizabeth wants to serve the Lord by helping those in need. However, as the summer progresses, Elizabeth falls more and more in love with her four young charges and their father. During this summer she also is attacked on two separate occasions by a Royalist Anglican man. He wants her to spy on John Costin and sneak away some of his rebellious papers that could be grounds for a charge of sedition. He beats Elizabeth, but she keeps JohnÃ¢ÂÂs children safe. There are other attempts on her life by this man, and John is determined to keep her safe. How can he do this?
John Costin has been a Puritan a scant five years, but in that time, he has become one of their leading preachers even though he has had no formal education or training. This lack of training and education is one of the focal points of his enemies. He is a mere commoner preaching the Gospel. Only those sent by the Church and properly ordained should be qualified to do this according to Royalists. Royalists also support the king, not Cromwell. John spends his time writing, preaching and tinkering. His tinkering pays the bills, but his passion is preaching GodÃ¢ÂÂs word. When he realizes his enemies are becoming more desperate to silence him, he opts to marry Elizabeth. She will be a mother to his children and free him up to spend more time preaching. Elizabeth has other ideas about how a marriage should be and must face heartbreak and grief when her husband rejects her love.
This is a story of two people and their dedication to serve God no matter the cost to themselves. These two main characters are based in historical people, and some of the events in the story actually happened in real life. I find that fascinating to read Ã¢ÂÂwhat might have happenedÃ¢ÂÂ in this fictional story. Once readers turn the first page, it will be easy to keep reading until the end of the story. IÃ¢ÂÂm looking forward to more interesting stories from Jody!
November 8, 2013
Just when I thought I knew about PuritansÃ¢ÂÂ¦hereÃ¢ÂÂs a novel about one of the most famous ones in history. And a great one too!
Jody Hedlund paints a vivid and accurate picture of the Puritan culture and era centuries ago in The PreacherÃ¢ÂÂs Bride. While the Puritans lived out their faith much different from the way I live mine, there is plenty to learn from. I found it historically intriguing as well, from the conflict (and often persecution) that happened depending on which English king or queen took the throne (Henry VIII, then his daughters Mary and Elizabeth).
And now I know why the Puritans high tailed it to the U S of A.
I really enjoyed the story and her characters. I liked that the main character Elizabeth was a strong woman with a feisty spirit, who stood up for what was right and could give a much needed tongue lashing to some well deserving people. I really enjoyed the story of her and John and what they went up against. Times were different, but love never really changes does it?
Looking at the culture of England and specifically the Puritan culture in the 1600s, I canÃ¢ÂÂt help but chuckle at the differences. Example A) Elizabeth freaking out over seeing a man without a shirt on. Oh how different today is! One look at a Victoria Secrets commercial and they would have died. But it shaped much of history and itÃ¢ÂÂs a fascinating time period to study. Probably why I enjoyed it so much.
I didnÃ¢ÂÂt realize until after I finished that this story was based upon real life preacher, John Bunyan and his second wife Elizabeth. So sad to think there really were insane people who thrived off of harming others with violence and intimidation. Even worse that there are still people like that today.
History sidenote: Bunyan wrote one of the classics of Christian literature, PilgrimÃ¢ÂÂs Progress (you can get it free for the kindle), and is a key figure in Christianity history (he was in prison for twelve years for preaching scripture). His book inspired C.S. LewisÃ¢ÂÂ PilgrimÃ¢ÂÂs Regress (another creative read that documents LewisÃ¢ÂÂ conversion).
February 28, 2013
I would've liked it, but there's one problem.
In the beginning, I enjoyed reading about the characters and life in Puritan England. When I got to the part about John's daughter Mary and reading that she was blind, I thought, "Wait, John Bunyan had a blind daughter named Mary." Then, when I read that John Costin was a tinker (just like John Bunyan) I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. (If you don't know who John Bunyan is, he's the author of Pilgrim's Progress.) After I read the book, I read the author's note stating that she based this book on the life of Elizabeth Bunyan, John Bunyan's wife.
I just don't understand why the author would take real people, change their names a bit, tweak some of the events, and call it a work of fiction. I mean, you're talking about REAL people and REAL history here. I feel that shouldn't be touched. (It's a reason why I stay away from biblical fiction.) I don't understand why the author didn't just do a biography on the life of Elizabeth Bunyan. I would've found that enjoyable to read.
So, if you don't mind all this, go ahead and read it anyway because the author does do a really good job with the story and the characters. But if you're like me, then I suggest you don't pick up this book.
October 13, 2012
Incredible Debut Novel!
The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund is Jody's debut release from 2010, which I somehow missed. The story was inspired by the life of John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress, anyone?), but Jody chose to focus primarily on his second wife, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is a fairly "plain" Puritan woman whose greatest desire is to serve the Lord. When John Costin's wife dies shortly after childbirth, Elizabeth volunteers to step into the role of housekeeper and take care of his four children, including his oldest daughter Mary who is blind. The children quickly come to love Elizabeth, but it takes John quite a bit longer to realize the depth of his feelings for her.
As far as debut novels go, this is one of the best I've read. The story is gripping from the very start and Jody does a fantastic job introducing characters (there are quite a few), explaining the political and religious affairs of the day, and describing the town of Bedford in such a way that you feel like you're walking through the community with a personal tour guide. The dialog was incredibly well-done as well . . . with a few "methinks" and "mayhaps" and "perchances" thrown so you don't forget that you're in England in the mid-1600s.
The relationship between John and Elizabeth certainly didn't come easily. As I read their story I was both frustrated with John and hoping that he would come around (and quickly!). At the same time, I wanted Elizabeth to find something in herself that was worthy of love and for others to see that in her as well. The romantic relationship between John and Elizabeth was unlike anything I've ever read before. While completely innocent and chaste (as was proper for Puritan men and women), it was simultaneously steamy. I'm not sure how she pulled it off but it was perfect!
The story itself is incredibly inspiring. To get a glimpse of what it might have been like to be the wife of one of the heroes of the faith at a time when Christians were regularly persecuted. It made me think more about what it was like to be a Christian in England during that time and also what it's like to be a Christian in many parts of the world . . . even today.
I can't wait to read more from Jody Hedlund. The Doctor's Lady (2011) is definitely on my TBR list! I can't wait to see what she publishes this year.
This book was loaned to me by a friend. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
January 16, 2012