The Preacher's Bride

Jody Hedlund, Bethany House, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 9780764208324
Hedlund's debut novel is no light-hearted romp through history. Instead, this double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest for unpublished writers takes on 1650s England during the final days of Cromwell's reign. The Puritans had enjoyed years of freedom, but as Royalists begin to regain power, preachers like John Costin face danger. Costin's wife dies, leaving four children behind, one of them blind and another, newborn. Elizabeth Whitbread, who sees children in need, volunteers to become Costin's housekeeper. She comes to love the children and, eventually, John, yet she is bound by strict Puritan standards and her promise to marry another. Elizabeth faces the threats of a Royalist, the rebukes of powerful Puritans, and the turmoil of her feelings as political events threaten all she holds dear. Hedlund, who based her tale on the life of John Bunyan, writes well of life in Puritan England, though the middle drags and readers will become annoyed with the stubbornness of Costin. Yet this is a fine beginning for a writer we'll hear from again. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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