Sunday, January 30, 2011
The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
Here is the summary provided by www.cbd.com:
In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.
Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.
Based on its cover, my first thought was that The Preacher's Bride was yet another Amish fiction novel, but I was wrong. Instead of the often formulaic stories that are set in Ohio and Pennsylvania, The Preacher's Bride takes place in England and provides a fresh perspective of the religious persecution that the Puritans faced, and it tells the story of Elizabeth Whitbread and John Costin who face the challenge of loving and understanding one another during a tumultuous time in which members of society are at odds because of religious and political convictions.
Ultimately, this novel takes its readers on Elizabeth's journey as she makes the decision to serve a young family and grows to love her new husband. As Elizabeth protects and nurtures her new family, I found that I was riveted to the pages at times, especially during more suspenseful moments of the book. Jody Hedlund skillfully presents Elizabeth as a young woman who possesses doubts and uncertainties, but who perseveres through trials with her own deeply held convictions. I find myself drawing similarities between Elizabeth and Jane Eyre, but I am also strongly influenced by the fact that I watched Jane Eyre shortly after reading this book.
After finishing this novel, I read the "Author's Note" at the end, which provides the historical background from which Jody Hedlund created this compelling story. The end of The Preacher's Bride is even more compelling when I consider the real-life marriage after which her characters are based. I am eagerly awaiting Jody Hedlund's next novel because she won my loyal readership with this promising debut!