Book blurb (from Good Reads, with some edits by me)
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 Whitbread ignores John Costin’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 family she’s come to love.
It’s been ages since I’ve read a book with romance as one of its central themes. It’s been even longer since I’ve read historical fiction. And Christian fiction? I’ve read one book that fits that description in my entire life, before this one. But I’ve been reading Jody Hedlund‘s blog for a while now and was interested to see what her writing was like. So when my blogging buddy Susanna Leonard Hill said she had a copy that she wanted to send on a ‘book journey’, it seemed meant to be… 😉
I must admit, it took me a little while to get into The Preacher’s Bride. This wasn’t because the beginning was dull, far from it. I just wasn’t used to reading fiction with such strong religious content. But the religious aspect made complete sense in the context of the book, so I soon settled into it. And when I did, boy did the plot grab me. As Elizabeth became more and more attached to the Costin family, so did I. Jody’s descriptions of the struggling family were 100% realistic and my heart broke for them on more than one occasion.
I particularly enjoyed the book’s narration, which shifted effortlessly between Elizabeth and John’s perspectives and gave me wonderful insight into the situation from both points of view. The development of their relationship came across as organic and believable, and I could see clearly why they were suited to each other but also what obstacles lay in their path to happiness.
In my last book review, I said that Katniss Everdeen was an awesome heroine. Even though Katniss and Elizabeth have almost nothing in common, the same praise applies to Elizabeth. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realise that despite their surface differences they actually have a lot in common – they’re both courageous, strong-willed, self-sacrificing and resourceful. Who would have thought!
Another of my favourite characters from The Preacher’s Bride was Mary, John’s blind daughter who is more perceptive than most of us who can see. She was portrayed with great empathy and realism, and I loved reading every scene that she played a role in.
My only criticism of The Preacher’s Bride is that I found some of the descriptions and figurative language a little over done. This could be because I read a lot of young adult fiction, which is typically more sparse, but I did find the narrative just a little too verbose for my taste at times. But this had very little impact on my overall enjoyable of the book, and I can’t wait to read Jody’s second offering, The Doctor’s Lady.
Have you read The Preacher’s Bride? If so, what did you think? If not, do you think you will?
My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable.).