Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: "Newton and Polly"

I chose Newton and Polly, the fictionalized story of John Newton and Polly Catlett, as a book to review because:

a) Jody Hedlund wrote it. I've enjoyed every one of her books I've read so far, including Luther and Katharina, also based on the lives of real people.

b) the cover is gorgeous. A gorgeous cover promises a beautiful story, right? (I'll get back to that thought.)

c) I love the song, Amazing Grace (written by John Newton), knew a little about its history, and wanted to learn more.

About halfway through the book, I was ready to close it for good though. John Newton did not start life as a likable character. His choices went from bad to worse no matter what loved ones advised, wished for him, and warned him about. As the consequences he faced grew equally harsh, I got to the point where I just didn't want to read any more. I like to cheer for the heroes of the books I read, not watch characters plunge into deep despair because they refuse to choose what's right. Hedlund couldn't have presented this darkness more perfectly; it was just hard to take in. (I see this as a testament to her skill. She truly brought John Newton to life.)

I kept reading, though, and I'm so glad I did. When the wretch that was John Newton finally saw what God offered and surrendered completely, the story did indeed become at least as beautiful as its cover. Polly's story made the whole thing twice as meaningful.

If you enjoy seeing historical characters come to life in this manner, you will want to read this book. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy to me.

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