Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see

Now remembered as the author of the world's most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century, as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett's enchanting voice, caroling. He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John's reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

I loved this book!!  This story about John Newton - the author of the world's most famous hymn, Amazing Grace - and the woman he loved, was very well written and captured my attention from the moment I first started reading it.

John Newton was not a boy/man that most fathers would want their daughter to fall in love with and marry.  But he had a very charming personality that could woo just about anyone.   When he meets Polly, he falls instantly in love with this beautiful, devout girl.  But John has given up on God and doesn't think He really cares for him or what happens to him.   And John is still young and very impulsive.   So even though Polly also feels this intense connection to him, John has a long way to go in order to win her heart and her father's approval.

Although Polly tries to be as devout as others think she is, she struggles with the same humanness we all do.  She's tempted by the intense attraction she feels to John.   She struggles with envy towards the more affluent trappings that her friends have.  And although she loves and admires her father, she struggles with the honesty & integrity with which he does his job, which is what keeps their family from the bribes that make her friends families more wealthy.   She struggles in feeling that her prayers are going nowhere and and worries that she feels no closeness to God.

As I read this book, I was drawn into John and Polly's world.  I shook my head every time John made an irresponsible decision and groaned when he continued his sinful ways and suffered the consequences of his actions.  I felt the pull of love between John and Polly every time they met and cringed when it looked like all was lost.  Tears came to my eyes at the poignancy of the moment when John comes through the storm and re-evaluates his life.   And I read with bated breath towards the end to see if Polly would choose an uncertain but love filled future with John or a more affluent life with Billy.

What a journey!  With themes of love, redemption, forgiveness and the mercies of God, you'll be blown away with the depth of feeling in this book and how much more you can appreciate where John Newton's song, Amazing Grace, came from!

*Thanks to Blogging For Books for a copy of this book. I was not paid or required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*

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Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books. Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life. She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award. She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

You can find her on her website as well as: