Newton and Polly

Newton and PollyNewton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Waterbrook Press on September 20, 2016
Pages: 392
Also by this author: Love Unexpected, An Uncertain Choice, Hearts Made Whole, Luther and Katharina, Undaunted Hope, A Daring Sacrifice

 

Publisher’s Summary:

“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 is 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.

Every time I hold a new Jody Hedlund novel in my hands, my reader heart is just alive with anticipation, and I admit, a bit of trepidation – how, oh how could this new story possibly be as good as the one before? And every time even my tiniest worry is unfounded. Newton and Polly is an utterly absorbing story that captivated me with superb historical setting and details, as well as a love that came to life. The plot flows effortlessly, the characters endear themselves so quickly, and the emotions of the romance are poignant and realistic. Jody just knows how to pen an engaging, entertaining story.

Every time I hold a new Jody Hedlund novel in my hands, my reader heart is just alive with anticipation, and I admit, a bit of trepidation – how, oh how could this new story possibly be as good as the one before?

My favorite reading experience, particularly with historical fiction, is one that keeps me engrossed in the story, while also making me feel like I’m learning new information. I loved all of the details about the smuggling activities – especially those who opposed it – as well as John’s time spent on ships. The details about sailing and what it took to for such large vessels to travel were fascinating to experience through John’s story.

John’s character transformation is one of the best of any character that I’ve read this year. In the beginning, readers only see his potential and feel the same disappointment as Polly at the decisions that he makes. Polly’s reeling emotions are keenly felt, as is the shock at the turn of events in John’s life – events that came about through no one’s fault but his own. Though doubt and despair soon take over John’s life, the story is never without hope. Polly’s character – much like I imagine how she was for John in real life – is the beacon that carries hope throughout the story. Their romance is heartfelt, but never overpowers the plot or character arcs. John comes to realize that no woman’s love can keep his despair at bay, nor provide the answers that he denies that he needs for so long. In a compelling journey of grace and mercy, John’s perspective soon changes from self-seeking to seeking God – Polly being the one who planted the seeds of God’s love and mercy in John’s heart before that journey ever began.

John’s character transformation is one of the best of any character that I’ve read this year.

One thing I have come to adore about Jody’s writing is how she highlights women of history who may otherwise be overlooked or overshadowed by the famous men they loved. In this story, Polly Catlett’s life as a young woman is brought into focus, and although it’s fiction, Jody is respectful of the true events in history. Few liberties were taken with these details, and I appreciate Jody’s effort to stay accurate to what is known about Polly Catlett and John Newton. She also stays true to the unsavory details of the time, of which there were many, and I’m so glad that she chooses not to change or sugarcoat anything for the sake of making things more comfortable or easy for her characters. Jody creates a plausible, realistic story for them, keeping many important details of the beginning of their relationship for authenticity. Through Jody’s story, I can entirely see how the travails of his life before he found God to provide the impetus for penning a song with as much power and emotion as “Amazing Grace.”

One thing I have come to adore about Jody’s writing is how she highlights women of history who may otherwise be overlooked or overshadowed by the famous men they loved.

Fans of Jody will no doubt be captivated with Newton and Polly, and readers new to her books will find a gem of a story. Highly recommended for readers of historical, romantic, sweeping stories.

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