Monday, March 27, 2017

Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
Due to everything I heard about this one, I was excited to read it.

Let’s begin with the summary:

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.

And now, my review:

John Newton wrote the infamous hymn “Amazing Grace.” Even folks who may not attend church have likely heard this song. So I was interested in reading this fictionalized account of his life. I had heard there was some violence in his life on board a ship at some point, but I wasn’t prepared for all the violence in this novel. I had to skim. In that way, the story kept pushing me out and I also didn’t quite believe there would be that much violence in his life. Was this normal? Was he just that incorrigible? That much of a target? Is this normal for a novel around this time period? I didn’t see other characters being beaten, only the hero of the story.

When we’re in his POV, we can see he doesn’t always make responsible decisions. But he doesn’t come across as unlikable. You just worry for him, as the reader. That builds tension, which keeps you reading. This is good. But all the beatings kept me from reading the entire book, especially when things took a turn for the worse (see summary above).

I enjoyed his interactions with Polly. Though she was naïve, I felt readers could sympathize with her.

If you enjoy adventures and don’t mind reading about several beatings, you may enjoy this story. There was a lot of potential here, unfortunately, the story just wasn’t for me.  

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