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Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace Paperback – September 20, 2016
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“Amazing Grace, indeed! Newton and Polly is one of the most powerful love stories I have ever read, wrenching the heart and waking the soul. If you read one book this year, this should be it.
—Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series
“A powerfully moving account of one man’s epic journey from doubt and despair into a world of radiant faith. Newton and Polly is impeccably researched and punctuated with glints of genuine humor… I loved it!”
—Elizabeth Camden, RITA® and Christy award-winning author
“A sweeping tale rife with adventure, love, and God’s relentless pursuit of his own. With her signature depth and detail, Jody Hedlund plunges her readers into a fascinating and powerful story that has gone untold—until now. Set sail with Newton and Polly and become anchored in amazing grace.”
—Jocelyn Green, award-winning author of the Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War series
“In this story of the lives of John Newton and Polly Catlett, author Jody Hedlund skillfully weaves together the history, romance, and Christian faith that inspired the world’s best-loved hymn. Evocative and illuminating.”
—Dorothy Love, author of Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray: A Novel
“Jody Hedlund’s historical detail is immaculate, and her storytelling will bring you to tears. Newton’s conversion was truly remarkable, sparking a legacy that has impacted millions of lives. Newton and Polly invites readers into that powerful experience.”
—Sigmund Brouwer, award-winning author of Thief of Glory
Praise for the Christy and ECPA Novel of the Year
Luther and Katharina
“Jody Hedlund’s Luther and Katharina is an absorbing and deeply researched look into the life and ministry of a figure in church history I’d previously known only from a few dusty facts. Jody breathes life into those facts with this fascinating and intimate portrayal of Martin Luther’s life. Luther and Katharina is a compelling tale of tested faith, tumultuous church history, and incredible courage against daunting odds—and one of the most unique love stories I’ve read in ages.”
—Lori Benton, author of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn and The Wood’s Edge
“Complex and emotionally rich, Luther and Katharina gripped me from the very start and never let go. Not even when the final page was turned. The history, the love story, the depth of faith in this novel is masterfully woven by Jody Hedlund.”
—Tamera Alexander, USA Today best-selling author of To Win Her Favor and A Lasting Impression
About the Author
Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story opens with Polly Catlett enjoying the tradition of wassailing with her a bit rebellious aunt and her group. They go door-to-door singing and offering ale drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts. Polly’s voice warms the hearts of villagers and one visitor, a sailor by the name of John Newton. As faith connects them again, a relationship develops, which is set against historic backdrop of English smuggling issue. “Without the cost of the import duties, the smuggled tea, coffee, tobacco, spirits, and silks were more affordable.” As weeks pass, Polly’s favorite part of the day becomes composing with John. Soon after, John sets sail, and Poly, heads to boarding school to get an education she longed for. His life of degradation on sailing boats continues until a stormy night, which opens his eyes and changes his life forever.
“Amazing Grace” – “the most beloved hymn in the world, as well as the most recorded and most sung. It has been sung for over 240 years across all continents and all cultures by billions of people.”
When the old hymn speaks of “a wretch like me”, it was spot on in describing John Newton. He was not the kind of man a father desires for his daughter—and Polly’s father was no exception. Not only was Newton a lover of the pubs, but he was lazy scamp, with very little chance of being able to adequately provide a good future for a wife of Polly’s stature. Even John’s own father had grown frustrated with his rapscallion ways. And to top it off, Newton mocked God!
Though Polly was a God-fearing woman, John did not share her desire to please the Lord. He had been raised for only a few years by his mother, a woman of devout faith. After her death, Newton grew to not only doubt the existence of God, but to ridicule those who clung to their trust in the Lord.
I must admit, much like the fathers in this story, I had also grown tired of Newton’s ways. Well into the book, I wondered how much more I wanted to read about his silly antics and irresponsibility. Perhaps it was due to having little time to read, and having to grab a few moments here and there. Or perhaps Hedlund expertly described how very much a wretch was John Newton! It isn’t typical to dislike one of Hedlund’s main characters—but I did in fact dislike him. At the same time, I could identify with him.
Newton’s story is much like the prodigal son of the Bible. And if not for Polly Catlett, John Newton would have had no ambition to leave his reprehensible life and return home, and thus would not have experienced his own life-changing event that inspired him to write the beloved hymn.
Newton’s undying love for Polly was the driving force that made him want to be more than he was—his feelings for her never wavering. And just when Polly was ready to move on, God moved in a gargantuan way.
This book belongs on your shelf. It is a love story as great as any. As far as the writing, the pace, descriptions, character depth, etc… It’s Jody Hedlund, so of course it’s wonderful.
***I received this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Polly, while her struggles are not as obvious, is too in need of God's grace. She struggles with pride and other heart issues. I was incredibly touched and moved by this story. Hedlund penned their story so well and brought forth their pitfalls, love and deep truths of faith with such ease and flow, that it all felt real and natural. I especially love how at the end of each novel, Hedlund goes into separating the fiction and the fact. She references her sources for the facts, for those of you who would like to dig deeper.
I am still just meditating upon this story. Truly a reflection of the power of grace and love at work. I highly recommend the read!