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Showing 1-10 of 887 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 967 reviews
on September 30, 2010

That is the one word I would use to describe this book. Honestly, this was not a "normal" read for me. Needless to say, life has drama, sorrow and heaviness so generally I tend to lean towards light and easy reading to balance it all out. This book, however, would not let me put it down. It compelled me along, beckoning to me to continue reading.

This driving story follows the (author enhanced) life of John Bunyan, writer of Pilgrim's Progress, and his second wife Elizabeth. This book was well researched and it's always amazing to read of different time periods and what those people had to endure. A greater appreciation for this family and the hardships and sacrifices they had lived through in order to survive was unimaginable. After reading this powerful portrayal, a deeper sense of purpose and conviction can not help to be felt in one's heart. I am so proud of Jody accomplishment and the obvious Inspiration behind this book's story.
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on September 3, 2011
I've read, and enjoyed, historical romance before. But, this is the first one I've encountered based on the Puritan way of life. I normally go for a good mystery or a crime drama with offbeat humor. Lately I've been indulging in young-adult paranormal. I'm also a big sic-fi fan and I throw in the occasional classic now and then. So, it would stand to reason that I might hold a small fear of this book turning out to be dull. I mean, come on... Puritans. How can that be engaging and romantic?

But, engaging and romantic it is. The book opens with a heart-wrenching scene that grabs the reader and the plot never lets go. You're immediately thrust into the lives of the main characters, John and Elizabeth, with a special peek into their hearts. Fear, worry, doubt and second-guessing. These topics of romance are always in season, Puritan or not. But, the Puritan part of the story is essential. It's the love of God that causes the steadfastness of conviction that leads to much of the story. It's an imbedded part of who the characters are and what makes them tick. But, you don't have to be religious or a believer to fully fall in love with the Puritan's of The Preacher's Bride and be wringing your hands or cheering with fulfilled hope depending on the page.

This novel is based on the real lives of John and Elizabeth Bunyan. Writer's license is taken with the romance of the couple, as well as creating personalities of the townspeople, while keeping most historical moments intact. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress. A book I've never read, but I'm going to now.

So grab this one. Don't let it pass you by because you think it's all about religion. It's about people. Their hopes, dreams, fears and struggles. It's an awesome, intriguing page-turner for anyone regardless of your usual reading genre.
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on March 21, 2014
When John Costin’s wife dies of childbirth fever, Elizabeth Whitbread agrees to become his housekeeper and fights for the life of his infant son, although John is sure the baby isn’t going to survive. At first John doesn’t think he needs a housekeeper, but he changes his mind as he tries to juggle his tinker business with his growing calling as a Puritan preacher. But politics are precarious in England in the mid-1600’s, and, when Oliver Cromwell dies, John’s ministry comes under attack, and Elizabeth’s help becomes dangerous. In addition, he makes several mistakes in his dealings with Elizabeth, and sometimes he ends up making things harder than they should have been.

Given some of the negative reviews, I had a few misgivings when I began this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. During the Stuart era, men’s attitudes were different, and John reflected some of this. However, he did come to realize his failures and grow and change. I found some minor problems, but they did not change the enjoyment. At first, I though the narrative didn’t reflect the time period very well, but this seemed to improve in the last half. People in the book referred to themselves as Puritan, which would have never happened, because it was a very derogatory term then. “Narry” was used several times for “nary.” Yet, the story used correct research in the plot without bogging down in the history. Although the times and the story are turbulent, the book ends well. In her notes, the author said she loosely based the story on John Bunyan, and I appreciate that she didn’t use his name for her character, since this is definitely fiction. I’m not sure I agree with the ethics of using actual people and fictionalizing them, so they think and do things that may not come close to actuality. This seems to be a trend today, even in Christian novels, and it bothers me. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me. Overall, I enjoyed the book enough to give it five stars, and I will look for more from this author.
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on January 5, 2014
I actually did not realize this was based on the life of John Bunyan until after I finished the book and read the author's notes at the end. I'm kind of glad, becuase I enjoyed the story so much--and then to find out that it was based on some historical fact really drove the story home to my heart even that much more. Excellent read.

To comment about some of the other comments....the hero of the story, I felt, was quite true to life for someone dedicated to preaching "back then". Look at Paul the apostle in the Bible...he was so dedicated to God that he didn't even want to have a family. I felt like the hero in this story was torn between two, but felt he could not let God down. I have actually known preachers who feel this way about God and about their family, so I did not feel like the character was badly drawn at all--as a matter of fact, I think the author did a very good job trying to guess how things may have gone in a family such as this, during this particular time period. People were much more used to hardships back then--we are, in general, much more coddled in our day, and would not understand the mentality back then. The author did a good job, I feel, trying to paint a true picture of the times.

I also think that Elizabeth's character was also done well. She wasn't necessarily perfect, but as a Puritan, she had been trained from an early age to be, basically, "perfect". If you remember, the religions of the hero and heroine were slightly different, hers being more strict, so it follows easily that she would seem more "perfect" than him. And when her station in life changes--you also notice her frustrations increase. For most of the book she had no expectations, and thus no reason for having faults. But as her life changes, she does tend more toward anger and different struggles. Quite realistic for someone of her religion, I felt.

I am an avid reader of all sorts of books....and found no great faults in how the characterization and plot were done in this story. I did feel like more should have been done to protect the heroine from the bad things that happened to her, but on the other hand, the author definitely could have been "meaner" to her and was not, so that was a relief.

Very well done book....kudos to the author. Loved it.
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on April 16, 2014
The Preacher's Bride is historical fiction at its very best, it is based on people that actually live in the mid 1600's and followed many of the recorded historical events of the time. The man character, John Costin is based on the life of John Bunyan the author of Pilgrim's Progress and his wife Elizabeth and their children. Bunyan's first wife died leaving him with four children, one a blind daughter and one a new born infant with little or no help from the community, he struggled to keep his family together and still answer his calling to preach from God. The time period was full of tension and problems between the Independents and the Royalists over religious freedom and many of the events in the book actually took place.

The story is a compelling one that shows the hardship of the times for the common people and the ruthlessness of the powerful elite nobility. Two sets of laws were applied to each group with the common people having no power to protect them from the injustice inflicted in the name of the law by wealthy and powerful men of the era. From the struggles of the common men of this period comes many of the laws and ways of government that came from England to the American colonies. Jody Hedlund did an excellent job showing how the common people lived and how difficult their lives were in the 1600's.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 29, 2012
This book was satisfying from beginning to end. The characters were believable and intensely thoughtful. Watching as the main character grew in her relationship with both her love interest and her relationship with God was handled so well that at times I felt like I was standing in her shoes. I felt for the baby, Thomas, and for how badly the main character wanted to help him. You could see from early on in the book what the ultimate result would be as far as the ensuing love story, but there were so many happenings between the beginning and the end that I never found the book predictable.

This book had excellent dialogue and the author never made her characters seem overstated or self-important. This was one instance where I really liked the main character from the beginning and my respect for her grew as the book progressed. I love it when you reach the end of a book and you still like the character you began with.

The love story in this book begins slowly and carefully. It never feels rushed or silly. The author took great care in cultivating a believable situation for her characters and the end result was a story that kept me turning pages and hoping for the best for those I was reading about.

Since this story was based on the historical figures of John Bunyan and his wife Elizabeth, it is clear to me that this author must have done a lot of research to tell such a compelling story using her imagination intertwined with historical fact. She did such a clever job of interweaving fact and fiction that it came out as smooth as silk. I loved this book and will keep it to read again in the future.
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on February 22, 2017
Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride is a debut novel filled with rich historical detail and emotional depth. Based on the life of evangelist John Bunyan and his wife Elizabeth, Jody highlights the religious persecution and class division within a close knit Puritan community in 1659 England. It encompasses the last days of Oliver Cromwell’s rule following the English Civil War. The book opens with a heart-wrenching scene that immediately hooks the reader until the last page. Each of the main and secondary characters have complex personalities that make them unique. Elizabeth Whitbread views herself as plain and inconsequential. However, her strong faith guides her into helping those in need. John Costin is a newly widowed father who believes it is his destiny to preach Gospel to the poor. As an unlicensed preacher, he becomes a prime target of Royalist supporters. Their fragile relationship is hindered by the demands of others in the congregation, rumors, threats, and betrayal. The powerful themes that emerge within the historical romance include: Hopes. Dreams. Struggles. Fear. Worry. Doubt. Second-Guessing. Despite the danger, the unbending faith and enduring love makes The Preacher’s Bride an interesting read.
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on December 2, 2012
This was my first read of a Hedlund novel, but it definitely won't be my last.

I was a little worried about how I would enjoy the Puritan setting, but once I got into it, the story flowed really well. The beginning was so dramatic, but in a good way! I was immediately sucked into the story. Thanks to this novel, I know that I can enjoy the Puritan setting now. I came to love Elizabeth, and although I never care for John the way I wanted to, his turn-around at the end was really sweet. Their romance progressed in a natural way that felt very believable.

The character motivations seemed a little off to me at times. I felt that they came to their conclusions a little too late. It wasn't quire realistic to me that a man dedicated to preaching would not understand how to treat his wife in a Biblical way. John just didn't come across as very likable to me. I also felt that the villain of the story was perfectly horrible, but I really wanted more reasons behind why he was like that.

My favorite part was definitely the chapters leading up to the end. Elizabeth's bravery was so genuine, and I was really rooting for her. I didn't want to put the book down for the last half at all until I read through to the end, which I thought was perfect!

I already have The Doctor's Lady on my Kindle and Unending Devotion on my shelf at home, and I'm looking forward to both of them.
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on April 8, 2017
Although I had to repeatedly hit the define the word option on my Kindle, I truly found this book to be very interesting. The author used many specific words to describe the world of the Puritans. Since I do not read much historical works from this era, I found a number of words that needed defining. Luckily, the story was entrancing and I had a great empathy for Elizabeth. It was a good read.
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on August 30, 2016
The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund -- I loved this story! It contains historical insights into the lives of the people of this time. I contains love, villains, suspense. It demonstrates the religious persecution that existed then. It demonstrates the Class differences of that era. It demonstrates the attitude towards women of that day (they were considered basically to be nothing more than property and men paid little attention to them outside of the home -- and sometimes inside of the home -- the very same attitude held my many cultures in this world today). And, sadly, even the Church held that same attitude. The author uses the life of John Bunyan as a springboard for this story but it must be remembered that this book is a FICTIONAL love story. Keeping these things in mind, I found this book to be very interesting to the point that I could not stop listening to it (yes, I use both Audible & the Kindle version). At one point, I found myself gasping and yelling (to no one!), NO! Even recognizing this book to be fiction, I am, now, searching for books on the life of John Bunyan as I want to know the real preacher.
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