Newton And Polly by Jody Hedlund is a historical Christian romance. In the novel fact meets fiction as Jody Hedlund weaves her story. There are all elements within the novel to make for a compulsive read – a love story, high seas adventures and moral dilemmas. The reader is educated as well. I knew little about John Newton as I began to read but knew so much more at the end.
At the heart of the novel is God. Characters without God have no peace and they mistakenly believe they don’t need Him. “I’m not a man who needs a mythical Being’s help.” We all need God whether we acknowledge this need or not.
The novel shows that some believe they need to work their way to God’s good books but they have forgotten about grace. None of us will ever be ‘good enough’ for God and we cannot work our way to Him but the good news is God’s grace covers each and every one of us.
At times God seems silent. “Maybe if she prayed hard enough, God would hear her.” We feel abandoned “Where was God when this boy needed Him?” God walks alongside us in our suffering. His silence does not equate to His absence. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
The novel deals with the horrendous subject of slavery. “We will always encounter danger when we stand up for what’s right… But I’ve learned to fear God more than man.” Slavery is always wrong but people and even some Christians in the eighteenth century accepted it. Others saw the evils. “Saving another human being from the bondages of slavery and suffering isn’t too radical.” There are some incredibly hard scenes to read but Jody Hedlund needs to portray the evils and cruelty of this barbarous trade,
There is the theme of fathers in the novel. Newton struggled to maintain a relationship with his father and as such, he failed to connect with his heavenly Father. Newton projected all that he hated in his earthly father onto his heavenly One. “If God existed He’d abandoned him just like his father had.” God will never leave us alone. He is the perfect Father who will not let us down.
Throughout the whole novel there is love – the steadfast love of God, parental love and the blossoming romantic love. All are beautifully written and presented.
The novel is wonderfully written. There are some light hearted moments which help to break up some of the more intense scenes. There are some delightful exchanges between Newton and Polly, especially concerning the cats.
The novel reveals how we achieve contentment and happiness. Some mistakenly believe it is accumulation of riches and possessions. This is wrong. True happiness and contentment is never found in our stuff. It is found in the Person of God.
A wonderful book and I can highly recommend it.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.