Don’t let the bonnet on the cover fool you. The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund is not an Amish book. Rather it reflects a growing and refreshing trend in Christian historical fiction to explore different eras. The Preacher’s Bride is set in 1659 England, when Cromwell’s Puritans were in power, and it is loosely based on the life of preacher and author John Bunyan.
Plain and outspoken Elizabeth Whitbread only wants to serve the Lord. When John Costin’s wife dies in childbirth, Elizabeth feels led to care for his four children, especially the starving newborn. A tinker by trade, John also travels as a Puritan preacher. He draws the ire of Royalists, who dislike Puritan rule and especially dislike tradesmen presuming to preach—a role reserved for educated gentlemen. Elizabeth and the children soon learn to love each other, but John resists Elizabeth’s presence while drawn to her quick tongue. As John’s enemies turn their venom on those close to him, he begins to see Elizabeth’s worth, but will he be forced to choose between those he loves and God’s calling?
The Preacher’s Bride is historical fiction done right. The setting and period details are rich and fascinating and well researched, but never overwhelm the story. And the story is beautiful. Both John and Elizabeth are characters of depth and integrity, who still having human failings that make them ring true. Their romance is sweet and gripping, and an underlying sense of danger provides just the right amount of tension.
I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially for Anglophiles.