Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Now remembered as the author of the world s most famous hymn, 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.

I can’t remember what I first read about John Newton, but since that novel I’ve felt a deep and personal connection to his story. I feel like every Christian, on some level, can relate to John Newton. And while, on a novel level, I really enjoyed this book, as a lover of all stories about John Newton—well, it’s 3.25 star book for me. I could have rated it four stars. But I had some issues.
This book is written as a romance. It’s advertised as a romance. It is a romance. But I felt like this story of told a small chunk of his story, and some of it got passed over to make room for the romance. We didn’t get to see a lot of John’s story, and I felt that really took away from the character depth.
Obviously if everything had been included this novel could have been a mammoth. I understand, on a fiction standpoint, why. But as a reader, as someone who knows John Newton’s story, I felt a little cheated coming out of this book. I feel like the romance should have been the first 75% of the book so that we’d be able to see the true impact John Newton left on the world. I saw only 25% of the things that I admire so much about Newton.
I realize I sound super negative, but I really did enjoy the story, just not as John Newton one. It was a good romance, and the writing was fantastic. I just had a lot of problems with how John Newton’s story translated into this novel.

sexual – intense kissing scenes. references to sex.
drunkenness – John starts out as a drunk.
violence – mild
cussing – none. three

Who’s your historical hero?


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