Redeeming Love - A Review
I'm a disgustingly fast reader. I was reading Enid Blyton at age 6 and Carolyn Keene at age 9. I am absorbed by good narratives, often feeling connected to the fate of the characters and so my primary aim, of course, is to find out what happens to them in the end. If the narrative is good enough, I re-read it and absorb details that I miss the first time around. I started reading Redeeming Love on Sunday night - and finished it last night. That's a bit quicker than my normal pace, because a) I had the time to read, b) I enjoyed reading the novel and c) I wanted to finish it and post this review!
So don't think I've given this novel a thorough reading. I mean, I read it - but not the delicate details. I didn't absorb all the romance and nuances completely.
Redeeming Love enthralled and absorbed me. The writing style is emphatic, defined and moves at a good pace, yet is romantic and soft too. The plot is from the Bible, so it's a re-telling, really. It's mostly believable, although I found the character of Michael Hosea just a bit too romantic and dreamy. There was a sprinkling of schmaltzy cheese in the story, too, which was distracting to the fundamental essence of the story.
The first thing I noticed about this novel was the intense sexual desire and attraction between the characters of Michael and Sarah/Angel and Paul and Miriam, yet the lack of graphic sex scenes. There is an earlier version of this novel which included details of the sex scenes, but they were removed in a new version created in 1997 to make it more palatable for the Christian market. It's a noticeable omission if you've read secular novels before. Personally, I found it a welcome omission. As a mother-of-five-married-to-a-smokin'-hot-man, I know how it all happens and I don't need a recount of another couple's intimate times. In my opinion, sex is a private thing between a husband and wife, even if they're fictional characters.
I was drawn immediately to the character Sarah/Angel. Whilst reading Redeeming Love, I saw my own thoughts about myself echoed in Sarah/Angel's. It was confronting and unsettled me a bit. I ached for this precious girl who was almost destroyed by selfish, cruel and stupid adults. The most confronting part of the story was when Angel scrubs herself raw in the freezing cold creek to try to get rid of her uncleanliness on the inside.....it reminded me of myself - trying madly to scrub away the filth of my mistakes and poor choices that ultimately weren't my fault, with my constant pushing, pushing, pushing to achieve more, work harder to get everything right.
Lots of my friends said that Redeeming Love would make me cry. I don't cry often (except at homecoming videos on YouTube!) and I didn't cry whilst reading Redeeming Love. But it pried a bit more off the wall I have built around my heart to survive over the past 33 years. It let a little more of God's love and light in. The conclusion of the story spoke directly to my soul about God's love and grace towards those who love Him. I know that when I approach his throne, naked and exposed at the end of my life to explain what I have done with the life He has given me, He will be like Michael Hosea. Gracious, kind and overflowing with love for His beloved.
The history of the novel was interesting and accurate (as far as I can tell). I really enjoy learning about how people lived back years ago. It makes me appreciate my white appliances and my shower! Reading about unsavoury and tragic circumstances in past times was difficult but beneficial overall.
The ending of the novel was a little different to what I expected. I thought it would be a tragic and heartbreaking conclusion. But seeing the metaphor of the story, I understand why it ended the way it did.
This sometimes dark, sometimes overbearingly beaming, but ultimately uplifting saga has strong themes of love, grace, redemption and sacrifice. I enjoyed the rollercoaster ride from brothels to the sweet, clean farm life, to heartbreak, to perfect joy with the conclusion, although subdued and predictable, neatly tying off the story at a sweet and magnificent peak.
Now, if you'll excuse me - I'm off to read the real story of Hosea and Gomer.