Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love. Francine Rivers. 2005. Multnomah. 464 pages. [Source: Bought]

I had heard so many great things about Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love. I was not disappointed with this retelling of the book of Hosea. Redeeming Love is historical fiction. It is set, for the most part, in California in the 1850s. Readers meet a prostitute named Angel. She is angry, bitter, more than a little resigned to her fate.

Angel may hate, hate, hate her life, but can she honestly believe that there is a way out for herself? No. Not really. Not in this life. She may hate being used and abused my men. She may hate the person who runs the brothel. But is she clinging to hope that she'll get her happily ever after? She's too realistic for that. Her life is an unhappy one: it always has been; it always will be. After all, her mother was a mistress. She's an illegitimate child. Rejected forever by her father, but, accepted conditionally by her mother. After her mother's death, she was sold as a child--eight, I believe--into prostitution. It's not that she has never dreamed of starting over. She has dreamed. In the past. But she's been hurt and disappointed so many times. It hurts Angel too much to hope.

Enter Michael Hosea. He is a farmer. He's come into town to sell his crops. He sees Angel. God tells him that she is the one. That Angel--one of the most expensive prostitutes in town--is the one he is supposed to marry and spend his life with. To say he doesn't have some doubt, well, that wouldn't be accurate. He has questions, plenty of questions--among them why and how! But ultimately, Michael Hosea becomes convinced that God is truly calling him to marry Angel, to save Angel from a life of prostitution. He becomes her savior, her redeemer, he buys her--if you will. He's gentle, kind, compassionate, respectful, loving, and patient. He loves her with hesed love.
"Hesed is one-way love. Love without an exit strategy. When you love with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is... Hesed is a stubborn love" (Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 24)
Angel has done nothing to earn his love, to win his respect, to deserve his kindness and patience. Physically Angel may be lovely to look at, but, inside she's a mess. She's broken by shame and guilt. She's angry and scared. Being surrounded by such love doesn't make her feel good, it makes her feel bad because she's holding onto who she was, who she may still be. Wearing a wedding ring doesn't make her feel married, doesn't make her feel loved. She doesn't always see herself the way her husband sees her.

The book is intense, I'd say. The book deals with adult subject matter, but, not in an inappropriate way for most (adult) readers. In other words, while parents can hand a copy of Love Comes Softly to their young daughters, the same can't be said for Redeeming Love. The message is wonderful. The book is very well written. But it's not for children.

Have you read Redeeming Love? What did you think?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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