Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers ~ Book Review

This book was a re-read for me.    I first read it many, many years ago and remember being really impacted by it and I wanted to see if I got the same reaction from it with a reread at a different point and place in my life.   I think this book has been republished many times with different covers and this is the cover I own.  It is much more muted than the other ones and I kinda like it.

Redeeming Love is a retelling of the book of Hosea from the bible where God told Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer as an allegory to how the nation of Israel kept leaving God and His ways and God's unconditional and loving pursuit to bring Israel back to himself.  The book is mainly in California during the gold rush days of the 1850's.  Angel is a prostitute working in the town of Pair a Dice.  She is highly desired for her beauty.  She comes at a high price but she has also paid a very high price all of her life.  Betrayed by men all her life, starting with her own father, who wanted her aborted, she has built a very high wall around herself to protect herself.  Wanting nothing more than to just escape the life she has been forced to live and to have a little place all her own, she has been saving towards that for years.  But when she tries to get her money for that from the owner of the brothel, she is once again betrayed.  Michael is a vegetable farmer who loves the Lord.  After coming into town to sell his produce, he sees Angel walking down the street and feels the Lord telling him to marry her.  He tries to obey and uses all his earnings to try to see Angel, show her unconditional love and convince her to marry him telling her he offers her a better life.  But he is met with disdain and contempt.  Eventually they do end up marrying but only because Angel is in a position where she can't refuse.  As Michael tries to build a home for them and see her as God does and tries his best to show Angel God's love, he is met with resistance at every turn because Angel sees herself in a very different light.  She has one thing on her mind, and that is running and getting the money she worked so hard for so that she can fulfill her dream.  Michael knows Angel's brokenness can be healed but only through God's love but can Angel see through her own pain to realize that.

Once again this book greatly impacted me.  The first time it was with the powerful pursuit and love God has for his lost ones, myself included.  This time, I think I was more impacted with my own deep down attitudes and thoughts.  For that reason I'm glad I reread it.  It gave me such an insight and an opening of my eyes into to those things I might up to this point have jumped to conclusions about.   My eyes and heart were more opened to the ugliness that might put a person on their path.  And my eyes were definitely opened to how a person may struggle with the love of God and the new life God wants to give them.  My heart broke as through Angel's story I saw myself sometimes reflected more in the character of Paul who defined hypocrisy at it's finest rather than in some of the other Christian characters who showed love, grace and mercy towards Angel.  Depending on where we are in our own walk there are characters one could relate to in this story.  It really shows the depth of the story that it spoke so differently to me this time than the last time I read it.

In the beginning the Publisher has a preface and an admonition that they would give the book a PG-13 rating because of the story of adultery, marital infidelity and prostitution.  There are also instances of child abuse and physical and mental abuse in it so they caution to use discretion with young readers.  It takes on many very difficult issues that our society and people as individuals still face in today's world.  Because of this the story may be triggering for some and offensive and controversial to others.  The author made some choices so that the reader could very thoroughly understand the things that Angel experienced to bring her to the place where she was and to bring a powerful understanding that we in our sin, our  attitudes,  our hurt and pain are never beyond the love and pursuit of God which really the bible also shows in the story of Hosea and Gomer and in the story of mankind in general.  The story showed how some of us make mistakes and return to that which God has saved us from and that not all of us have that desired immediate total heart change when meeting God.  Sometimes there are deep things God has to take care of and it is a struggle to understand how God could love us but God continues to draw us no matter our sin or struggle.   I thought the story powerful though thought it  was just a touch long and a couple of parts unnecessary but it is definitely a story that has great impact in a lot of different areas.

I gave it a 9/10


Barbara H. said...

I read this years ago, too, and wonder what I would think if I reread it now. I do remember thinking the author went farther than needed in their intimate time, but otherwise it was a powerful picture of persistent, gracious love.

Faith said...

I read this book (different cover) when a dear sister in Christ loaned it to me and I LOVED it because I love Hosea. SUCH a great minor prophet that we can all learn from. The story of Hosea and Gomer is powerful. I loved the book and it is actually my fave of Francine Rivers. I don't read all of her books as I find them sappy but this one was definitely NOT sappy. It's raw and real and to me, not offensive at all!!

Susanne said...

Faith: I do not find a one of this author's books sappy in the least. I find she has a real knack for delving into the human sin condition and then showing God's love and grace extended into that. I find her stories rich and multi-layered and there is always something that makes me examine my own walk. Oh well, to each his own.