Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love is a book I’ve been hearing a lot about for several years now. I’ve heard it called “life-changing.” I’ve heard people say it’s beautiful and tragic and uplifting. I’ve heard that it’s just a really good story, but it would make me very sad. They spoke the truth, all these folks. It was amazing, but it was very sad to start.http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1601420617&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifr
Angel has been mistreated her whole life, starting with her mother when she is a young child. At eight, she is sold into prostitution, to a horrible man named Duke. She runs away to California, where she is highly prized due to her beauty and reputation. Accustomed to abuse, neglect, pain, and hopelessness, Angel is resistant when Michael Hosea comes to Pair-a-Dice and claims her for his wife. She repeatedly runs from him, yet time and again he pursues her and forgives her, until finally she learns to trust and love.
It’s a retelling of the book of Hosea, and therefore is also an allegory about the way God loves and pursues us, despite our persistent retreat into sin and death. Much as Angel is more comfortable and trusting of her evil ways, so too are we comfortable in our darkness. But God reaches into the darkness and brings us back out, forgiving and loving us whether we want him to or not.
Really, it’s quite a beautiful love story, both on the surface and below. Michael’s sweet care of Angel is hard to resist, even though, as a cynic, I doubt a man’s ability to love a woman (or vice versa) that way. Rivers’ writing is not irritating, contrived, or corny, as I feel most Christian fiction is. Nor does she avoid difficult topics. She delves deep into the depravities of human-kind, often sparing little detail. While I don’t necessarily enjoy reading about the details involved in, say, murder by strangulation, I do admire Rivers for having the guts to include some gnarly details. Makes the reading much more realistic because life, especially the sin ingrained in us, is messy, ugly, and often horrifying.
The characters, especially Angel, are well-rounded and easy to imagine as real people walking and talking at some point in history. Her chilling and heart-breaking past make her into a woman that is at once easy to sympathize with and easy to judge. Michael seems to good to be true–though Rivers tried hard to give him faults–Duke is an excellent villain, and Miriam & Co. are a lot of fun, and add comic relief and comfort to an otherwise very heavy plot.
I do really love this book, and plan on reading it again, perhaps more than once. I love it for the hope it instills in my heart, that even if no mortal can love me that way, there’s still a God who does. I love that Rivers redeemed religious fiction for me. I love that she wrote a beautiful, historical novel based on Scripture without being preachy. Really, I believe this book was divinely inspired. I recommend it to both men and women–women so you can see how you deserve to be loved, men so you can learn how a lady likes to be treated, and both, so you can better understand just how much God adores you.