Even if you haven’t been in church in ages, you probably know the song “Amazing Grace.” You probably know the tune, even if you can’t remember the words.
This beloved hymn of the church has an interesting backstory, and Jody Hedlund is just the author to tell it.
In her latest historical fiction, Newton & Polly, Hedlund recounts the forbidden romance between John Newton, the composer of Amazing Grace, and the woman who would become his wife, Polly Catlett. Theirs was a relationship that almost wasn’t, and the novel takes us on the up-and-down journey of their relationship and the spiritual work that takes place in each of their lives. (I could stare at that gorgeous cover for days!)
Hedlund goes so far to say that if not for Polly, Newton might never have written “Amazing Grace.” What a loss that would have been! (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my review.)
I remember watching a movie years ago called “Amazing Grace,” and Newton plays a part in that story, but this story is all about his troubled youth, his distance from God, and his infatuation with Polly Catlett. It give us the historical background for not only the song but for Newton’s later involvement in the abolitionist movement in England.
In typical Hedlund fashion, the book is chock full of actual historical events (which are listed in the back of the book) woven into a story that kept me turning page after page. Hedlund’s storytelling style is one of my favorites and always makes me more interested in historical happenings after I’m done reading.
As extra material to the book, Hedlund offers some quotes by Newton, and this one ties well with the book:
If you’ve ever wondered about the story behind the song, or you’re curious about what exactly the author meant by “amazing grace,” or you’re just a huge fan of well-written historical fiction, then this book is for you!