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Book Review: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Author: Francine Rivers
Genre: Christian Romance
Pub. Date: May 2005
Format: Paperback, 464pp
Publisher: Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

In an effort to be a better husband, I asked my wife to pick her favorite Christian fiction book from a multitude on our shelves at home. (She is an avid reader of this genre, which, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am decidedly not.) It took her several weeks to find the one she most wanted me to read, not because she was trying to please me, but because she has a favorite book for all moods and seasons. After a time, she finally settled on Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers.

Redeeming Love is (according to the marketing) a retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer, the marriage of a prophet of God to a prostitute of Israel. Rivers has taken this plot, written it primarily from the perspective of Gomer (or Angel a she is know in this narrative) and set it in 1850s California.

It is the time of the Gold Rush, were men were seeking wealth and pleasure, and a society was built that lacked the presence of women. Hence, the popularity of prostitution. Angel is one such prostitute. Raped at eight, it is very nearly the only life she has ever known. Into her life steps Michael Hosea, a religious man who talks to God. Following the Lord�s instruction, he sets out to marry Angel. Through a series of calamities, not the least of which is Angel�s own shame, he succeeds. But as in the biblical story, Angel returns to the life of prostitution, only to be rescued again by the patient and loving Michael. Eventually love blossoms between them, and God�s purposes are fulfilled.

The biblical story was designed by God to be metaphor for the actions of Israel, His chosen nation. Israel was Gomer, constantly prostituting itself before false idols. God was represented by Hosea, constantly loving His nation, forgiving it and restoring it. Rivers has taken the metaphor of Scripture and made it deeply personal. Angel also has false gods, gods we ourselves worship in our modern culture. Pride, perfection, relationships all show up and are shown for the false gods they are.

As with any Christian fiction story, there is a tale of fall and redemption. But the fall here is exceptionally great, and the redemption even greater.

I disliked the epilogue that Rivers tacked onto the story, while it does wrap up everyone�s story completely; it breaks so completely from the narrative before it, even to the point of view, that it seems flat and without interest.

It only took me two days to read this book in its entirety, so I think it evident that it was enjoyable, even for one (like me) who dislikes Christian fiction in general, and Christian romances most especially.

The idyllic setting, the delve into human nature, and ultimate triumph of Angel and Michael’s love of God and each other all make this a most compelling and enjoyable read.