Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love: A novel

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers | LibraryThing

Rivers, F. (2005). Redeeming love: A novel. Sisters, Or: Multnomah. 9781590525135

A number of my friends enjoy Christian Fiction. This is a genre I haven’t explored deeply. When I heard that Redeeming Love paralleled the Old Testament book of Hosea, I placed a request on it through HCPL.

Set during the California Gold Rush of the 1840s – 1850s, Rivers writes the story of Angel (Gomer), a beautiful prostitute, who is saved from a bordello by Michael Hosea, an honest farmer. Angel suffered much as she was sold into the trade as an eight-year old girl and trusts no one, especially not men. However, Michael hears God tell him he is to marry Angel. While he doesn’t exactly want to marry a “soiled dove,” Michael does as instructed. Although Michael treats her with love and respect, Angel can’t resist the depravity of her “previous life.” Michael relentlessly brings Angel back to his farm.

I wouldn’t call this a replica of Hosea but Rivers weaves the Gold Rush into the plot quite well. Also, Rivers paints her version of Gomer with living color. Through Angel, Rivers explores God’s grace and unfailing love. I could also detect Rivers’ previous experience as a secular romance writer. I also appreciated the expression of God’s love. Rivers nor her characters were preachy or sanctimonious and I thank God for that. Love scenes were present but so discreet that I didn’t even notice the first one – definitely for the Christian reader. This may not have been my favorite book for stylistic reasons (repetitive in words and events) but I did like the message.

Three and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Third Day – Gomer’s Theme

Places : New England, New York City, California

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NYT – Inside the List

Inside the List


BONANZA: Charles Portis’s “True Grit” (1968) has popped up on the trade paperback list — it’s No. 11 this week — thanks to the Coen brothers’ film adaptation.

It isn’t the first time the elusive Portis, now living quietly in Little Rock, Ark., has been buoyed by Hollywood. The producer Bob Rehme recently boasted to Michael Cieply of The Times that back in 1968, Paramount staffers bought boxfuls of “True Grit” from stores they thought were being monitored for this paper’s best-seller list, to ensure it would hit in advance of the 1969 John Wayne movie. The book entered the hardcover fiction list at No. 3 and hung on for a 22-week run. It remains Portis’s only best seller, though its heroine, the eloquent underage avenger Mattie Ross, does report working years later on a sure-fire hit of her own, titled “You will now listen to the sentence of the law, Odus Wharton, which is that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead! May God, whose laws you have broken and before whose dread tribunal you must appear, have mercy upon your soul. Being a personal recollection of Isaac C. Parker, the famous Border Judge”

BEST WESTERN: A western novel may need lily-livered varmintry to make the list. Despite the commercial success of highbrows like Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx and Larry McMurtry, we’re a long way from the dust-streaked glory days of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. But while Jorge Luis Borges may have dismissed the American cowboy novel as “a tardy and subordinate genre” (not to mention vastly inferior to Argentine tales of steak-on-the-hoof), the western still gets some serious critical love. As Allen Barra recently pointed out in The Daily Beast, no less a hanging judge than Harold Bloom once called McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” the “strongest imaginative work by any living American writer.” Barra’s own vote for best western goes to Thomas Berger’s “Little Big Man” (1964), followed by McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” (1985). McMurtry’s novel spent 24 weeks on the hardcover list, while Berger got goose eggs. Then again, who needs Borges, Bloom or the best-seller list when you’ve got Janis Joplin? According to Barra, “Little Big Man” was reportedly one of her favorite books.

SHORT CUTS: Short stories — three collections are reviewed on our Jan. 16 cover — are almost as scarce on the list these days as westerns (though L’Amour scored with a collection of adventure tales as recently as 2001, despite being dead for 13 years). Jhumpa Lahiri scored an unusual coup when her highly literary collection “Unaccustomed Earth” hit No. 1 on the hardcover fiction list in 2007. In 2010, only hardened uber-sellers like John Grisham, Stephen King and Charlaine Harris put non-novels on the list. In 2007, King contributed an essay to the Book Review called “What Ails the Short Story.” Though less downbeat than its title, it prompted some grumbling, with one blogger at The Smart Set declaring that “nothing dies more quickly than the ‘death of’ article.” Point taken. Here’s to the life of the short story in 2011.

When will those clouds all disappear? – Hondo by Louis L’Amour


L’Amour, L. (1983). Hondo. New York: Bantam Books.9780553230871

Laconic U.S. Calvary scout Hondo Lane is a heroic knight of the Arizona desert. With his ornery friend of a dog Sam, Hondo comes upon an isolated ranch en route to the post to report a likely Apache raid on white settlers. At this ranch, he meets the lone, proud Angie Lowe and her young son, Johnny. The normally detached “part-Indian” Hondo finds himself loving the Lowes. He asks, “Where is Mr. Lowe?” “Why would anyone abandon such a family?” and “Why do Angie and Johnny remain here when Apache attacks are inevitable?” Leaving the ranch, Hondo journeys through some dangerous conditions towards the post in order to make his report. He ponders who he has just left vulnerable to the volatile and formidable Apache chief Vittoro and his braves.

Hondo employs many elements of the Western genre. First and foremost, the setting is definitely the American West. The story takes place in the Arizona desert in the 1870s. Hondo Lane is a traditional hero of the West; he is the strong, silent type and is the noble knight serving his lord(s) (military officers) and country. He is much more accustomed to being on his own but he immediately takes to protecting the damsel in distress (Angie), her son, and her manor (the ranch) from attackers (Apache Indians). One of the most engaging qualities of Hondo Lane is that he and the reader wonder whether or not he will completely ride off into the sunset or return for the lady of the manor. Angie Lowe appears as a touchstone of civilization as well as Hondo’s match. She is strong, proud, and recognizes the moral fiber in Hondo. Also, Hondo comprises an adventurous, danger element through the Apache warriors. Both the fear and promise of these angry neighbors keeps the characters as well as readers on their toes.

At first, I found Hondo to be rather cliché. This, of course, is based more on film than literature. However, I would say Hondo is the standard and that clichés followed the Hondo formula.

I was happily surprised by Hondo. To my family’s chagrin, I am not much of a Western movie fan and I did not expect to like anything in this genre. At a complete loss, I took Saricks’s suggestion and finally selected Hondo. I was none too fond of the more visceral descriptions of raids and I felt somewhat nauseous in reading about scalping. Still, this added to the urgency, danger, and excitement of the novel. I truly admired Hondo because he was not much for lying and he often put others before himself. He portrayed terrific work ethic and dedication to his job. As a librarian, I like seeing someone who knows his resources as well as his instincts. Additionally, I liked Angie because she took pride in her ranch and did the best she could by it. Angie determined whether one’s character was good based solely on that one person. She was not prone to making generalizations when it came to either men or Apaches. Vittoro is admirable as well in that he stays true to his people and his word. L’Amour made the bad guys despicable, too.

I would recommend this book to a mostly male audience seeking adventure in a past era. This may appeal to historical fiction fans. I think it may be fun to compare the book and the movie in a subsequent book discussion.

Two Out of Five Pearls.