Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

“Writers like Rivers are why people buy Christian Fiction.”
Publishers Weekly

Christian Historical Fiction

Even though the cover looks like a Harlequin romance novel this is hands down my best historical fiction book, and now and then, I spoil myself and reread it.  Yes, it has been around for more than twenty years, but if you have not read it, I 100% recommend that you do so.  Especially since we are expecting the movie in 2022 (a film adaption with D.J. Caruso as director.) My personal copy has been lent out so many times, and I have gifted it to many.

This is the first book Francine Rivers wrote after becoming a believer, and she still says it is her favourite book.  Based on the biblical book of Hosea, it tells the story of Micheal and Angel (Sarah) and it never fails to move me.

Warning: It is best to start this book when you know you have time to finish it (I read through the night the first time).  It will grab you, change you, make you cry, and you will be a different person afterwards.

Set in California’s gold country, in 1850, there is a gold rush and with it, men would do what they want and women would sell their bodies for a place to sleep.
Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks God’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally.   Angel expects the worst from him, but slowly, despite her resistance, her hearts begins to soften towards him.  This generates overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear in Angerl and she runs.

Back to the darkness she is familiar with, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.

A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

I think the struggles that Angel and Micheal battle with are real to every person, which is why so many people identify with the book.  It is almost as if your heart is restored to the Lord while reading Redeeming Love.

Although the start of the book feels a little slow and has disturbing content, as Angel is abused and sold in prostitution, keep at it.  Thankfully there is not much detail, but the impact of events is part of the trauma in the story that needs to be redeemed from.  The storyline is believable and relatable, but if you take this story only as a romance (as it is written), and don’t realise that there is the greater story in God’s talking to us, and the characters, you miss the whole point of this book.

It is a book about God’s love that is limitless, powerful and unrelenting.  

Another aspect of the book that I found fascinating is how Angel struggles to decipher if Michael is her captor, Savoir, God, or husband.  I think every woman goes through this struggle as we often look to the men in our lives to solve all our problems, including the wealth of emotional baggage we women tend to pick up.  Francine Rivers shows this struggle in stages over the course of the entire book. I would not recommend reading this book hoping to learn any particular lessons about Biblical manhood; it is not the book’s point. It is all about redemption, in the end, it is God’s one true love that is Angel’s salvation and redemption.

To receive even more from this book, there is a lovely discussion guide here:

Francine Rivers is an excellent writer; I love the way she develops characters in dialogue and carries you through the story so that you truly cannot put it down to “see what happens.”

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do,