I love stories of little-known historical figures, and this book fit that description perfectly. Based on a true story, it reads like a true story as well—covering decades of time, it’s not a fast read or filled with nonstop action, but it gives a deep look into the lives and hearts of real people facing real struggles for what they believed.
Because it’s a true story, I’m not going to delve too much into where I disagreed with the characters. Freedom of religion is, after all, the crux of this book. The author is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), which is not readily apparent but did help explain one or two things that seemed odd to me, since Mormonism and biblical Christianity are not equivalent. I applaud her, however, for her accuracy in portraying the orthodox Anglican beliefs her characters would have held—relying on the sacraments for salvation, for instance. I especially appreciated the detailed historical notes at the end.
John and Hannah were both strong, well-drawn characters with a wealth of strengths and weaknesses. It’s challenging and sobering to realize what people went through for the sake of their consciences—whether persecution from the government or conflict within their own families. Because of that reality, there are some pretty grim scenes that don’t gloss over the price John and others like him paid. At the same time, it’s inspiring to see the strength that came from a hunger for God, and how that hunger drew more and more people away from a state-mandated religion into the search for a personal relationship with God.
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