The Preacher's Bride is set in England in 1659, a time when Puritans were persecuted for their simple Christian faith. Elizabeth Whitbread is a dutiful Puritan girl who lives out her beliefs in acts of service to others.
When John Costin's wife dies of childbed fever, Elizabeth steps in at risk to herself to try to save the life of the woman's newborn baby. John is one who was called to preach the word of God, no matter the danger involved. He's too absorbed in his grief and his ministry to pay much attention to either the baby or his older children.
There's much church history in this novel--most of which I didn't know. Hedlund does a remarkable job of taking the reader to early England and describing the lives of commoners. I was fascinated by all the details of village life, especially the pecking order from aristocrats to laborers.
Elizabeth and John are caught in the midst of the political upheaval that led Puritans to flee England for America--an event we remember now with our Thanksgiving celebrations.
Hedlund has adapted the life of John Bunyan to tell the story of The Preacher's Bride. Reading about Elizabeth and John gave Pilgrim's Progress a greater impact for me. I recommend this book, but suggest that some of the violent scenes might be too intense for younger readers.