Redeeming Love was written by Francine Rivers and published in 1991; it has sold over a million copies worldwide. This book is like, THE book that every high school, Christian-youth group girl read and loved.
Set in the 1800s, Redeeming Love is the story of Sarah and Michael Hosea. Sarah is raised by her mother, Mae, in a little cottage which her father rarely visits. You see, Sarah’s father is married to a nice, respectable lady in town and only sees Mae…when it pleases him. Mae is “kept” by Sarah’s father but he does not love her as she loves him, she is the other woman. Even worse, he doesn’t want anything to do with her child when he has plenty of legitimate children with his wife. As a small girl, Sarah overhears her father tell Mae that Sarah should never have been born. Mae loves Sarah immensely, she is truly the best mother that she can be to her. But. Mae’s love for Sarah’s father is all-consuming and when he spurns her and her daughter, she cannot cope. Mae and Sarah are turned out on the street. With no home and no family to help her, Mae sets her and Sarah up in a shack by the docks; a shack that is frequented by men who pay to spend time alone with Mae. Mae’s turn to prostitution is sad and prophetic. Not long after moving to the docks, Mae is sick with fever and she dies. At eight years old, with no one to fight for her, Sarah is sold into prostitution where she is known as Angel from then on.
Angel spends most of her life under the thumb of the sinister and just, ughh awful, Duke. Duke takes Angel as a child, uses her horrifically and then sells her out to the highest bidder. Angel escapes Duke to California but she isn’t free. Ironically, she becomes the most sought after prostitute at the Duchess’ brothel in San Francisco. Angel hates her life. She feels guilt and shame cover everything she is and has ever done. She feels guilty even of being born and so believes that everything that came after in her life is her fault. She has no sense that she is the victim. Angel likes solitude and on the rare occasion that she gets it, she takes long walks around San Francisco with only Magowan, the Duchess’ body guard, to accompany her. On a day that Michael Hosea comes to town, he happens to see Angel walking with Magowan. She is beautiful, to be sure, but he is drawn to her quiet dignity and cold aloofness. Michael has been praying for a woman that he can share his life with and wouldn’t ya know it, as Angel walks by Michael hears the voice of God telling him that he is to marry her. He is to go to Angel and offer her another life. Michael knows this sounds a little bit crazy – he is a farmer, a devout Christian, what does he know about brothels and prostitutes?
At this same time, life has become unbearable for Angel so when Michael Hosea shows up at her room, having paid the Madame simply to talk to her, she can’t even. Who is this guy coming in here telling her he loves her and wants to marry her? In her line of work, she has heard it all before. The thing about Michael though is that he never touches her. She knows that he desires her and yet he is in control of that desire, unlike all the other men who come to see her. He is steadfast, trying to convince her that he is sincere. Angel has only ever known men to use her for their own means, she cannot fathom that a man would simply love her. Girlfriend is also REAL angry and bitter at men just as a general population. Not that I blame her. So, hope is too much but she begins to feel a flicker every time she sees Michael and she hates it. She would rather die than feel anything at all, so she makes up her mind to offend the Madame, knowing that Magowan will take care of her and boy does he. He beats her to within inches of death before Michael barges in to save her. Michael marries her while she is semi-unconscious (which seems a little iffy to me but needs must, I guess?) and takes her to his farm.
Once Angel is recovered enough, she is pissed that Michael has married her and brought her to his farm. Michael truly loves her but she cannot see it. Love is poison and she wants no part of it. She is angry and mean to Michael, tempting him with her body when all he wants is to care for her as a person (I mean, he obviously wants her body too but he won’t use her). Angel can’t understand it. She is cold and unfeeling because to feel would be to open herself up to a lifetime that she would rather forget. Michael is patient and gentle, constantly showing her love and tenderness as he works to break down her walls, which he does. And you guys, it is so beautiful. I mean, I’m a girl and a sucker for romance, so to watch a man love someone so dearly, eesh, it’s good stuff.
But of course, Angel can’t be happy. She believes that her life is set; she was a prostitute and she can never be good enough for Michael. She believes she will only ever bring him pain, and so she leaves him. Several times. And he is patient and brings her back with unconditional forgiveness. When Angel finally admits to herself that she loves Michael, she resolves to leave him for good because she believes that that is what is best for Michael – she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for what she believes is his well-being. And she stays away for three years. Michael doesn’t go after her this time because he knows that she loves him and he also knows that they only way they can be together, is if she finally comes home on her own. Angel returns to Michael, and when she does she gives him the one thing that she has never given anyone before, her name.
I really loved this book. There is a lot that is pretty dark and disturbing but in the end it is so sweet and tender. I just love a happy ending! So, Redeeming Love is actually a re-telling of the Book of Hosea so there are definitely strong Christian elements, but I think its a love story that anyone would enjoy. The writing, at some points, was a little too repetitive and the author often just told us how the characters felt rather than letting it come through the writing and situations. Even so, I would definitely read this one again.