Monday, February 14, 2011

1650 Bedford, England and Jody Hedlund, author of The Preacher's Bride

A word from Stephanie:
 When I received The Preacher's Bride as a Christmas gift, I had no idea what a wonderful reading experience I was in for. True confession: I'm not really inclined towards the Puritans, and I haven't read Pilgrim's Progress, so I might not have chosen this book without a little nudge.
 I've learned my lesson. Give something new a try ... especially if its about something old :-).

   The Preacher's Bride teaches wonderful biblical truths. In fact, not long ago I read a couple of passages aloud to someone going through a tough time, because those passages encouraged me so very much.

  I loved this book so much that I e-mailed the author to see if she would drop by Footnotes and share her novel inspiration from history. I hope you enjoy what she shares. I know you'll enjoy The Preacher's Bride. --Stephanie
 What artifact, place, historical event, or woman from history made you want to write this book?
When I was reading about John Bunyan (the author of Pilgrim’s Progress), I ran across the story about how his second wife, Elizabeth, bravely defended him in front of a court of judges after he’d been accused of unlicensed preaching.
I loved her courage and determination, and I decided I wanted to tell her story to the world. So much is known about some of the great heroes of the faith, but so little is told of the incredible women who stood by their sides and helped shape them into the men they became.
How much of your book is based on true history and how much did you add?
The Preacher’s Bride is inspired by the relationship of John Bunyan and Elizabeth. In telling the story, I drew from numerous biographies as well as some of the books John wrote (including Pilgrim’s Progress). I developed the story around what we know (the facts), even adding in famous quotes of John Bunyan throughout the book.
Then I filled in the details of what isn’t known about the couple. For Elizabeth, that ended up being quite a bit since not much is written about her. While I had to develop her family and history, I was able to use almost all of the words she spoke at John’s trial at the end of The Preacher’s Bride which showcased her incredible inner strength as well as devotion to John.
What was the most romantic thing you learned about “the real story” while researching this book?
At the end of his life, John Bunyan wrote this in a deed, “The natural affection and love which I have and bear into my well-beloved wife, Elizabeth.” I thought his words were so romantic, especially after years of marriage. It just showed how much they’d grown to love and appreciate each other over the years.
What one non-fiction book helped you research the most (for those who want to learn more)?
While doing research for The Preacher’s Bride, I read an incredibly insightful and well-written book about the Puritans called, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were by Leland Ryken. It provided a treasure chest of information about Puritan life as well as numerous quotes that were inspiring and challenging to my own faith.
One of the things that I found the most fascinating about Puritan life was the emphasis they put on family worship time. This was an integral part of their everyday lives and Fathers took seriously the call to lead their family’s spiritual instruction
What spiritual encouragement did you draw from what you’ve learned?
God wants to use our hardships to develop our holiness. The message developed as I wrote, really piggy-backing off the message of Pilgrim’s Progress—that the hard path leads to holiness. Christian, in Pilgrim’s Progress learned that the easy way is often Satan’s way of tempting us away from what God is calling us to. I wanted to portray that message in the lives of John and Elizabeth too.
Visit author Jody Hedlund at:


  1. This is now one of my favorite books. I loved it from the first page right to the end. I read Pilgrim's Progress years ago too. Great book which I'd highly recommend to anyone.

  2. Hi Jody:

    I know that John Bunyan spent many years in prison. Is he in prison for most of the time your book covers? He lived in some very crazy times. It is said that while he was in prison for preaching without a license, they used to let him out to preach!

    I think it is a wonderful period for a novel. I don’t think I’ve read a historical romance from this time period. Thanks.


  3. Hi Vince,

    Great question!

    Actually, The Preacher's Bride spans the time right before he goes to prison. At the end of the book, I cover his trial and part of his time in jail. But it's only at the very end. The rest of the story is about his blossoming romance with Elizabeth.

    And yes, he was let out of prison from time to time, primarily during the time of the Black Plague that swept through England. And then also shortly after the Great Fire of London. There were probably other times to, because I think the jailer was probably sympathetic to him!

  4. And hi Scrappy quilter! I'm thrilled to hear that you enjoyed The Preacher's Bride!

    Thank you for having me here on your blog today, Stephanie and Nancy! I'm honored to be one of your Bethany House "sisters!" :-)

  5. Our church book store has the Ryken book for sale. Another book to add to my mile-high to be read pile!

    We'll all be looking forward to Jody's next book, which was inspired by Narcissa Whitman.