The Bride is an opportunity to once again jump back into medieval Wales, to discover a little more of the story that was told in the first two books, The Healing and The Pilgrim. This time we learn about the backstory of Efa, the character introduced towards the end of The Healing. It is worth noting though that this book works well as a standalone read, without having to have read the other books (although they are great too!).
Efa is a lovely character – a gentle young woman with so much potential, who at the start of the book is heartbroken, rejected and lonely, given away in a marriage for political reasons.
As she settles in her new home a sense of purpose is rekindled, and through her care for others she enters her own journey of discovery. She rediscovers her role and through it the satisfaction that there is in being loved, firstly by those around her and ultimately finding the deep love of God.
For anyone wanting to know and experience the truly profound love of God, that is freely available, this will be a helpful read. At first Efa struggles to understand it or feel it, but it grows and develops to a point where she knows in her head and her heart how precious and loved she is by God, which then spills out to those around her.
The reader enters into a well-imagined medieval world, with no doubt well-researched details to enhance the story, inspired by the stunning landscape of rural Wales, much of which will be little changed now. This is an uplifting tale, a story of discovering faith and love that, like the landscape, is also as relevant today as it was in the time this story is set.
There is a real peace to be gleaned when you dive into one of Joy’s books. It could be from the change of pace, throwing the reader into an era when life was less hurried and calmer. It could be that Joy’s writing style immerses you into the characters and scenes, easily evoking the feelings, emotions, sights and scents of the times. Or it could be the underlying constant of Christian values that are conveyed as key messages of the books; the kindness, gentleness and love that exude the pages. Likely it is a combination of all of the above that bring such a lovely calmness and peace.
I received a complimentary advance copy of this book from the author, but was under no pressure to provide a favourable review.