Al DeFilippo’s Black Country: What Others are Saying
From the Methodist Community
Dr. Kenneth Kinghorn, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology and Vice President-at-Large, Asbury University: His Comment on Black Country: “This work on “America’s Bishop,” Francis Asbury, is magisterial in scope and detail… This volume is a treasure house of ‘Asburyology.’ ”
His Comment on My Work is Done: The Last Days of Bishop Francis Asbury:
“A splendid piece, Al. Very moving, indeed! I gained information that I did not know, and your writing style is excellent. Thanks, too, for the graphics. I copied the carriage picture, and I’ll add it to a PowerPoint lecture for one of my classes. Again, good work, Al. Many thanks.
I know the author of this book (Al DeFilippo) and know of the tremendous amount of work he has put into writing it. Over the past 20 years, he has painstakingly researched Francis Asbury’s life and the times during which he lived, including the religious turmoil which existed in England when Asbury grew up and preached there. Al has used the knowledge gained from his research to write an excellent account of Asbury’s early years in the historical fiction format.
Black Country covers the years from Asbury’s childhood through his days as a young circuit riding preacher in England, and ends with Asbury embarking on a ship that will take him to the American colonies a few years before the beginning of the American revolution. As Al writes about the preacher’s life, he weaves in plenty of details about England’s religious, political, and industrial history; the sights and sounds of the English towns and countryside; the lay of the land and the plants and animals; and the religious, family, social and work lives of the citizens. I feel that one of the book’s strong points is the dialogue. The language used by the characters–characters who lived in late 18th century England–and the way they express themselves sounds very believable and realistic. Character development is another strength of the book. You get a very clear sense of the type of man that Asbury was. Other characters, including his family, friends, and those he worked with, are also well-developed. The writing has the feel of authenticity. It’s as if Al has been able to step back in time and be there at Asbury’s side. If you have an interest in Asbury’s life or England’s religious history, I believe you will enjoy this book and learn much from it. It should also appeal to readers who enjoy Christian historical fiction.
By CarolynM on June 3, 2015
From the Asbury Triptych Series Website
I received this book as a Christmas present and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The research is intensive and the story line is exciting and compelling. When is “Beggar Bishop” coming out????
By Anita Finley
As an experienced book reviewer, I must confess that it is quite challenging to do a comprehensive review about our “Book of the Month, ”Black Country, from the Asbury Triptych Series.”
Throughout the book, what comes across so well is learning about the culture and people of his time. As a young preacher, he interacted with villagers, farmers and families. Those descriptions made for a very interesting diorama of scenes where people were looking for a new life in America.
The story starts in England in 1745, with Francis Asbury as a blacksmith’s apprentice, forging nails. (Asbury had no formal education.) As it is said, cream always rises to the top, and as it did with Asbury. He decided to become a preacher for a religious movement that eventually worked on the rampant illiteracy and distribution and gin addictions facing the British of the 1700s. Of major importance to Asbury was when he met John and Charles Wesley. The Wesley followers known by the Methodists, began to question religious dogma of that time.
I found that Francis Asbury was a brave and charismatic man and quite intelligent. After spending his youth in England, and with only a few years of preaching, experience and money, he departed for the American colonies in 1771, with his acceptance of the Wesley religious beliefs and dictum. In 1784, Francis Asbury had become the leader of the American version of the Wesley indoctrination and, under his guidance, was the official beginning of the Methodist Church in America.
Monuments have become a lively discussion in the U.S. today, so it is a good time to note that in Washington, DC there is an impressive granite statue of Asbury sitting securely on top of the horse. And there are many more signs that he played a major role in religion in America.
The book is so well developed that it is difficult to decipher what is fact and what is fiction, a skill that an historical novelist attempts to do. This book is worth your time, as you will learn so much about American religious history told in an elegant and fascinating way, with wonderful details that make it all believable.