Title: A Heart Strangely Warmed
Author: Louise A. Vernon
Major Themes: England, John Wesley, Methodists
Synopsis: Robert Upton travels around England with his father, following John Wesley, and wondering about the mysteries of conversion.
I loved Louise A. Vernon’s books when I was young. They were among the first historical fiction books I read, and I found them quite absorbing. I can’t remember when I first read A Heart Strangely Warmed, but I think it was a bit later than some of the others. It’s interesting to read some of these books again, and see what I think of them now, with a different perspective.
This book tells the story of John Wesley through the eyes of young Robert Upton of London, the son of a junk dealer turned peddler. The day he first met Wesley, he arrived home to find that his mother had just died—and that was the beginning of a series of problems and a time of soul-searching. When Robert’s father arrived home, Robert was startled and horrified to discover that not only had his mother been attending John Wesley’s meetings, his father’s life had also been changed through his contact with the fiery little preacher.
During the next couple of years, Robert and his father followed John Wesley around England, peddling their wares and attending meetings. Robert witnessed the conversion of one person after another. Would it ever happen to him? He could not understand how it worked.
This is a pretty good picture of John Wesley’s life and teachings. A lot of the things Wesley says in conversation or preaching are taken from his writings, and this story makes these teachings easy to understand and remember. On the other hand, I felt like the conversion experiences described were somewhat weak; there was scarcely anything about repentance. If I was to give this book a star rating, I would say four out of five—I like it but don’t love it.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12