Over the last year my husband and I have visited Colonial Williamsburg twice and have attended a Civil War reenactment in Kentucky. This has spurred my interest in reading books set during the turbulent times when wars were fought on American soil, and in learning the personal sides of the struggle. Michael Phillips American Dreams series, of which Dream of Freedom is the first, was the perfect read for me right now. Dream of Freedom introduces us to two 19th century Virginia families of whom Richmond Davidson and Denton Beaumont are the patriarchs. Davidson leads his family based on the Word of God. Beaumont leads his by what he determines as best for himself and the southern party line. Both men have very different feelings and opinions about the value of people of color. While having been childhood friends, their world views lead them in opposite directions as adults. Readers are also introduced to James Watts and his daughter Cherity, both fine human beings with great respect for all people, but who are struggling with their relationship with God.
Phillips is a master story teller, creating well developed characters placed in challenging situations. His writing is obviously thoroughly researched. (I’ve never before read a piece of fiction with such detailed footnotes!) His lead characters, the Davidsons, witness by truly living out their beliefs, seeking God’s wisdom and direction in the day to day decisions as well as the life changing decisions. This is very inspirational for those of us in today’s church culture dominated by programs, which often adds to the stress we already feel by our calendar driven lifestyles.
Phillips is not afraid of tackling tough subjects, not only those unique to the mid-1800s, but those that continue to challenge Christians today: submitting to God’s authority, dealing with prodigal children, maintaining faith while suffering, sacrificing in order to do what is right, realizing that our security lies in God rather than financial security, waiting on God to reveal His will rather than rushing ahead of Him, and demonstrating grace when hurt… He tackles these subjects authentically, and with great wisdom.
I highly recommend Dream of Freedom to all historical fiction fans, to those who are seeking, and to those who want to live out loud their Christian faith. I cannot wait to continue the story of the Davidsons and the Beaumonts in book two of this series, Dream of Life.