“Is there no hope, doctor?” Fifteen-year old Philip Anson’s question was spoken in a brave, if not hopeless, tone. He and the doctor stood by his dying mother’s bedside.
The key to this book lies in the doctor’s answer—never stop trusting God. Philip doubts that there is any hope, however, even with God. His point-of-view is only strengthened when he is left a penniless orphan on the dark streets of nineteenth century London.
Like the storm clouds that scuttled over the city, the boy’s outlook becomes increasingly darkened until at last he decides life is no longer worth living. But, like all children, there is a destiny for Philip Anson; a purpose God designed before he was even born. With a dramatic act of heaven, the youth is snatched from the very precipice of pre-mature death. A diamond-filled meteor crashes into the tiny courtyard behind his slum lodgings. Recognizing the heavenly intervention, he is a changed person who lives the rest of his life as a godly, thankful man.
But his rise from pauper to prince is a long and often hard one that is both thrilling and extremely interesting. Our whole family enjoyed listening to the exploits of the fifteen-year old hero and his amazing journey. Though a certain amount of suspended disbelief is needed for this novel, it is saved from utter fantasy by the overt spirituality the author skillfully weaved into the story. He achieved an almost “boys’ Elsie Dinsmore” feel by letting the actions do the preaching.
Due to the time-period (the book was published in 1904) there are some disappointing Jewish slurs, but nothing violent or otherwise extreme. Drinking and smoking are also mentioned but generally in a negative light (remember that Elsie Dinsmore correlation). Probably the most disturbing aspect of the book is the violence in the latter half. The now grown Philip is literally beaten to a near death, stripped and thrown into the sea. (Though even here God’s blessing can be inferred as he is miraculously saved by some fishermen.) In a beautiful twist, both of the criminals are forgiven by Philip and aided by him in starting new lives.
Ultimately, the message introduced at the beginning of the story rings true—hope is not dead. It never can be dead in the life of those who trust God to guide and care for them.