Don’t you just love a good feel-good book? I do and Rosslyn Elliott does an outstanding job in her debut fiction novel, Fairer than Morning (Thomas Nelson Publishers, May 2011). It’s the first in The Saddler’s Legacy Series, a trilogy of historical fiction based on the true story of the Hanby family; telling the tale of Will Hanby and Ann Miller.
Fairer Than Morning
The story travels with the characters from Ohio to Pittsburgh and is set in the early 19th Century. We are introduced to Anne Miller, a young woman searching for true love. We meet Eli Bowen, her perfect match and suitor. The story unfolds as Ann travels with her father on business to Pittsburgh and meets Will Hanby.
William Hanby (1808-1880) was born in Pennsylvania, the oldest of five children. His father died when William was young. Soon after his mother “bound” him to a Quaker farmer for six years. He became a saddle maker, but having enough of Jacob Good, his master’s mistreatment of him, William runs away to Ohio after three years.
Meeting William touches Ann’s hear and he changes her life in ways she didn’t expect. She sees human cruelty in hatred and heartache and forges the beauty and triumph of forgiveness and courage that begin to mold her present and lay the path to her future.
This book really touched me. It is a gripping story of courage and the price of freedom as the reader feels the unspeakable cruelties William Hanby suffers. His body is broken, bruised and batter and his spirit a dying flicker. It’s the Miller family who bring new hope and light to William. The path to his freedom is dangerous, however he has much to live for as he rediscovers forgiveness, faith and love.
Elliott does an outstanding job of capturing William’s trial and guiding the reader through his transformation into a courageous man, however, Ann’s character seems to idle and while she progresses, it isn’t the same experience nor as moving as William’s. She however, does an incredible job blending historical fact with fiction and uses excellent imagery.
AT 383 pages, Fairer than Morning is a novel I truly loved. I believe it highlights part of history that are not widely touched on in fictional literature. Perhaps it’s that we prefer to sweep under the rug the part of our history that found apprentices being abused and slavery at its peak. Then again, perhaps it was these heart-breaking circumstances that gave our country’s men and women, the inspiration to progress.
Watch for Rosslyn Elliott’s second book, about Benjamin Hanby, Ann and William’s son, set to be published in February 2012.
About the author: As the child of a career military man, Rosslyn Elliott lived in four states and two foreign countries before she graduated from high school. She attended Yale University, where she earned her BA in English and Theater Studies. After five years working first in corporate New York City, then as a schoolteacher, she entered the Ph.D. program in English at Emory University and finished her dissertation in 2006. Her study of American literature spurred her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. Rosslyn lives with her husband and daughter in the southwestern United States.
Thanks to Amy at Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.
*I received a copy of Fairer Than Morning in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions, where expressed are my own and were in no way influenced by the sponsor. Others experiences may vary.