Friday, June 10, 2011
Saturday Review of Books: Rosslyn Elliott's Fairer than Morning
Expecting a fairly fluffy historical romance, I was pleasantly surprised by a gripping story that wouldn’t let me stop turning pages
Isn't it great when a book totally exceeds your expectations?
When I picked up Rosslyn Elliott's Fairer than Morning, I was expecting a light, enjoyable romance. Having just read a fairly intense Dean Koontz book (What the Night Knows), I needed a change.
What I didn't expect was a solid, engrossing, compelling tale that would scarcely let me put it down (I started it yesterday and finished it tonight!)
Far from a fluffy romance, this novel has a gravitas that caught me pleasantly by surprise. Actually, the "romance" part isn't the main theme.
Instead, we step back in time to 1820's Pittsburgh, when quiet Christians courageously help slaves escape to freedom...when young apprentices could experience real cruelty at the hands of their masters...when the poverty-stricken and downtrodden are forced to live in poor-houses.
The story centers around Ann Miller, the daughter of a man who is a farmer, saddlemaker, and circuit-riding preacher; and Will Hanby, an orphan who eagerly accepts apprenticeship, only to find brutality.
Ann is a likable heroine, accepting her role as substitute mother to two little sisters with maturity and grace, while longing for love and marriage.
But I have to admit I looked forward to Will's scenes. When I read a story in which someone is treated with outrageous cruelty, I'm immediately caught up. Will grabbed my heart. I had to keep turning the pages in the hopes that he would find justice.
I also really liked Ann's father. I loved the way his humble, unassuming life illuminated Christ, with a quiet dignity and sacrificial kindness.
I also liked Rosslyn Elliott's writing style, which seemed perfectly in tune with the era about which she was writing--never a jarring anachronism or out-of-place phrase. Too, she lets her story unfold without any forced drama.
This is, frankly, one of the best books I've read in a while, of any genre. I'm glad it's just the first in a trilogy called "The Saddlemaker's Legacy," because I definitely want to read them all.
An interesting note: The story is based on true events in the lives of the real Will Hanby and Ann Miller--several of the things depicted in the book really happened. The few things that could seem even remotely far-fetched are some of the very things that actually took place.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Wynn-Wynn Media. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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I'm participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books. Click on the icon to find out more!