Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When you have suffered great loss in your life, it is believed that you have a heightened sense of compassion to others around you going through great suffering themselves, and you are drawn to them to help somehow. Both of the main characters in Rosslyn Elliott's novel Fairer than Morning have been through much suffering in their lives. Ann Miller is the daughter of a master Saddler who lost his wife and Ann’s mother in childbirth when Ann was just a girl. Ann then needed to step up and be both sister and mother to her two younger sisters. This proves to be a central point in the novel as she wrestles with continuing in this role to her sisters versus moving forward with her romantic life and the turmoil inside of her as to which life to choose. Will Hanby is a young man whose young life has endured much suffering as well. When Will was just a boy himself, he lost both parents to consumption and he and his brother were sent to different farms to be kept from infection. The story picks up as Will is literally signing his life away to a 5 year term as basically an indentured servant where he will be an “apprentice” to his Master Jacob Good. Unfortunately his last name is a misnomer as Master Jacob Good is the furthest thing from a Good master as possible. I did find myself, at the height of Will’s abuse by his master, in tears as I was reading (which unfortunately was a bit inconvenient because I was in a public place when I was reading that part!)
These two character’s don’t immediately cross paths in the story, but eventually their paths do meet and Ann finds herself drawn to him with feelings of immense compassion as she sees how Will is so mistreated by his master. There are quite a few obstacles for these two on their journey- lies told, poor choices made, and throw in a few more interested suitors for Ann, just to keep you guessing whether they will wind up together or not. I’ll let you read the book to find out.
I found it very interesting to find that this was truly a “historical fiction” book as the names used were mostly all real people and many of the situations described were based on public record. I found that I really did care about the characters and the journey that Rosslyn Elliot took them on. There were a number of truly heartbreaking scenes particularly involving one married couple who were slaves trying to escape barbaric conditions by tyrant slave-owners. The author did a good job at helping you to connect with the characters and their various struggles along the way. I did however feel that some of the writing was a bit choppy, as it felt to me a few times like a chapter would just end in the middle of a conversation and boom you were on to a different setting. That made me turn the pages back to see what I missed and I hadn’t missed anything. Anyway, other than that detail, I did enjoy the story and the characters and will look for this author in the future.
Rating- 3.5 stars
Disclosure: Note this book was graciously provided for me by the publishing company in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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