Review of Fairer Than Morning
I liked it.
It’s not my normal reading fare, but Fairer Than Morning, by Rosslyn Elliot, is historically based, very interesting, and extremely well-done. It held my interest.
Fairer Than Morning is part of series called The Saddler’s Legacy, and is described on the back cover as "a work of fiction inspired by a real family in American history - the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio."
If you like history, you’ll find it in Fairer Than Morning. If you like romance, you’ll find that, too. And, if you like a story where spiritual themes weave themselves through the plot and the struggles of the leading characters, you certainly won’t be disappointed. Rosslyn has done a marvelous job of integrating the tensions and tragedies of her leading characters with theological perspectives that are both realistic and applicable to our world today. One of the great stories of scripture - God’s concern for the hungry, broken, and abused - overrides her story in a way that is exciting and believable. It is also motivating. About a third of the way through the book I stopped and prayed for the Will Hanby’s of our world today.
Will Hanby. He is my favorite character in Fairer Than Morning. Orphaned at a young age, indentured to a cruel and sadistic master, beaten and starved, Will finds the will, the spirit, to endure against all odds, and find life.
Many Christians picture life as the grand reward God will grant at the end of time. It is that. But it is more, it has to be. What does that picture do for the child that is hungry today, the orphan, the slave, and the homeless who are hungry, cold and destitute right now? To tell them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," somehow falls short of what our spiritual obligation is to them. Fairer Than Morning captures the sense of life being what God wants his children to experience now, in this life: believers who work for justice and oppressed who are set free.
I found it interesting that Will Hanby’s character is based on a real life character who was oppressed, achieved freedom, and enjoyed a full life. I would tell you more, but that would rob you of the joy of experiencing the story for yourself!
I like books that have at least a few one-liners that strike some chord within you, forcing you to stop and reflect upon them. Fairer Than Morning has a number of them. Here are a few that resonated with me:
-- As God took away, he gave, both death and life in blood.
--Who was he, to have asked for an audience with eternity?
-- Seeing the evil in ourselves is the worst trial we ever face.
Rosslyn Elliot brings ample preparation and skill to the craft of writing. She holds a BA in English and Theater Studies and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. But, it is more than skill and training that brings life to her characters and story in Fairer Than Morning: it is a passion to write, to give new life to historical personalities, and to show God’s hand at work in the mundane, even tragic, affairs of life.
In personal correspondence with the author I asked her what she wanted her readers of the book to take away with them, and how we could use that today. She wrote that she wanted us to see how "God can work through anyone the way he worked through the Millers" (a real-life family that rescued Will Hanby and is prominently featured in Fairer Than Morning). She adds, "every single person who gets out of bed and goes out to do battle for good and against destruction and despair" are present day Millers, bringing hope and comfort to the Will Hanby’s of our day.
If you like fiction that combines Christian and historical emphases, read Fairer Than Morning. It is very good.
Note: Rosslyn maintains a personal website at Rosslyn Elliot and blogs at Inkhorn Blue.