Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
A Saddler’s Legacy Novel #2
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Pages: 400 Trade Paperback
Date Published: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.
In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.
Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.
A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.
A stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real events—from the author of Fairer than Morning, winner of the 2011 Laurel Award.
The bulk of reviews are in for this new release to a fairly new author and the opinions are high! The cover is the first thing that grips me for this novel as it tells so much a story on it’s own. Interestingly the heroine in this novel has a different personality than I find myself used to in reading Christian Historical settings, but it’s intriguing. Part of it is odd to me, because by the descriptions it seems as if she has always had the anxiety disorder, but is only recently trying to overcome it but… for her to have gotten to her current age and progressed as far as she has at the college wouldn’t she have had to overcome some of her shyness and anxiety before hand? That just threw me a bit – however her reasons for being so are definitely one that would affect a person’s personality!
Throughout every page I can tell that this one is well researched. The descriptions really allow your imagination to fly back in time. All the characters and their issues are real and rough and show through to a reality once known and in someways still there. This is a great release for a February!
*Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity Group for providing an ARC for review.*
Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated so often that she attended nine schools before her high school graduation. With the help of excellent teachers, she qualified to attend Yale University, where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a schoolteacher before returning to study at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and teaches in children’s ministry.
|Books by Author|
Fairer than Morning
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor,…
In this second in the award-winning Saddler’s Legacy series, Rosslyn Elliott has written a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events. With Ben Hanby, a genius composer, Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in America, and John Parker, an ex-slave who risked his life time and again to help fugitive slaves, Sweeter than Birdsong is full of real heroes to inspire us. “I hope readers will find a renewed sense of strength in their own lives,” says Elliott, “knowing that change is possible, and our efforts matter. I want them to remember these unique, brave people in history who left us a shining example of what it means to live out one’s beliefs with passion and commitment.”
So to celebrate the music in all of us, Rosslyn and Thomas Nelson are hosting this “sweet giveaway”.
One fortunate winner will receive:
- A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner’s choice of color!)
- Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
- Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She’ll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, season 1 of DowntownAbbey, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)
So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.
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Reading Group Guide
Why do you think Kate is so fearful about speaking in public? Is it her temperament or her personal history? Have you ever known someone who had this phobia? What effect did it have on that person?
Even though Kate suffers from great social anxiety, she is completely comfortable with her horse and willing to perform feats on horseback that others consider physically daring. Most people have similar odd mixes of courage and fearfulness, but we never learn those secrets about them. Is there an area in which you are courageous or fearful that might surprise those who know you?
How might Kate’s married life look if she married Frederick Jones? What does he seem to expect from her, and how does it differ from Ben’s attitude toward her?
Why is Ben so driven to find Nelly and liberate her? How does such a strong passion for a good work help a person? How can it cause problems or mistakes?
How would you describe Kate’s relationship with her sister Leah? What gets in the way of their closeness?
The circus performers include women who vault and do tricks on horseback in knee-length tutus. How did this violate social custom of the time? Why might it have appealed to Kate even as it shocked her? How might others in the audience have perceived those women in positive or negative ways? How do you think you would have reacted to them if you had lived in the 1850s?
John Parker was a real African-American hero who worked on the Underground Railroad in Ripley. What would it have been like for a black man to own a foundry right across the Ohio River from a slave state and even employ white men? What everyday challenges might John face, and what personal qualities would he need?
How does the journey with Nelly and her baby change Kate?
Why is Ben tempted to take the law clerkship? Is the advice his father gives him correct, and is Will Hanby wise to give his adult son such firm direction and principles? Under those circumstances, would you advise your adult son of the right path, or keep silent? Do you think you would listen, if you were the adult son or daughter in Ben’s position?
Why does Ben think “Darling Nelly Gray” has failed when he passes through the music store and the inn in Pittsburgh on his way to Philadelphia? Why does this failure affect him so deeply? How does the end of the novel affect your perspective on this moment in Pittsburgh?
In the historical afterword, we learn what happened to the real Ben Hanby and Kate Winter after their marriage. Despite the unexpected events of their life together, do you think the real Kate Winter was glad she married Ben Hanby? If you were Kate, would you think it was all worth the pain and sacrifices?
What are some of the reasons this novel is titled Sweeter than Birdsong?