I enjoy historical fiction most when I learn something new about the time period while at the same time getting pleasure from a good tale. “Fairer Than Morning”, the debut novel from Rosslyn Elliott, fits both these criteria. This novel is based on the true story of Will Hanby and Ann Miller, and is the first in the Saddler’s Legacy series, a reference to the occupation of both Will Hanby and Samuel Miller, Ann’s father.
The story opens in 1823. Samuel is a part-time circuit rider who makes and sells saddles when he’s not preaching. Ann is the oldest of three sisters, taking care of them and their widowed father. Will is an orphan indentured to a cruel master saddler. There are many twists and turns in the plot, starting with the man in the raccoon hat who seems to be following the family from Ohio to Pittsburgh where Samuel travels to make a specially-ordered saddle for a wealthy customer.
Because the book is based on real people, there is a strong sense of history and realism. In the afterword, Elliott explains which information is factual and where she has taken artistic license to make a more compelling story or fill in gaps in known history.
This story inspired me to search online to learn a little more about the Hanby and Miller families. I can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out next year.
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