In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter's dreams are almost within reach. When she becomes the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she will be able to finally leave and escape the dark secrets that haunt her family. However, with her mother scheming to have her marry a wealthy man, Kate has to face reality. She has to run before she is trapped forever. She decides to join the upcoming musical at the college, despite her incredible shyness, and use the opportunity to mask her flight.
Ben Hanby, Otterbein College's musical genius, sees Kate Winter as one notable for her beauty, yet overcome by her shyness. However, when he hears her sing, her voice moves him like nothing else. He decides to cast Kate in his musical and discover the mysteries that surround her. Still, he has to keep his own secrets to himself. Not even the beautiful woman can know about his work with the Underground Railroad, aiding fugitives to escape into Canada.
However, a terrifying accident soon brings Ben and Kate together, and threatens to shatter their secrets and 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.
Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott is an incredible second installation in the Saddler's Legacy Series. This series is loosely based on the incredible Hanby family who lived and worked around the time of the Civil War. Sweeter than Birdsong focuses on Ben Hanby, a wonderfully gifted young man who also has a heart for the slaves and fugitives in the South.
This novel was written extremely well, with beautiful descriptions and well researched mannerisms of the pre-Civil War era. The plot line flowed smoothly, with some suspense and mystery as well as times of romance. The tone of the novel was also varied and reflected the changes in the plot. There were occurrences in the novel where I was brought to tears -both happy and sad - and other times where I had no choice but to laugh. The main characters in Sweeter Than Birdsong, Kate Winter and Ben Hanby, were well developed and very relatable. Kate's progression in faith and her determination to overcome her extreme shyness as her opinions about life were developed was clearly shown throughout the novel and made the reader love Kate and relate with her even more. Ben Hanby's struggles with his feelings, his beliefs, and his determination to rescue slaves from bondage were clearly visible during the book. His growth through these struggles only increased my admiration of him and his character.
Overall, Sweeter than Birdsong was a truly wonderful novel that I enjoyed immensely. The book was made even better more me knowing that it was based on a true story. I highly recommend Sweeter Than Birdsong, and its prequel, Fairer Than Morning. If you do pick up Sweeter Than Birdsong, make sure you read the Afterword once you finish the book, for it relates the true story of Ben Hanby and Kate Winter, which was truly interesting. I cannot wait to more of Rosslyn Elliott's works.
I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.