Over to you, Rosslyn:~
Ann Miller is eighteen years old but knows more than her share of adult sorrows. Years ago, her mother died, and Ann had to grow up quickly in order to take care of her two younger sisters. She is very pretty, with wavy chestnut-brown hair. Her brown eyes have the wistful look of a girl who has lost something, and doesn’t know quite where to find it again. She is petite and dainty, but years of farm work have made her strong for her size. Her intelligence makes her a perfect fit to be played by equally bright actress Natalie Portman.
Will Hanby looks like he has seen his share of fights. Years of apprenticeship to a brutal master have beaten him down and starved him to skin and bones, but over the course of the novel he recovers and fills out to a broad-shouldered, healthy frame for an eighteen-year-old young man. He has dark brown hair, wild and unkempt at first, but he cleans up like a gentleman in frock coat and silk hat. His eyes are a deep, clear brown. Imagine Casey Affleck, but with dark eyes.
Strengths and weaknesses
Ann has an unusually compassionate nature. When she sees someone else in pain, she feels it deeply and wants to help. She is also mature for her age in most ways, and determined to be a good mother figure for her sisters. She would give up her own chance at happiness for their wellbeing. Her weakness is that she thinks romantic love is a wonderful fairy tale that will solve all her problems. She has to learn that the superficial appeal of flowers and poetry is very different from a real, deep love based on common values and goals.
Will’s character is as strong as steel under his shabby exterior, and, like steel, he goes through a fiery ordeal to be tempered. His natural bent toward goodness and mercy survives even his horrible years under a master who wants to degrade him. If Will gains confidence instead of doubting himself, he has the potential to become an extraordinary servant-leader and champion of the oppressed. He underestimates himself, but his time of bondage gives him a passion for liberty and a faith that can overcome any trial.
Your inspiration for the characters
Ann Miller and Will Hanby were real people who lived in central Ohio in the nineteenth century. The dramatic story in Fairer than Morning is based in fact, with only a few changes to make the story flow smoothly and give it unity. From the moment I walked into the Hanby House museum in Westerville, Ohio, I knew I had to tell the Hanby family story, so others could be inspired by their example of love and courage.
Background to the story
Ann Miller dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.
On a small farm in 19th century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.
When Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her minister father on business, she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. Anne’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Anne’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage even in the midst of tremendous adversity.
When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?
Thanks Rosslyn ~ it is lovely having you visit! I hope we see you back here again soon with many more books to come