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Sweeter than Birdsong

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Description

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.

Reading Guides

Reading Group Guide

  1. 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?
     
  2. 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?
     
  3. 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?
     
  4. 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?
     
  5. How would you describe Kate's relationship with her sister Leah? What gets in the way of their closeness?
     
  6. 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?
     
  7. 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?
     
  8. How does the journey with Nelly and her baby change Kate?
     
  9. 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?
     
  10. 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?
     
  11. 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?
     
  12. What are some of the reasons this novel is titled Sweeter than Birdsong?
     
     

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Sweeter than Birdsong, Rosslyn Elliott

Details

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.

More Information

Length 400 Pages
Series A Saddler's Legacy Novel
Publication Date February 7, 2012
Company
  • Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10 159554786X
ISBN-13 9781595547866
Height 8.3"
Width 5.4"