Sweeter Than Birdsong, Saddler's Legacy Series #2Sweeter Than Birdsong, Saddler's Legacy Series #2
Rosslyn Elliott
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When Ben casts lovely Kate Winter to sing in his latest show, they find they share a love for music and ideas. But Kate's mother wants her daughter to marry a rich man. Ben has given his life to God, not to the pursuit of wealth.

Kate Winter will be the first female graduate of Otterbein College, and every young man in town courts her. But Kate's dark family secrets leave her unspeakably shy. When Kate joins the Hanbys in their dangerous work on the Underground Railroad, she finds her courage and her voice. Can Ben and Kate find a way to be together in spite of the obstacle of Kate's family?
     


 

 Sweeter than Birdsong Discussion Questions: by Rosslyn Elliott


 

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 fi nd 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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