This book is a fictional story written about true historical events that happened during the Westerville Whiskey Wars in Ohio in the 1870s. Although the characters are fictional, they are based on real people. Lovelier Than Daylight is the third book in the Saddler's Legacy series. It tells the story of Susanna Hanby, a young lady about to begin her first year of college at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. Westerville was as the center of the temperance movement in 1875, and the Hanby family are teetotalers, and staunch opposers of alcohol of any kind. Enter Susanna's love interest, Johann Giere, whose family owns a brewery. Sparks fly between Susanna and Johann because she hates his profession, believing that he and his family are responsible for ruined families with drunken fathers. Susanna is also struggling with a personal battle. Her sister, Rachel, has disappeared. She is running from a drunken husband, and Susanna is worried about her six nieces and nephews, who have been put into orphanages. Johann tries to help her rescue the children, but Susanna cannot bring herself to trust him because of his profession.
This story seemed to drag on and on. I only kept reading it to see what would become of Rachel's children. The Hanby family seemed too sweetly naive. Johann seemed too impossibly perfect. Rachel seemed to be the picture of a wonderful, loving mother, frightened for the lives of her children, but in the end she turned out to be a selfish woman who thought of herself first. I hated the fact that what she did to her children was glossed over and forgotten in the name of "forgiveness." I think that in real life, a marriage like Johann's and Susanna's would be destined for failure.
I struggled a lot with the moral issues of this story. Susanna struggles throughout the book with the fact that Johann's family owns the brewery and drinks lager. Johann argues over and over again that lager is not the same as hard liquor, and is meant to be drunk in fun and fellowship with ones' friends and family. He tries to convince her that most of the time, it isn't even used to get drunk. He tries to prove this to Susanna, but she continues to believe he is wrong, and that alcohol of any kind is wrong. Ms. Elliott portrays the Giere family as good Christian people who attend church. Mr. Giere even states at one point that he prays for his business and trusts God to guide him in it. I was highly disappointed at the end of this book when Aunt Ann convinced Susanna that perhaps lager isn't all bad. I was angry when she pointed out that God provided man with grapes and barley to make beer, so it must be okay. I was mortified when she suggested that Jesus actually drank fermented wine at His last supper.
I do not recommend this book for several reasons. First of all because the story itself is rather dry. It is an unusual plot, and could have been a great story, but I really felt that the author fell flat on it. Second, I cannot recommend any book that goes against what the Bible says about the sin and foolishness of drinking alcohol--no matter what kind it is. I think the author has committed a great injustice by what she has written here. I didn't enjoy this book, and I don't think I will read any more of Ms. Elliott's stories.
Until I Read Happily Again,