This news is a little "un-new," but several sources are reporting that Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) has joined the cast of The Homesman. Steinfeld is set to play Tabitha Hutchinson in the film. I began reading the novel two days ago and I'm up to the point where Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) has agreed to serve as the homesman for escorting the "crazy" women across the frontier. So many sources I've read indicate that the number of crazies is three, but at least where I am in the book, there's every indication that there are indeed four. The actual trip has yet to begin however, so I suppose it's possible the number drops to three at some point.
Meryl's character is mentioned in the first thirty pages of the book. Altha Carter runs the Ladies Aid Society of the Methodist Church in Hebron, Iowa, the destination site of the expected five week expedition. She's described as a "sterling woman." It'll be fun to get near the end of the book when we finally meet Altha and imagine Meryl in the role. It will also be interesting to see who rounds out the group of insane women. As of now IMDb has only listed two of the four:
Grace Gummer as "Arabella Sours"
Sonja Richter as "Gro Svendson"
We've yet to learn who will portray Hedda Petzke and Theoline "Line" Belknap. Theoline is the main "touched" woman portrayed at the beginning of the book and from what I've read thus far, it could be an interesting role to play. This is assuming they've not written her out of the screenplay. I imagine not. I'll be sure to post another plot-spoiling update when I'm further along.