Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier


The Last Runaway 
Tracy Chevalier 
Dutton Adult (2013),  
Hardcover ISBN 0525952993 
320 pages 

Tracy Chevalier is a familiar author to me.  Girl With a Pearl Earring still stands out as one of my favorite historical fiction selections. The Last Runaway takes place prior to the American Civil War in the border state of Ohio. Honor Bright left her homeland of England to travel with her sister Grace to America.  Shortly after their arrival Grace dies leaving Honor in a tenuous position regarding her future. Honor Bright is a Quaker and  holds dear the tenets of her religion. She values honesty and abhors slavery.  She marries Jack Haymaker, a dairy farmer and moves in with him, along with his sister and mother. Honor finds herself in a perfect position to help runaways who travel along the Underground Railroad. The Haymaker family pretend not to notice Honor's small contributions of assistance until one day they forbid her to continue. Honor Bright is forced to make difficult decisions that cause great internal conflict and reflection.

The character of Honor Bright is eerily familiar as if this writer were in her shoes in a previous life. Belle, a milliner is spunky and frank and her friendship with Honor is genuine. More than once she manages to surprise Honor with her prowess with a shotgun.  The importance of quilting and hatting in America, women's roles, Quakers and The Underground Railroad, particularly the ramifications of the Fugitive Slave Act in Ohio provided Chevalier with background to write this beautiful and inspiring novel. An author's note of interest Ms. Chevalier learned to quilt in order to write The Last Runaway.  I’m sure a gratifying p
erk she had not anticipated. 

Disclosure: A copy of this book was received as an ARC from the publisher. This review is my candid and unbiased opinion. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2012].  


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