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The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

The Last Runaway (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Tracy Chevalier

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898739,830 (3.82)52
Title:The Last Runaway
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:Dutton Adult (2013), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 2012, Ohio, historical fiction, quilting, immigration, 1850, Quaker, Underground Railroad, Goodreads giveaway

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The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (2013)



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4 ★

This 1850's drama is set in the vicinity of Oberlin, Ohio (a major stop on the underground railroad)
As a period piece on Ohio life in the 1850s , the author's research is extensive.

tchevalier.com provides additional research to enhance your reading experience.


"the quakers have no formal creed
their unity is based on shared understanding of the "Inner Light" in each person and a shared practice of silent worship" (T Chevalier)

Honor Bright, an English Quaker, has decided to accompany her sister Grace, who is off to marry her fiance in America.
Sister Grace dies of yellow fever on the journey and Honor continues to Ohio.
First lodging is in Belle Mill's milliner's shop.
Belle provides a safe house and food depot in the Underground Railroad system
Her brother, by sharp contrast, is a slave catcher.

We follow the life of Honor Bright later Haymaker and the moral dilemmas she experiences.
Honor becomes involved with the Underground Railroad.
"The Fugitive Slave Act has been passed: it is illegal to assist a runaway slave, and there are heavy penalties.
The Quakers believe in equality but also want to abide by the law. "

I have provided a very simplistic look at the novel.
In reading it, you'll find a multitude of domestic details and a broader look at the realities of the Underground Railroad. ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 2, 2016 |
Honor Bright, an English Quaker, travels to America with her sister, who is to marry a storekeeper in Ohio. Shortly, after landing in Philadelphia, her sister becomes ill and dies. Although her sister’s fiancé offers her shelter along with his brother’s widow, she finds the arrangement uncomfortable and marries Jack Haymaker, a neighbor who owns a farm where his mother and sister also live. Soon she finds herself drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves to escape to freedom in mid-19th century America. The Haymakers, previously losing their farm in the South for helping a slave to escape are now afraid to become involved and forbid Honor in continuing these activities. She now finds herself caught between honoring her family wishes and following her heart for this ministry.

Always a fan of Tracy Chevalier’s historical fiction, this one does not disappoint. Most of her novels involve ordinary women interacting with historical figures such as William Blake, Vermeer, or Mary Anning. In this particular novel, which is the first to be set in America, the protagonist and novel includes no notables with the exception of all those unknowns who risked their lives and property assisting runaway slaves out of bondage. As always, the novel is well researched regarding pre-Civil War Ohio and others subjects such as the Society of Friends, Underground Railroad, and quilt making. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 19, 2016 |
I enjoyed the historical details of life "on the frontier" and about Quakers' beliefs and lifestyle. The book was pleasant and interesting but not terribly engaging. I cared about the characters but wasn't overly drawn in. ( )
  becka11y2 | Jan 19, 2016 |
Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is compelled to join the Underground Railroad network to help runaway slaves escape to freedom.
  DevizesQuakers | Dec 3, 2015 |
Tracy Chevalier is so skilled at getting under the skin of the protagonist in a specific period whether it's a 19th century fossil collector or a 15th century Belgian weaver, you always believe her.
Honor Bright is a real person from page 1 of ‘The Last Runaway’ and you are rooting for her. The book tackles a difficult subject: the rights and wrongs of helping escaping slaves, and the moral issue this poses for Ohio’s Quakers. Honor struggles to understand this sometimes frightening new country with its huge skies and geometrical roads, forthright people and different social rules. Even the air seems strange. “I feel when I am in it as if the air around me has shifted and is not the same air I breathed and moved in back in England, but is some other substance,” she writes to her parents.
Chevalier does her research thoroughly, but feels no need to wave the depth of her research in her reader’s face. Instead it informs every simple description. Woven throughout the book is Honor’s sewing of quilts. Even this is different in Ohio where Honor’s calm nature and precise sewing is admired by the local hat-wearing ladies, but her needle workmanship is deemed overly exact for the local Quaker ladies who prefer to quickly sew appliqué quilts rather than take time to plan traditional patchwork designs.
Strong women play a key role in the book. Honor is a strong character, though perhaps she does not know it. Belle Mills, the local milliner is strong too. Honor describes Belle, “If women were meant to look like doves these days, Belle resembled a buzzard.” The quilt Honor most admires is owned and made by Mrs Reed, a small black woman who decorates her hat with fresh wildflowers.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Nov 13, 2015 |
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This book is dedicated to Catoctin Quaker Camp and Oberlin College: two places that shaped and guided my younger self
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She could not go back.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525952993, Hardcover)

New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier makes her first fictional foray into the American past in The Last Runaway, bringing to life the Underground Railroad and illuminating the principles, passions and realities that fueled this extraordinary freedom movement.

In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.

Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.

However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.

A powerful journey brimming with color and drama, The Last Runaway is Tracy Chevalier’s vivid engagement with an iconic part of American history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:09 -0400)

Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is compelled to join the Underground Railroad network to help runaway slaves escape to freedom.… (more)

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