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The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
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The Last Runaway (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Tracy Chevalier

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7456312,495 (3.84)48
Member:jo2son
Title:The Last Runaway
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:Dutton Adult (2013), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Chevalier knows how to weave history and story so well. Her main character Honor Bright has such strength and will. And what a name! It certainly suits her. The scenes are so vivid that I lost myself in the story. For fans of Girl with a Pearl Earring you will not be disappointed! ( )
  elizabeth.b.bevins | Nov 4, 2014 |
Tale of English girl Honor, raised as Quaker, who find herself trying to carry on her beliefs in America. Describes her interrelationships with some of the people involved with the underground railroad. Not as good as some of the other books by this author. ( )
  Pmaurer | Oct 30, 2014 |
This book was chosen by my Library Book Club for September 2014. I had previously read and enjoyed Chavalier’s Girl With a Pearl Earring but nothing else so I was glad to expand my knowledge of her repertoire.
Honor Bright (wouldn’t a girl born in England have her name spelled Honour?) is a Quaker from Bridport England. When her fiancé broke off their engagement so he could marry someone else Honor decided to emigrate to the US with her sister Grace. Grace was going to marry Adam Cox, another Quaker from Bridport, who had joined his brother in Ohio to run a dry goods shop in Oberlin. Honor found the sea crossing almost unendurable although the ship’s captain said it was the smoothest sailing he had ever had. Honor knew that she would never be able to return to England because she wouldn’t survive another ocean voyage. Thus her fate was sealed in America and even when Grace died of yellow fever before reaching her fiancé Honor had to continue on. She relies on strangers to continue her journey which brings her into contact with the Underground Railway. As a Quaker Honor is opposed to slavery so she supports their work. She learns that American Quakers have somewhat tempered their opposition to slavery because it is believed that emancipation would ruin the economy.
Honor runs into even more opposition to her aid to runaways when she marries Jack Haymaker. Jack lives with his mother and sister and runs a dairy farm. They had left Kentucky to come to Ohio because of Kentucky’s support of slavery ten years previously. But they are worried they would lose their farm if they supported runaways and so Honor is forbidden to help them. This causes tension between Honor and her husband.
Among the interesting characters that Honor meets are Belle Mills and her half-brother Donovan. Belle is a milliner and a member of the Underground Railway. Donovan hunts runaway slaves. I especially liked Belle who seems highly practical but then makes her living by providing frivolous things like new hats and bonnets.
Quilting is the backbone of this book. Honor is a superb needlewoman and she loves piecing quilts. When she marries her future mother-in-law requires that she provide a dozen quilts. Honor only brought one quilt with her so she borrows 3 quilts that her sister-in-law had made. These quilts are appliqué, not pieced, which Honor doesn’t like as well. She must replace these quilts as soon as possible so that occupies her during the harsh winter. It seems that women never are at leisure; even sitting after supper they have some needlework in their hands.
I thought this book was well-written and I would read more of Tracy Chevalier’s books. ( )
  gypsysmom | Sep 3, 2014 |
Author, Tracey Chevalier, has a gift with words. With her most recent book, her writing transports the reader back in time, providing the overwhelming feeling of being present in 1850s America and encouraging the reader's observation of the intricacies of human engagement. She captures the arcane language of 19th century Quaker Friends' conversation which by then, had already become passé. The story begs the question, "Can someone so deeply principled, exist and stick to their principles in an ever-changing society?" "Is it ever okay to look the other way in order to survive and will that forever damn your soul?" A definite, "must read" for fans of historic fiction through a woman's eyes.

Synopsis:
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. ( )
  KateBaxter | Aug 31, 2014 |
The story weaves a captivating saga of the Underground Railroad and draws us into its clandestine activities. The tale centers on Honor Bright, an English Quaker who immigrates to Ohio in 1850. Strange enough, this page turner that includes millinery, quilting and the Quaker life is a powerful and thought provoking journey that brims with color and drama. For some it may take a while to get into but it is well worth it.

I felt soon transported into the past with remarkable realism, into the rugged and lack- lustre world of Ohio and into the delicate realities of a woman’s life at that time. While trying to set roots with the Quakers, Honor’s new home is directly in the path of the Underground Railroad. At the time, Laws in America still upheld slavery. For Honor slavery was wrong and despite warnings she never stopped helping runaway slaves onto their next destination. The story is told through the hopeful eyes of Honor as she is challenged daily and how she exhibits bravery, independence and shows a defiant spirit.

The author expertly weaves vivid historical details into this gripping storyline. Her characters are very interesting and will remind you of those characters from the old western shows we loved years ago: beautifully depicted as rough and wholesome. The women are the strong characters in contrast to the men who are a bit low keyed, except for Donovan, the slave hunter, he is quite a mix of hot and cold….(I let you figure that one out). If you love quilting the authors offers plenty of opportunity to learn….this bit is rather repetitive throughout. Mr. Chevalier has added a nice touch and an insight into her protagonist soul through a series of letters she writes to her friends and family. I found this quite touching and emotional. It has been too long since I read an author who shines by turning scenes of ordinary life into exquisite and colourful portraits……Ms. Chevalier is a captivating storyteller.

This was an absorbing, easy and quick read I enjoyed immensely. ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Jul 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:51 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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