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The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

The Last Runaway (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Tracy Chevalier

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1,071877,805 (3.83)79
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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"When she saw Donovan, she felt as if she were looking on a distant shore of a place she had once loved but no longer felt such an urgency to get to. Donovan had become like England." - Tracy Chevalier, "The Last Runaway"

A major turning point in the story of Honor Bright, the young Quaker woman at the center of Tracy Chevalier's fine 2013 novel "The Last Runaway," comes very early. Jilted by the man she was pledged to marry, Honor decides to accompany her sister from England to America, where her sister plans to marry a man who has settled in a small frontier town south of Oberlin, Ohio. The year is 1850. But Honor gets seasick as soon as the ship leaves port and stays sick for the entire long voyage, She knows she can never put herself through that ordeal again, meaning she can never return to England.

Before getting to Ohio, however, her sister dies of disease, and Honor is stranded alone in a strange country. She continues her journey to Ohio and to the man who had expected to marry her more outgoing sister. Honor realizes that to survive in this tiny Quaker community, she must soon marry, but she is not drawn to this man, nor he to her. Besides, another woman, his brother's widow, already has her sights on him even before Honor finally arrives.

So many good women seem to be attracted to bad men, and such is the case with Honor. She yearns for Donovan, a tireless pursuer of runaway slaves who follow the Underground Railroad to Oberlin and then to Canada. She detests slavery and, in fact, assists Belle, Donovan's own sister, in aiding runaways, yet she can't stop wondering if she could change Donovan by marrying him. Even after she marries a more suitable Quaker man and has a baby girl, Donovan continues to occupy her thoughts. That is, until she herself becomes "the last runaway."

I love this novel. It may be Chevalier's best book since "Girl with a Pearl Earring." ( )
  hardlyhardy | May 8, 2017 |
Meh! ( )
  sophie.anna | May 3, 2017 |
I enjoyed the way this book was written. The Last Runaway chronicles the life of a Quaker named Honor Bright. She has left England with her sister who is to marry a man in America. Honor has just lost the man she was supposed to marry and feels she needs to make a change. So she decides to go with her sister to America.

The story starts with the voyage over the ocean. Honor writes letters to family and friends. I enjoyed reading the letters because it was like getting a closer glimpse into the Quaker way of life and Honor's past.

I am really glad our book club read this book. This is one I may not have picked up to read otherwise. ( )
  crazy4reading | Mar 15, 2017 |
Reviewed in The first day, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Fall 2013, p.30, Friends Journal, November 2013, p. 26
  BirmFrdsMtg | Feb 5, 2017 |
I always find this author satisfying. She introduces us to different historical settings, so the reader is both informed and entertained.
This time we meet Honor and Grace Bright as they set off on a voyage to the United States from England in the mid 19th century. They are members of the Quaker religion. Grace is joining her fiance and Honor is accompanying her sister after being jilted. When Grace succumbs to yellow fever en route, Honor receives a mixed reception and struggles to feel at ease amongst strangers with whom she finds little common ground. She becomes aware of the underground railway the name for the escape route for the runaway African-American slaves. Part of the Quaker philosophy is that all men are equal and she sets out to assist these persecuted people which brings her into conflict with others in the community.
Another strong element in the story is Honor's skill with needle and thread and the tradition of handmade quilts. This engendered a need in this reader to once again return to a handcraft I haven't done for many years ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 29, 2017 |
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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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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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