Cover image for The last runaway
Title:
The last runaway
ISBN:
9781410454959
Edition:
Large print edition.
Publication Information:
Waterville, Maine : Wheeler Publishing, 2013.
Physical Description:
447 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.
Local Subject:
Summary:
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.
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Summary

Summary

A New York Times Bestselling Author -- Tracy Chevalier makes her first fictional foray into the American past, bringing to life the Underground Railroad and illuminating the principles, passions and realities that fueled this extraordinary freedom movement.Honor Bright is a modest English Quaker who moves from England to Ohio in 1850, forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape. Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance.


Author Notes

Tracy Chevalier was born on October 19, 1962 in Washington, D.C. After receiving a B.A. in English from Oberlin College, she moved to England in 1984 where she worked several years as a reference book editor. Leaving her job in 1993, she began a year-long M.A in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

She is the author of several novels including The Virgin Blue, Burning Bright, Remarkable Creatures, and The Last Runaway. Her novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chevalier's (Girl with a Pearl Earring) haunting seventh novel delves into the difference between a theory of belief and its practice. When young Quaker Honor Bright's fiance breaks off the relationship to marry outside the faith, Honor goes to America in 1850 with her sister, Grace. Grace is engaged to marry Adam Cox, a young man from their hometown who followed his brother to Faithwell, Ohio. Unfortunately, Grace dies en route, and Honor arrives in Ohio to find Adam sharing a house with Abigail, his sister-in-law, made a widow by the death of Adam's brother. Honor moves into the house, but feels tense and unwelcome. In Belle Mills, a milliner who appreciates Honor's sewing skills, Honor finds a friend and ally. Honor also draws the attention of Belle's brother, Donovan, a slave hunter, and Jack Haymaker, a local farmer, a man "like a pulled muscle that Honor sensed every time she moved." They marry and Honor, drawn by her sympathies into helping the Underground Railroad, is forced to choose between living her beliefs and merely speaking them. The birth of her own child raises the stakes, and she takes a unique stand in her untenable situation. Honor's aching loneliness, overwhelming kindness, and stubborn convictions are beautifully rendered, as are the complexities of all the supporting characters and the vastness of the harsh landscape. Honor's quiet determination provides a stark contrast to the roiling emotions of the slave issue, the abolitionist fight, and the often personal consequences. Chevalier's thought-provoking, lyrical novel doesn't allow any of her characters an easy way out. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Guardian Review

Jilted and broken-hearted, Honor Bright has rashly decided to accompany her sister Grace from Dorset to pre-civil war Ohio. After Grace dies of yellow fever on the journey, Honor lodges with the ailing and hard-drinking Belle Mills, a tough but kindly woman who is heavily involved with the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and food depots that helps runaway slaves make their way to Canada and freedom. From here, Honor moves on to live in a Quaker settlement where a huge moral dilemma arises when she herself becomes involved with the Underground Railroad. In helping slaves, Honor puts her law-abiding new family at risk, and the problem is compounded by the fact that Belle Mills's disreputable brother Donovan has taken a fancy to her. The Last Runaway is an entertaining read, and as a period piece on Ohio life in the 1850s it is admirable but, despite some moving encounters, the themes of slavery and resistance are less developed than the Quakers and quilting angles, and Chevalier has written far better books. - Carol Birch Jilted and broken-hearted, Honor Bright has rashly decided to accompany her sister Grace from Dorset to pre-civil war Ohio. - Carol Birch.


Booklist Review

Honor Bright sailed from England to America in 1850 with her sister, Grace, who is betrothed to a fellow Quaker in Ohio. After Grace's death, Honor is left in the awkward position of an outsider, searching for her place in an unsettled land of restless change where even the Quakers are different from those she had known at home. She finds solace in writing letters to friends and family in England and in the exquisite quilting skills that tie her to her old life and offer some hope of ties to a new one. Honor's only true American friend is Belle, the unorthodox milliner who clandestinely aids runaway slaves, even as her rough and charismatic brother, Donovan, hunts them down. Horrified by the realities of slavery, Honor faces the new complexities of the Fugitive Slave Law and the challenges it poses for the Quakers and for her personally. Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring, 2000) offers a cast of strong characters wrestling with thorny personalities, the harsh realities of the frontier, and the legal and moral complexities of American slavery.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

Quakers are often lauded as essential actors in the pre-Civil War drama of the Underground Railroad, but not every Friend eagerly harbored escaping slaves. Such is the dismaying discovery of Honor Bright, a principled English Quaker recently arrived in Ohio, after her new American family admonishes her not to aid the covert network. Honor ignores the warnings and becomes' enmeshed in the conflicting agendas of a scurrilous slave hunter with disconcerting sex appeal and his salty Railroad-running sister. Chevalier, the author of "Girl With a Pearl Earring," succumbs to the potboiler temptations of historical fiction as familiar supporting characters muscle their way toward a baldly formulaic denouement. Yet her unfussy narrative voice is well suited to her protagonist's Quaker milieu. Her book is as much about the primacy of quilting in the early American social order as it is about the perils of abetting slaves. An American living in London, she also has a personal line into Honor's wonder at her new surroundings. "The potatoes are larger, with more eyes," Honor writes home, a simple observation that sweetly encapsulates the weirdness of displacement.


Library Journal Review

Quiet, home-loving, and principled Honor Bright agrees to accompany her more adventurous sister across the Atlantic to 1850's Ohio, to where Grace's fiance has immigrated. The journey is miserable physically and confusing culturally, and when Honor finally arrives at their destination, she is sick at heart as well. Forced to make choices for which she is unprepared and to face challenges to her lifelong belief in the innate equality of all races, Honor matures into a strong woman worthy of respect. Kate Reading narrates the book beautifully, perfectly portraying the timid English girl making mistakes and learning from them. Reading's voice becomes rougher with the American pioneers-louder and harsher for the exacting Judith Haymaker, more relaxed and higher pitched for Belle, the whiskey-drinking milliner. Verdict This is a recording listeners will not want to end. Highly recommended. ["Chevalier's (The Girl with the Pearl Earring; Remarkable Creatures) writing continues to have that can't-put-it-down quality, and her change in settings from Europe to 19th-century frontier America is a welcome one. Highly recommended," read the starred review of the New York Times best-selling Dutton hc, LJ 12/12.-Ed.]-Juleigh Muirhead Clark, Colonial Williamsburg Fdn. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.