New York Times best-selling 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 best-selling 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.
©2013 Tracy Chevalier (P)2013 Penguin Audio
I was engaged by the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman from England in the 1850s who hastily decided to accompany her sister who was traveling to the US to be married. We learn that Honor's engagement had been broken in a difficult way (in her faith).
This is not the type of book I would usually read - historical with a promise of romance, but I was intrigued by Honor and the unexpected troubles and difficult decisions she made after her sister died before reaching her fiancé.
Themes of personal faith, community, slavery, individuality drew me in, and I cared for a few of the characters and how they would find their place and peace among it all.
It may be that some would see Honor as a simple (in spirit and life) woman, but I believed she was a strong woman who was guided by her moral and spiritual beliefs, even when it set her apart from "the plain folk". I admired her tremendously and believed her to be stronger than most in the community did.
It was a pleasant, easy read, and I did find it thought provoking as I considered what I would do in her situation.
I was very disappointed in the narration though. It was quite inconsistent with the narrator not always using the same "voice" for the same characters. She also had a distracting habit of pausing in a peculiar pattern. It took about 3 hours for me to finally decide I'd keep listening because I was enjoying the story, and therefore I needed to try to just accept the narration as was.
If you enjoy endless descriptions of quilts and detailed descriptions of everything, you might like this book.
The characters were too stereotyped - the nearly perfect, meek and mild Hannah, the bawdy Belle with a heart of gold, the tempting bad boy. I was hoping for more underground railroad adventure, but this was rather dull and plodding. I liked the story well enough, but it seemed to drag, with way too much repetition of how wonderful Hannah was as a seamstress. It made Quakers seem dull and boring.
It was not clear at all why Hannah would be the least bit attracted to Donovan, so this could have been fleshed out more.
She seemed to use the same inflection on nearly every sentence, rising unnaturally at the end. It became annoying after awhile.
I don't think I would cut any scenes, necessarily, but I would eliminate some of the redundant descriptions.
A different narrator.
The main character Honor Bright Haymaker was not as strong as some of her other female characters in her other books. Honor was just a bit too whiney for me to enjoy this book.
Nothing. Every sentence sounded like it ended in a question. Her accent for Honor was not consistent. I almost didn't finish the book because of her narration.
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