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The Last Runaway [Kindle Edition]

Tracy Chevalier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (510 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into actions.

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Praise for The Last Runaway:

‘I have always admired Tracy Chevalier's un-showy brilliance, and this moving story of a young English Quaker girl trapped between duty and conscience in 1850s Ohio is the best thing she's written since Girl with a Pearl Earring’ Rose Tremain

The Last Runaway is a joy to read. Chevalier handles the intersection of two stories – those of pioneering Quakers and escaping slaves – with verve, imagination and, above all, compassion’ Maggie O’Farrell

‘A brave, warm-hearted, moving book; the characters are well-drawn and credible; the local colour meticulously detailed’ Joanne Harris

‘By far her best book since Girl With A Pearl Earring if not better’ Amanda Craig

‘Chevalier places her heroine at the heart, constructing a synergy between character and plot that makes this novel exquisitely complete… addictively compelling… Honor Bright deserves a sequel’ THE TIMES

‘Her best since Girl With a Pearl Earring… as a serious novel about a genuine moral dilemma, it is highly recommended’ THE INDEPENDENT

‘Chevalier immerses herself in period and place. Her research, as always, is meticulous and lightly worn… an entertaining read’ GUARDIAN

‘Tracy Chevalier has woven a rich tapestry here, setting her protagonist at the crosswords of a time explosive with issues surrounding slavery, rapidly changing industry, America’s pioneering spirit and its racial divide’ INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

‘Chevalier’s eye for the telling detail brings it vividly to life. As simple and plain as a Quaker bonnet, but, like a Quaker soul, it contains a hidden light’ LITERARY REVIEW

‘A gripping and potent novel which shows Chevalier at the height of her powers’ THE EXPRESS

‘Tracy Chevalier has found a subject that both fascinates and moves her and the result is this quietly powerful and gripping novel’ The MAIL

About the Author

Tracy Chevalier is the author of six previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. She has a website at

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1335 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007350341
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (510 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Tracy is the author of seven historical novels, including the international bestseller GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, which has sold over 4 million copies and been made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. American by birth, British by geography, she lives in London with her husband and son and cat. Her most recent novel, THE LAST RUNAWAY, is her first novel to be set in the United States, and she learned how to make quilts for it. Tracy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has honorary doctorates from her alma maters Oberlin College and the University of East Anglia. Her website will tell you more about her and her books.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
101 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Story 14 Mar. 2013
Tracy Chevalier is one of my favourite authors and she has a way of making history come alive in her novels which have subjects as diverse as Vermeer and fossils. In The Last Runaway she switches her focus to America, in particular 1850s Ohio where the young English Quaker, Honor Bright starts a new life very different to her quiet upbringing in Dorset, England.

It is a time of great upheaval in America as the country inches towards civil war with a variety of runaways, both black slaves and white settlers, trying to forge a better life for themselves. Honor finds life hard as a single woman unaccustomed to the American way but she is aided by the flamboyant Belle Mills, a milliner, who takes Honor under her wing. Belle's brother, Donovan, sets his sights on Honor but his reputation as a dissolute slave hunter makes him an unlikely suitor.

Reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, this is a novel with strong female characters who use their wits to survive difficult times. Those travelling the Underground Railway are not the only runaways in this well-researched and eloquently written novel.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read 25 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting story, well paced, well written and not overly challenging or too long. Chevalier's use of a small group of characters playing out the difficulties of managing faith principles in a vast new environment where pragmatism and compromise are also essential for survival, is well balanced. You feel the struggle of the central character in coming to terms with how to manage this new way of living and the tension of all the characters' frustrations without being negatively overwhelmed. A pleasure to pick up at the end of the day for a read before bed. Great for a holiday read too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By BrynG
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first Tracy Chevalier book I have read and I'm afraid I didn't like it. It is not a surprise to me to see that other critical reviewers have said this is her worst book; someone as successful must have written something better.
On the positive side, the plot is interesting and has plenty of potential; a Quaker community in 1850 America and its involvement in helping slaves make their way to the safety of Canada by offering food and shelter.
You'd imagine that living in such a frontier time and place would develop multi-dimensional strong characters, but this book is populated by cardboard cut-out goodies and baddies. Additionally, the main character, Honor Bright, a young English woman who finds herself in an unfamiliar country in completely unexpected and unplanned circumstances (she started her journey across America with her sister who died along the way), just didn't ring true for me. For example: she has come to America for a fresh start following the desertion of her intended future husband, and despite having previously had no more physical contact than hand holding and the odd kiss, Honor is soon romping in the hay with someone she has barely known, and is married within a matter of weeks. I'm not saying this couldn't happen, but surely there would have been some internal conflict going on.
The subject of quilting is a constant thread (excuse the pun!) throughout the book, and there are plenty of descriptions of various techniques, designs, colours, fabrics etc. Because quilting is an ever-present I'd have thought that the author would justify this by establishing an interest in the reader on this subject, but it seems to be taken as a given that everyone will find this subject fascinating. I'm afraid I didn't.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a runaway success 18 Aug. 2013
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a hard act to follow and I don't think Tracy Chevalier has ever reached its heights again. I felt the characters came first in that book and the research second. In all her subsequent books, and definitely in this one, it's the other way round. I've read all her novels because I really like the subjects she chooses. I've found them interesting - but `interesting' is not enough, I want plots and memorable characters too. The Last Runaway is a frustrating read. Much of what Honor, the main character, says or writes home, is regurgitated research. It's all fascinating stuff - patchwork patterns, hat making, the making of American towns by pioneers, the `underground railroad' - but that doesn't make a story. There is no heart-thumping tension - yet hiding and helping runaway slaves was appallingly risky. Belle leapt off the page but none of the other characters came to life for me, not even Honor. I felt I was being told how I should feel about each of them, rather than them being shown clearly enough that I could make up my own mind.
Some of the writing was dull and repetitive, I'm sorry to say - characters `froze' rather often (a phrase I particularly dislike anyway); fabric was invariably `dotted'. If this wasn't by the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and was instead a manuscript by A. N. Author on a publisher's slush pile it would be returned `Could try harder'.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical background 8 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An easy and absorbing read, but I wasn't really convinced by most of the characters. The author had obviously done a good deal of research into the various strands of the emancipation debate, and I did learn something about the reasons for the opposition to it, and also a little bit about quilting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the last runaway it seemed to trip off the ...
Enjoyed the last runaway it seemed to trip off the pen (or fly off the word processor). Loved the quilting descriptions and the setting of the story within a Quaker Community... Read more
Published 16 days ago by bridget s
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it and thought it would make a good movie
Loved it and thought it would make a good movie. Gerard Butler for the slave hunter and Ryan Gosling as the Quaker husband.
Published 16 days ago by Mrs. D. J. B. Belt
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good story by Tracy Chevalier
Another good story by Tracy Chevalier, set in the Quaker belt of America amongst early settlers. Strong characters living tough lives.
Published 17 days ago by Jan
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Worth taking with you on holiday
Published 29 days ago by Karen Lamming
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good page turner I really longed to know what would happen next a very enjoyable read
Published 1 month ago by MRS WENDY CROZIER
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Jo Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story very well told
An excellent story very well told. Based in area and on a subject with which I was familiar. The characters were well drawn and the description excellent. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Miss Patricia Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5 stars!
I have to say that I am a Tracy Chevalier fan.

This one is lovely. Lots of references to quilts, quilt-making and applique. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jill in East Kent
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very well written - couldn't put it down!
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. J E Finnigan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quiltmaking friend very pleased- I thought it great too!
Published 1 month ago by Flicka
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