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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Overly simplistic account of an interesting subject
on 8 March 2014
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.
I get the impression that Tracey Chevalier is an out an out story teller, and she's not really trying to impart any deep and meaningful message. For me there are other writers who do this far more successfully (e.g. Khaled Hosseini with A Thousand Splendid Suns) and I'm afraid I didn't really engage with any of the characters in this story.
If this book is ever turned into a film I'd guess that it will be one of those rare occasions when the film is better than the book (like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
Not my cup of tea at all.