The Last Runaway Hardcover – 8 Jan 2013
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|Hardcover, 8 Jan 2013||
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"A rich, well-researched novel--it's the story of one young woman becoming an American." --NPR, "All Things Considered"
"Well-told and engrossing . . . With compelling characters and swi pacing, "The Last Runaway "adds a worthy new chapter to a story that has consumed generations."
"Irresistible." --"O, Th e Oprah Magazine"
"Chevalier admirably weaves historical figures and actual events into a compelling narrative."
--"San Francisco"" Chronicle" (on "Remarkable Creatures")
"Evokes entire landscapes...a master of voices."
--"New York Times Book Review "(on "Falling Angels")
"Chevalier's signature talent lies in bringing alive the ordinary day-to-dayness of the past...lovingly evoked."
--"Elle "(on "Burning Bright")
"Absorbing...[Chevalier] creates a world reminiscent of a Vermeer interior: suspended in a particular moment, it transcends its time and place."
--"The New Yorker" (on "Girl With a Pearl Earring")
"Chevalier's ringing prose is as radiantly efficient as well-tended silver."
--"Entertainment Weekly "(on "Falling Angels") --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Tracy Chevalier was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She lives in London with her husband and son. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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'.
Many of the characters are dull and plodding in their hearts and this made them hard to care for. The book could easily have been cut to half it's length; barring the initial inciting incidents, you have to move to about p170 before anything happens. Very disappointing.
Fleeing heartbreak, Quaker girl Honor Bright leaves Dorset and accompanies her sister, Grace, to America. In America, Honor suffers more heartbreak and finds it very hard to adjust to her new life. Eventually, Honor marries Jack Haymaker and tries to make the best of her situation. Whilst adapting to her new life on the Haymaker farm, Honor comes into contact with slaves and helps them escape to freedom via a network of secret routes and safe houses.
The themes in this novel are fascinating, and I loved the historical setting. I enjoyed reading about Quaker life, the quilt making, and learning about how runaway slaves escaped to Canada.
I soon became immersed in Honor's story. The women Honor befriends are strong characters. Belle and Mrs Reed are particularly memorable, and Belle's brother, Donovan, is another character that stands out.
The story is beautifully written, moves along at a reasonable pace and gives a good insight into a fascinating part of American history.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very easy to read novel although a little predictable at times. I found the descriptions and uses of the quilts interesting.Published 10 days ago by Lin Davidson
A real page-turner. Easy style. Really good characterisation and location painting. You were in there with them, willing them to overcome the problems and find freedom and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sheelagh O'SHEA
Easy to read and to care about Honnor Bright and her choices. No cliff hangers but subtle drama, well writtenPublished 2 months ago by C. F. Vickers