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Another triumph from this extraordinary author
on 7 November 2013
The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier
The year is 1850 and Honor Bright's engagement has just been broken off and she decides to travel with her sister, Grace from Bridport, Dorset to Ohio in the USA. The crossing is so horrendous for Honor that she realises that she will never be able to return to England.
Unfortunately, shortly after arriving in America, Grace, the extrovert, who is looking forward to her new life as the wife of Adam Cox (a fellow Quaker) in Faithwell, is struck down by fever and dies leaving Honor, the timid member of the family, to make the journey to Ohio.
I could give a more detailed review and the characters. I could also say why I think that some people who have given the book one or two stars, because they didn't warm to Honor, are wrong, but as usual, Tracy Chevalier hasn't made an easy book for us to read. We need to go off and do some research of our own because how many of us know about the Quakers? How many know about the "Underground Railroad" which Quakers helped set up to enable slaves gain their freedom after fleeing from their "owners"?
Another criticism which I picked up from some of the reviews was the fact that Honor was a hard character to like. I agree, but Tracy Chevalier has cleverly made us look at a young, very naïve girl who has left her very comfortable family life in Bridport to embark on this huge step on moving to America.
I always leave a Tracy Chevalier book with the need to find out more. I also don't always like the central character, but that's not the point, the point is that this book is beautifully written and researched and I know that thanks to this experience, I'll be digging into the whole story of why Quakers left England to emigrate and take their religion to America.