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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.
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on 13 June 2015
I have read several books by Tracy Chevalier and am constantly amazed at the diverse subject range and historical periods that she writes about. This book is set mainly in the USA in a Quaker or ‘Friends’ community. We follow the life of a young girl, Honor Bright, embarking on what must have been an epic journey in those days from Dorset to America with her sister who is to marry her fiancé there. Things don’t work out as planned however and on arrival Honor must forge a life for herself. I loved the description of the quilting and the depiction of 1850s Ohio. Set against the background of slavery, this book takes the reader on a journey too as we see it from all points of view; the abolitionist, the pro and from the runaways themselves as Honor has to make a moral choice. Perfectly capturing the mood of the time, I did wonder of there would be a happy ending for her and the runaways . You’ll have to read it to find out but bring a hanky
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on 12 April 2017
This is the story of a young Quaker woman who travels - almost by accident- by ship from Dorset to America. She suffers so much on the voyage that she decides that she cannot face ever going back, even after her sister dies and leaves her without family or friend. She makes her own way and carves out a life for herself which is never easy. She struggles with the conflict between her conscience, which tells her to help runaway slaves, and the needs of her husband's family, who tell the opposite. I liked the historical detail, the resonances with current dilemmas and the quality of the writing.
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on 20 July 2017
This was an interesting read insofar as one learns a lot about Quakers in the past century without it being too lofty. The story is basicly about an English girl who accompany's her sister to America for her wedding. Unfortunately the sister dies before her wedding and her sister is left bereft. An interesting plot but the pace was slow and although the outcome fitted the read it was without climax.
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on 31 May 2014
I enjoyed this book very much and is the first book I have read by Ms Chevalier. At times I found the unfolding of the story a little slow but later appreciated that this was absolutely in keeping with how the story should have been told. The characters have depth and I found myself drawn into the feelings of each one. I have lived in the US in one of the States where slaves were assisted and 'the underground railway' was active so reading of such issues, crafted with such feeling was meaningful for me. I am also a quilter and I found the terms and descriptions of quilting to be familiar and insightful. A gentle but imposing read.
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on 3 June 2017
I usually order one book at a time but now I have got all the following books on my list at the same time. Sorry to say I am not a fast reader so I can't make a comment about the following books yet. I have read several Tracy Chevalier books in the past and have enjoyed them very much and order them in case we decide to read them for our book club.
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on 5 June 2017
I liked this book. It was interesting historically, I liked the heroine and I cared what happened to the main characters. It wasn't too gruelling nor to easy and chic lite. An easy but satisfying book that kept me turning the pages late into the night.
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on 24 May 2017
Tracey Chevalier writes beautifully and is very true to the subjects she chooses. I really enjoyed this book but there was just the lack of any real excitement that left me not quite satisfied.
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on 7 May 2017
Fascinating story, beautifully told. A young Quaker woman is alone in a strange land (19th Century America) after her sister dies of yellow fever. Her life unfolds as she marries a fellow Quaker and finds herself helping runaway slaves.
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on 23 December 2013
Had quite a lot of details about the slavery problem and quilting but it never really caught my imagination. It felt as though the story hung on the information about these.
Girl With a Pearl Earring has never been bettered. The Lady & the Unicorn came close but nothing else has come near it.
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