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Monday, July 25, 2016

The Last Runaway

            A historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier, this book details the adventures of Honor Bright, a Quaker who leaves her native England for the United States in 1850. Her reason for emigrating is not to do with a search for new opportunities or religious freedom but to escape a broken romance. Traveling with her sister to Ohio where the sister will marry her fiancé, Honor suffers severe seasickness on her ocean crossing and the loss of her sister from Yellow Fever while traveling from the ship to Ohio. Alone for the first time in her life, Honor must rely on the help of strangers.

            Honor travels to the Quaker settlement in Ohio where her sister’s fiancé and her brother’s widow reside. The surroundings are uncomfortable because of the marital status of all three. Honor also becomes a friend of Belle, a local milliner and non-Quaker who welcomes Honor’s sewing skills to help her with her business. Belle has a half-brother, Donovan, who is a slave hunter. Donovan is enamored of Honor and while she feels an attraction towards him she is horrified by his profession. Instead, she marries a fellow Quaker, Jack, and moves in with him, his widowed mother, and sister. The relationship with her in-laws is awkward; they do not want her to help the escaping slaves. Honor cannot understand why her Quaker community doesn’t support helping the slaves who are traveling through their area en route to the Canadian border.

             Following her own principles, Honor becomes involved with the Underground Railroad.  After some strife, events build to a climax and a satisfactory resolution.

            The author, Tracy Chevalier, was born and raised in the United States, but currently lives in England with her family. She also is the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring.


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