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The Last Runaway Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525952993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952992
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (447 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Honor Bright sailed from England to America in 1850 with her sister, Grace, who is betrothed to a fellow Quaker in Ohio. After Grace’s death, Honor is left in the awkward position of an outsider, searching for her place in an unsettled land of restless change where even the Quakers are different from those she had known at home. She finds solace in writing letters to friends and family in England and in the exquisite quilting skills that tie her to her old life and offer some hope of ties to a new one. Honor’s only true American friend is Belle, the unorthodox milliner who clandestinely aids runaway slaves, even as her rough and charismatic brother, Donovan, hunts them down. Horrified by the realities of slavery, Honor faces the new complexities of the Fugitive Slave Law and the challenges it poses for the Quakers and for her personally. Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring, 2000) offers a cast of strong characters wrestling with thorny personalities, the harsh realities of the frontier, and the legal and moral complexities of American slavery. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“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)

More About the Author

Tracy is the author of seven bestselling historical novels, including the international hit GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, which has sold over 4 million copies and been made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. American by birth, British by geography, she lives in London with her husband and son and cat. Her most recent novel, THE LAST RUNAWAY, is her first novel to be set in the United States, and she learned how to make quilts for it. Tracy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has honorary doctorates from her alma maters Oberlin College and the University of East Anglia. Her website www.tchevalier.com will tell you more about her and her books.

Customer Reviews

I really liked the main character and was intrigued with her story.
VELVEETA VERLINE
Historical fiction written with great development of character on a topic of interest involving the history of our nation .
Palmeda Day
It's an easy read and you find yourself turning the pages and not wanting to put the book down.
Victoria V Holman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Honor Bright leaves her English family to accompany her sister to America, thinking she can always return to England, but realizing that her life may take drastic turns. The Last Runaway thus opens with its underlying premise that our choices require actions, which may come at personal cost. After a month-long voyage filled with nausea, Honor steps on American soil and travels by stagecoach to Ohio, only to see her sister die of yellow fever. Alone in the backwoods of Ohio and living among strangers, she must find her place in a land completely unlike the home she pines for.

Honor is flustered by her new environment--differing landscapes, flowers, food and birds. "Even a tree as solid and steady as an oak was transformed in America into something alien." Jarring to her are the independent, enterprising Americans who are unafraid to speak their minds. The "rickety" houses made of wood and muddy streets may be a metaphor for her difficulty in finding stability. She marries Jack Haymaker, a dairy farmer, hoping for security. Soon she learns that 1850s Ohio is the most active state in the Underground Railroad.

Do Quakers sworn to honesty tell white lies to save slaves? Should the Haymaker family help runaways when the Fugitive Slave Act not only forbids it, but also might take away their farm as a penalty? Will Honor continue her Underground activities when repudiated by her husband's family?

The book is honest, but takes a while to ramp up. Honor's character, although true to Quaker tradition, would have benefited from some additional spice and depth. Characters face moral contradictions and this is a grand subtlety of the book. Villainous Slave hunter Donovan manages to draw sympathy from the reader.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I am trying to figure out today what made this book so unputdownable last night (I was up reading it until I finished at 3am) and the only thing I can come up with is the character of Honor Bright. She is such a sympathetic character and I wanted to know what happened to her.

The Last Runaway is the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman who leaves England to escape an unpleasant past that is not of her own doing, and her attempt to fit into the American society in a small town in Ohio. There are a cast of interesting characters in Donovan and Belle, Jack Haymaker, Adam and Abigail, and more and decisions that need to be made by Honor that foreshadow a deeper meaning behind her name.

There were familiar aspects to this novel, anyone who has read Uncle Tom's Cabin will recognize similarities between the stories - but this is more dealing with the other side, what happens to those who disobey the Fugitive Slave Act. It's a life filled with secrets and lies in the midst of a people who refuse to lie.

So this ended up being an unputdownable book for me. It moved quickly, had heart and characters that tugged at my heartstrings, and it was a story that was above and beyond interesting. There were little bits of flavor throughout it as well that helped with the story, making it more personable. The difference between English quilting and American, recipes, culture, and more.

This is a great book for fans of historical fiction who are interested in immigration, the underground railroad, Quakers, and the early pioneer midwest.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Mott VINE VOICE on January 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am not going to overly describe the content of the book in this review. The publishers have provided a more than apt description of the text in the product summary and would be readers may even sample the beginning of the book here on Amazon. Instead, I want to talk more about the essence of this book since I feel the spirit of Tracy Chevalier's works is what I take with me when I'm done instead of individual plot points.

In The Last Runaway, Honor Bright feels a lot of things with a passion that puts her at odds with her religion, the family units she becomes a member of in America, and her faith. The passion does not bubble over in fiery fits but instead simmers below the surface and manifests itself with silences - both literal and figurative.

While I am not a Quaker, I am a deeply religious person with strong political views that differ greatly from those of many others in my religion. When one faces the brick wall of your personal principles contrasting with other's interpretation of the obligations of faith and the ties one is supposed to have with family, there are no easy answers and Honor discovers this and struggles with it through the text.

A smattering of fellow Quakers, a feisty milliner, her slave-catcher brother/potential love interest, and a family present themselves to Honor and each guides her, either purposefully, forcefully, or accidentally, toward finding her place in America and the world. For any of us who have left the areas we were born in, I think there is a lot to relate to. The place we spent our formative years - good or bad - provides the standard we contrast everything else against. Sometimes life seems better, and sometimes it seems worse.
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