12 Books of Christmas – #5 Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier

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Generally speaking, I read far more of the classics than I do historically set fiction however Tracy Chevalier is one of a few historical novelists I particularly look forward to.  What I really like about Chevalier’s novels, apart from always being so well researched is the uniqueness of her characters.  A lot of historical novels feature monarchs or other infamous figures but Chevalier manages to either dig up largely forgotten people (Mary and Elizabeth in Remarkable Creatures) or characters on the periphery of some of the most famous historical events (Maude and Livy in Falling Angels).  ‘Last Runaway’ definitely falls into the latter of those two categories following Quaker Honor Bright and her new life in the New World.  Like the Quaker world Honor knows back in England,  life is simple at first as despite heartache she quickly marries and settles into her 1850’s Ohio life, however after coming across a slave on the run, Honor finds herself questioning both her faith and character.  As an outsider,  Honor is horrified but feels trapped between the law (Donovan, the local slave hunter is vocal about the consequences of being a sympathizer) and her new family and faith who, for reasons Honor can not understand, decide they must stay out of the debate and therefore in her eyes desert the desperate runaways she sees.  As Honor becomes one of the runaways herself, she comes across an underground network helping the slaves reach the north and alongside the strong and feisty characters of Mrs Reed and Belle, Honor is finally able to overcome her fears and become proactive in the fight towards the abolition of slavery .  A highly compelling and addictive novel as you are willing  Honor to do what she knows is right.

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2 thoughts on “12 Books of Christmas – #5 Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier

  1. You beat me to it with this one! This was our Book Group choice at our last meeting – and the general concensus was that we all loved it!
    Interestingly we spent quite a long time talking about the idea of silence – the silence of a Quaker meeting, Honor’s spell of non-communication and whether we ever really experience silence in our modern lives. It seems quite an important theme in the story. Also, despite the slavery angle, we decided that a major appeal of the novel was the fact that Tracy Chevalier can write so beautifully while telling a story in which nothing much, in the grand scheme of things, really happens…..

  2. Pingback: The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd | Jane & Bex book blog

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