Wednesday 26 February 2020

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier Reviewed by: Jeffrey Manton

A Good Read Revisited 
(published 2013)

US cover
"Simply written, the history lightly but effectively woven, this is a writer so sure of her craft. "

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Fictional Drama / Slavery
Ohio / Dorset

"As she watched, the darkness unfolded itself, stood and took the shape of a young black woman, barefoot, in a yellow dress. Now Honor must actually do something, though she did not yet know what.
Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into action."

The Last Runaway is historical fiction set in pioneer Ohio in the 1850s and is coming of age story about a woman helping runaways from slavery.

Honor is a sheltered Quaker young woman with a strong faith but ostensibly gentle character. She is thrown into life with strangers after her sister dies and the only way out for a woman is to marry. This is a tough, unforgiving land where her principles are tested by harsh in-laws and despite all the obstacles against her, she must help slaves on the run.

Simply written, the history lightly but effectively woven, this is a writer so sure of her craft. An absorbing, moving tale with a raft of compelling characters - this races along and engages you with Honor, heart and soul. And you learn a different tale to the usual 'Old South' with an insight into the Quakers, the slave catchers in the North, the way the law supported slavery, and life in pioneer America.

Riveting, satisfying and thought-provoking - what a novel should be.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
 © Jeffrey Manton

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