The Last Runaway – by Tracy Chevalier – independent book review – Historical Fiction (United States)

As someone who has enjoyed several of Tracy Chevalier’s earlier novels (including Girl With A Pearl Earring), I was looking forward to this one — historical fiction based in Ohio during the mid 1880s. I figured combining Quakers, early farming settlements in the mid-west, and the underground railroad would make a pretty interesting read. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

lastrunawayThere’s a rich description of the Quaker way of life and how Quaker communities operated at the time. I found it interesting to learn about Ohio farming when it was just getting underway. And the ways in which some Quakers fought slavery through the underground railroad kept me turning the pages.

But I never found myself emotionally connected to the main character, Honor Bright — a recently emigrated Brit, whose personal struggles center on adjusting to America, accepting the reality of Quaker idealism versus frontier practicality, and a deep sympathy for escaping slaves. There are a few interesting secondary characters like Donovan the slave-hunter and his sister, a creative hat-maker. But even with these more multi-dimensional figures — I didn’t find I was feeling much.

Tracy Chevalier

More about the Tracy Chevalier.

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