Author: Tracy Chevalier
Provided Synopsis: In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.
Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.
However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.
Review: Honor Bright is a young Quaker woman who immigrates from England to America, eventually coming to live in Ohio. Although she once believed herself to know her path in life and the beliefs of herself and her community, the differences she encounters in America continue to unsettle her. The Last Runaway looks into the first year of Honor’s life in America, and explores what happens when Honor’s beliefs swerve away from her Quaker community in the subject of assisting runaway slaves.
That being said, please note that The Underground Railroad does not take a prominent role in this novel. Honor and those she comes into contact with do take part in assisting runaways, but that is not what this story is solely about — unfortunately. Around the ending of the novel, the mission of Honor and The Underground Railroad do become more entangled, yet that development came too late in the story to really dive into it the way I would have liked. In that respect I often felt as if this novel were on the brink of being something more inticing, but it did not go there. (I wish I could offer more on this point, but I don’t not want to give away any spoilers. So if you would like to discuss my thoughts on this then please send me a message!)
Still, this was a well-written story that presented a satisfying read. I learned much more about the lives and beliefs of Quakers than I had ever known before; I also learned quite a lot about quilting, since Honor is a gifted quilter.