Reviews for Last Runaway

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 January
A tale of freedom from Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier, of Girl With a Pearl Earring fame, shifts her focus from Europe and enigmatic works of art to 1850s Ohio and the Underground Railroad in her latest, The Last Runaway. Jilted by her fiancé, quiet Quaker Honor Bright departs safe England for untamed America, and learns there that living according to one’s principles is easier said than done.

Left suddenly alone on her new continent after a family tragedy, Honor seeks comfort in the meditative routine of her beloved quilting. Her talent for stitching gains her an unlikely friend: the whiskey-swilling, cursing Kentucky export Belle Mills, who, to Honor’s shock, is hiding runaway slaves. Opposed to slavery like other Quakers, Honor silently approves of Belle’s actions, but when she begins helping slaves herself, she is met with resistance from her new community of Friends—despite their passionate abolitionist speeches. Further complicating matters are Honor’s first stirrings of lust: Belle’s brother, Donovan, is coarse, violent and, worst of all, a slave hunter—yet Honor can’t get him out of her head, even as she’s drawn to red-blooded Quaker farmer Jack Haymaker. As Honor moves deeper into the risky world of aiding slaves, she is confronted with several difficult choices.

Evoking 19th-century Ohio life with a quiet lushness, Chevalier seamlessly seeds vivid period details into her writing. Though minor bits test patience—Honor can supposedly hear an eye blink—the conflicts of this young woman’s head and heart will pull readers to the last page. Chevalier questions the difference between bravery and foolishness and explores whether ideology should displace family ties, and her characters are drawn with satisfying shades of gray. Having lived in England for nearly 30 years, the American-born Chevalier calls this novel her “love letter home.” Warm and thoughtful, The Last Runaway gratifyingly probes America’s growing pains.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 August #1

For the first time ever, the American-born, London-based Chevalier is using America as a backdrop. Leaving home after suffering a disappointment, English Quaker Honor Bright ends up in 1850 Ohio, where she finds folks--even Quakers--pragmatically unprincipled and becomes involved in the Underground Railroad.

[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 December #1

English Quaker Honor Bright wants nothing more than to lead a simple and righteous life, but when her engagement to her childhood sweetheart is broken, Honor sails for America and the great unknown of the Ohio frontier. Though she begins her journey with optimism, it quickly fades when tragedy strikes, and Honor finds herself alone and afraid in her new home, depending, for the first time, on the kindness of strangers. Swept up in America's antislavery movement, forced to choose between loyalties to those she loves and the greater good, Honor discovers that the world is not as simple as she once believed. VERDICT Chevalier's (The Girl with the Pearl Earring; Remarkable Creatures) writing continues to have that can't-put-it-down quality, and her change in settings from Europe to 19th-century frontier America is a welcome one. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 7/9/12.]--Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ

[Page 79]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #2

Chevalier's (Girl with a Pearl Earring) haunting seventh novel delves into the difference between a theory of belief and its practice. When young Quaker Honor Bright's fianc breaks off the relationship to marry outside the faith, Honor goes to America in 1850 with her sister, Grace. Grace is engaged to marry Adam Cox, a young man from their hometown who followed his brother to Faithwell, Ohio. Unfortunately, Grace dies en route, and Honor arrives in Ohio to find Adam sharing a house with Abigail, his sister-in-law, made a widow by the death of Adam's brother. Honor moves into the house, but feels tense and unwelcome. In Belle Mills, a milliner who appreciates Honor's sewing skills, Honor finds a friend and ally. Honor also draws the attention of Belle's brother, Donovan, a slave hunter, and Jack Haymaker, a local farmer, a man "like a pulled muscle that Honor sensed every time she moved." They marry and Honor, drawn by her sympathies into helping the Underground Railroad, is forced to choose between living her beliefs and merely speaking them. The birth of her own child raises the stakes, and she takes a unique stand in her untenable situation. Honor's aching loneliness, overwhelming kindness, and stubborn convictions are beautifully rendered, as are the complexities of all the supporting characters and the vastness of the harsh landscape. Honor's quiet determination provides a stark contrast to the roiling emotions of the slave issue, the abolitionist fight, and the often personal consequences. Chevalier's thought-provoking, lyrical novel doesn't allow any of her characters an easy way out. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC