The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
A bit of a let down - though probably only because I’ve thought the previous couple of Tracy Chevalier’s books that I’ve read were completely fantastic - not enough to put me off reading more of her work in future.
This is the story of Honor Bright, who leaves the Quaker community in Bridport, Devon in the mid-nineteenth century to journey to Ohio with her sister who is to be married when they arrive. Everything doesn’t go to plan and Honor ends up carving out a new life for herself with a part to play in the ‘Underground Railroad’ moving escaped slaves from the southern US states up to Canada. There’s lots of interesting stuff and details in the book, at times it feels a bit too much about the author’s research, but it’s still a decent story and it doesn’t dry up with all the information. I ended up feeling educated as well as entertained, which is fine by me. In the end I think it comes down to showing how difficult it is to reconcile your morals in your head with your actions in the community.
Each chapter ends with a letter, almost always from Honor to her friends and family back in Devon. This device didn’t seem to do much for the story and is the reason for the book losing at least one star rating. Perhaps twice in the book it gets something over that wouldn’t have come from Honor’s close third person narrative, mostly it just feels like repetitive padding.
All in all a good story that could have been better told, but don’t let me put you off it!