Customer Reviews for

The Last Runaway: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
( 73 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

32 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

A fascinating novel about Quakers and America's Underground Railroad

Honor Bright is a young Quaker woman who reluctantly leaves England to accompany her betrothed sister to American for the wedding. The crossing is far from easy and Honor suffers seasickness the entire month. When the sisters arrive in America, matters take a shocking t...
Honor Bright is a young Quaker woman who reluctantly leaves England to accompany her betrothed sister to American for the wedding. The crossing is far from easy and Honor suffers seasickness the entire month. When the sisters arrive in America, matters take a shocking turn when Honor’s sister falls ill with yellow fever and dies. As scheduled, Honor arrives in Ohio at her sister’s betrothed’s home and finds herself alone with no choice but to live with the family until she can resolve her future.

Before long, Honor meets and marries a farmer named Jack Haymaker. Unaccustomed to the harsh duties of farming life and her role in milking the family’s dairy cows under the disapproving eye of her mother-in-law, Honor is far from happy. But her Quaker background gives her the strength to carry on dutifully and with little complaint. Her life becomes even more filled with adversity when she discovers they live in the active path of the Underground Railroad, and she begins to aid those who have escaped slavery for the freedom of Canada.

As the story unfolds, readers feast on detailed descriptions about landscapes, materials, tools, transportation, and clothing. Honor faces personal dilemma’s of faith and morality, of doing what is right vs what is expected, of love and duty. The Last Runaway delves deeply with intense detail into the Underground Railroad and the dangers faced by not only the slaves, but those who aided the slaves to freedom. Believable characters like slave hunting Donovan and his sister Belle who secretly works against her brother and helps slaves, made for a fascinating story.

The book starts slowly because of quilting details and many descriptions, but it is necessary and engaging as it is of historical importance and adds to the story when it begins to really take root. The novel focuses on the role and risks Quakers took to help slaves during this tumultuous period in history. Tracy Chevalier writes with great depth and insight, creating compelling, three dimensional characters that remain in your thoughts long after the book is finished. Definitely most highly recommended as a novel of historical depth and importance.

posted by Mirella on January 8, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A gem

It was good to read someone telling a story about that time in history. A very thought-provoking book.

posted by 2915993 on March 21, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Too much like a romance novel

    I have read several of this author's books, which persuaded me to purchase this one. It was OK, a bit sappy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2013

    Highly Recommended...especially if you are an historical fiction fanatic.

    I loved the character developments in this story. The attention to detail - quaker communities in America and England, quit designs, etc. - is wonderful and instead of slowing the story down it moves it along with style and grace.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2013

    Good reading

    This was not my favorite of hers but still a good read. The book moves along and is historically well written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Recommend

    It was a good book. 3 1/2 star maybe 4 star

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    I would highly recommend this wonderful book.  I'm glad that I d

    I would highly recommend this wonderful book.  I'm glad that I did not read 2 of the reviews here because it would have prevented me from enjoying this book.  

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Fascinating historical read. Highly recommended.

    Fascinating historical read. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Great Read

    The author places subtle clues placed along the way to keep the reader enticed to read into the next chapter. It was interesting to watch the character mature and find her voice by the end of the book. Would read another book by this author.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Great book

    I purchased the audio version and loved the sonance of the characterizations. I felt sorry for Honor yet felt her to be a strong woman. The reader of this novel puts you in the moment as she is reading this novel. You need to read this novel if you like historical fiction. It just places you in the times and settings. Good descriptions that send your imagination to the place and time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Thought-provokin

    An excellent and informative story. I could not put this book down. Would I have the courage to choose between principle and practicality as this main character does. Thought-provoking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    Good read - highly recommend.

    Short yet meaningful. Good characters and storyline. I learned something. It kept my attention. Although it wasn't long I was satisfied with the entirety. One of her better books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    You won't be disappointed by Tracy Chevalier!

    I have read every one of Tracy Chevalier's books and have loved them all. When I saw this one I was excited that she had written a new one. She has a particular way, winding you in slowly in the beginning, then opening up the characters and thesis of the novel. It is obvious that she does her research, has an interest, and makes everything about the story as real as it can be.
    I was not disappointed with "The Last Runaway", just as i have never been disapointed by any other novel by Chevalier.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2013

    Great historical novel

    Being a history buff, especially involving the Civil War era, I appreciated reading more about the implications resulting from runaway slaves, a subject I am always drawn to read more about. So much of the remainder of the book centers on "girl meets boy" saga, and the ups and downs of their lives as the story unfolds, which is predictable, and a bit boring. However, the riding off into the sunset ending did put a nice twist into the story. Ms. Chevalier is an author I am familiar with, and look forward to reading any books that I see she has written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    Tracy Chevalier is true to form in her newest book The Last Runaway. Tracy reveals her talent for using the historical time frame to spin a gripping story and perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest in her long list of excellent books. I give it 4 1/2 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    Why?

    After these 2 reviews I will not have to read the book. Fools.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2014

    Great Book....really kept my interest

    This gave new meaning to me about the "underground railroad".
    She was most brave....interesting end....
    SP in Irvine

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Great book

    Great book

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  • Posted March 8, 2014

    this was an excellent book. a fast read and enjoyable.

    this was an excellent book. a fast read and enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Here's a marvelous 'history' novel that takes American readers b

    Here's a marvelous 'history' novel that takes American readers back to antebellum times in Quaker communitiesin England and Ohio. The story has been described before, omitting the important theme of quilts and quilting which informs and enriches plot and action. Chevalier puts together her story by describing characters (cutting quilt pieces) and watching them change as the action moves along (stitching pieces together). What evolves is an entrancing tale that, upon completion, nearly takes away your breath. I gasped with the power of some penultimate paragraphs (don't cheat, read the book through!).
    This is Chevalier's first story set mostly in America, very specifically in a few close-knit Quaker communities. Sexual and societal roles are very narrowly defined, and cultural expectations follow. Dramatic tension results when characters step off the narrow path, change, and become more enlightened--or not. Briton Honor Bright learns about the horrific toll of slavery and becomes relatively rebellious; milliner Belle Mills experiences Quaker virtue and devastating illness; Quaker Jack Haymaker learns that sometimes expectations must be adjusted; and Belle's brother learns a bit about confounding love.
    Readers, in turn, learn about Quaker culture, quilting, Community of Friends meetings, the cultural shock of moving from England to America in the 1850s, the 'real' Underground Railroad, and the restricted roles in society that 'good' people were expected to fill.
    Chevalier takes history, art, and culture, obviously asks herself questions, then proceeds to answer them with her vivid imagination. We've read about the literal Girl with a Pearl Earring--who was that girl?--and The Lady and the Unicorn--what was the story behind the world's most famous tapestries? Her other works take historic subjects or personalities and greatly magnifies them untl we feel a personal connection with the characters... particularly Remarkable Creatures and Falling Angels. I treasure each book she writes.

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  • Posted December 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I love this book. My book club read it and gave it a 4.5. I lear

    I love this book. My book club read it and gave it a 4.5. I learned much about the Underground Railroad by reading this book. I also learned much about quilits. I like the Honor is a strong woman. I also like most of the other women in The Last Runaway. I like Jack Haymaker and Comfort. I thought the fact that Honor lost her virginity in a cornfield was funny. I highly recommend this book for book clubs.

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