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  • Location: Ohio, Oberlin

The Last Runaway

The Last Runaway

Why a Booktrail?

1850s – Although a fictional story, it is based on the typical life of people at the time and makes you feel as if you’re going on the journey across the USA.

  • ISBN: 978-0007350353
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

In 1850 Honor Bright decides to travel with her sister Grace from Dorset to the US. Grace is going out there in order to marry a farmer from the Quaker community. Honor is a quiet and devoted Quaker , jilted and so now looking for  a fresh start.

But a fresh start is not exactly what she gets – the first part of the journey across the ocean goes bad and tragedy strikes soon after arrival. The rest of the journey is not looking good and Honor fears what will greet on her on arrival.

For Ohio and the community she arrives in might be  small and quaint but this is the land of the slaves where those escaping from the south pass through on their way to freedom in Canada.

It’s not a gentle place for a young Quaker girl to be..

Travel Guide

The Runaway Girl is based on a real situation and shows the life that people had in those days when the underground railroad was in operation. A journey across America and to a new life for a lone Quaker girl must have been terrifying but it’s one you get to see and experience via her eyes.

Lost and alone in a strange land, her sister she went over to America with now dead and Pearl, lost and alone. How would anyone have reacted to helping or ignoring the escaping slaves with the threat and risk of doing either. Doing nothing was often just as dangerous it would seem.

The Quaker lifestyle is brought to life here and it both a fascinating and worrying journey of survival for many.  As well as Honor, Belle Mills, the local milliner made hats and her shop, well if only it were real..

Times are hard for people – and they are especially hard if you are a slave. The setting becomes a character as she describes and illustrates the history and legacy of slavery and the people who suffer it. For example – What happens to those who appose or blatantly disobey the Fugitive Slave Act?

The flavour of the American midwest is not only evoked by setting of course – the way of life and the social mores of the time are examined such as the difference between English quilting and the American way of doing it, recipes between the two countries, culture and much much more.
While the story starts in Dorset ( East street in Bridgeport – where Grace, Honor and the parents live) and Bristol, the real story takes us from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Booktrailer Review

Susan:

Tracy Chevalier books are always full of wonderful evocative writing and good characters and plots.

There were a lot of nice touches with Honor feeling the culture shock that I did on my first time to the USA – everything so vast and different social rules – the different air and the sheer expanse of space and open roads. Of course travelling in a horse and cart would not have helped but the feelings of an English girl all at sea in this way was carefully done.

It was a relatively slow read but very atmospheric and evocative of a different period of American history. the fact that Honor got into sewing of quilts and making bonnets was a lovely touch as it made for some lovely stories of Honor getting a job in a hat making store and improving her needle workmanship and making friends with the ladies she meets. Honor Bright is a mixed character however – sometimes strong and sometimes at risk of getting swept away by events. Tracy however manages to always allow the reader to get under her skin so she was always a character I cared about and even felt sorry for at times.

What would I have done faced with hiding a slave? Easy to say now perhaps but a totally different question asked in the context of time and setting.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:

Twitter: @Tracy_Chevalier

Facebook: /tracychevalierwriter

Web: tchevalier.com

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