The Last Runaway: A Novel

Paperback | October 29, 2013

byTracy Chevalier

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New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and At the Edge of the Orchard Tracy Chevalier makes her first fictional foray into the American past in The Last Runaway, bringing to life the Underground Railroad and illuminating the principles, passions and realities that fueled this extraordinary freedom movement. 

Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker, 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, Honor is drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, where she 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.

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From the Publisher

New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and At the Edge of the Orchard Tracy Chevalier makes her first fictional foray into the American past in The Last Runaway, bringing to life the Underground Railroad and illuminating the principles, passions and realities that fueled this extraordinary freedom movement. Hono...

Tracy Chevalier was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She lives in London with her husband and son.

other books by Tracy Chevalier

Girl With A Pearl Earring: A Novel
Girl With A Pearl Earring: A Novel

Paperback|Jan 1 2001

$16.68 online$22.00list price(save 24%)
At The Edge Of The Orchard: A Novel
At The Edge Of The Orchard: A Novel

Hardcover|Mar 15 2016

$30.50 online$35.00list price(save 12%)
Falling Angels: A Novel
Falling Angels: A Novel

Paperback|Sep 24 2002

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see all books by Tracy Chevalier
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.99 × 5.31 × 0.69 inPublished:October 29, 2013Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:014218036X

ISBN - 13:9780142180365

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Customer Reviews of The Last Runaway: A Novel


Rated 5 out of 5 by from First I am going to open this review with saying that I loved this book. I chose to read it after remembering a great review published by the Historical Novel Society, I am so glad I did. Honor Bright is a Quaker who leaves her home in England to accompany her sister to Ohio in the year 1850. Her sister is to be married, and for personal reasons Honor feels the need to start life afresh, and what better way than moving to a new country. Unfortunately Honor's sister dies on the journey to her fiancé. So Honor proceeds alone, eventually making it to her formerly potential brother-in-law's home. She meets some interesting characters along the way. However she cannot remain in this living situation in the Quaker community and soon finds herself a husband and moves in with his family. This proves difficult. The only light in her life is her meagre assistance to the runaway slaves fleeing to the north. Her new family don't approve. Honor must make some hard decisions. The author has done a wonderful job of including the Quaker way of life into the book. I have read books that have had Quakers in them before but never described their way of life as much as this book did. It really helped to understand why the characters were making the choices that they did. The author also described living in Ohio in the 1850s in such a way that I was able to really imagine it. A fantastic read.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I enjoyed this book - it's a straightforward read - not a complicated plot, but interesting setting. I particularly liked the descriptions of quilts which the protagonist made in England then in America. It is set in the Quaker community and follows the life of a young woman who emigrates to America. Things don't turn out as planned - her sister dies very early on and she goes on to marry a farmer and lives with his family. The farm is on the runaway slave route - they travel from the south and on to Canada where they can become free. It's an interesting piece of history and shows how the Quakers lived and how people responded to slavery. The plot is fairly simple and the characters are perhaps not as well developed as in other books by Chevalier - which is why I have only given 3 stars. Our book group was divided - one or two disliked it, one really liked it and most of us thought it was worth reading but not a "must read".
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book in a while! Amazingly well written, this story of a young English Quaker girl caught up in the Underground Railroad in Ohio, is utterly compelling. Don't start it until you have a big chunk of time to finish it.
Date published: 2013-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read This is an action filled, easy read novel about a young Quaker girl who immigrates to America during the early stages of the new world. Faced with life's many challenges the book reveals with the realities of new world intertwined with the underground rail road.
Date published: 2013-11-14

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Editorial Reviews

“A rich, well-researched novel—it’s the story of one young woman becoming an American.”—NPR, All Things Considered“Well-told and engrossing . . . With compelling characters and swift pacing, ¬The Last Runaway adds a worthy new chapter to a story that has consumed generations.”—USA Today“Irresistible.” —O, The Oprah Magazine“Chevalier admirably weaves historical figures and actual events into a compelling narrative.”—San Francisco Chronicle (on Remarkable Creatures)"Evokes entire landscapes...a master of voices."—New York Times Book Review (on Falling Angels)"Chevalier's signature talent lies in bringing alive the ordinary day-to-dayness of the past...lovingly evoked."—Elle (on Burning Bright)"Absorbing...[Chevalier] creates a world reminiscent of a Vermeer interior: suspended in a particular moment, it transcends its time and place."—The New Yorker (on Girl With a Pearl Earring)"Chevalier's ringing prose is as radiantly efficient as well-tended silver."—Entertainment Weekly (on Falling Angels).