‘Addictively compelling’ The Times
‘A joy to read’ Maggie O’Farrell
As she watched, the darkness unfolded itself, stood and took the shape of a young black woman, barefoot, in a yellow dress. Now Honor must actually do something, though she did not yet know what.
Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into action.
Praise for The Last Runaway:
‘I have always admired Tracy Chevalier's un-showy brilliance, and this moving story of a young English Quaker girl trapped between duty and conscience in 1850s Ohio is the best thing she's written since Girl with a Pearl Earring’ Rose Tremain
The Last Runaway is a joy to read. Chevalier handles the intersection of two stories – those of pioneering Quakers and escaping slaves – with verve, imagination and, above all, compassion’ Maggie O’Farrell
‘A brave, warm-hearted, moving book; the characters are well-drawn and credible; the local colour meticulously detailed’ Joanne Harris
‘By far her best book since Girl With A Pearl Earring if not better’ Amanda Craig
‘Chevalier places her heroine at the heart, constructing a synergy between character and plot that makes this novel exquisitely complete… addictively compelling… Honor Bright deserves a sequel’ THE TIMES
‘Her best since Girl With a Pearl Earring… as a serious novel about a genuine moral dilemma, it is highly recommended’ THE INDEPENDENT
‘Chevalier immerses herself in period and place. Her research, as always, is meticulous and lightly worn… an entertaining read’ GUARDIAN
‘Tracy Chevalier has woven a rich tapestry here, setting her protagonist at the crosswords of a time explosive with issues surrounding slavery, rapidly changing industry, America’s pioneering spirit and its racial divide’ INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
‘Chevalier’s eye for the telling detail brings it vividly to life. As simple and plain as a Quaker bonnet, but, like a Quaker soul, it contains a hidden light’ LITERARY REVIEW
‘A gripping and potent novel which shows Chevalier at the height of her powers’ THE EXPRESS
‘Tracy Chevalier has found a subject that both fascinates and moves her and the result is this quietly powerful and gripping novel’ The MAIL
About the author
Tracy Chevalier is the author of six previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. She has a website at www.tchevalier.com.
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.