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The Last Runaway: Trade Paperback PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Last Runaway: Trade Paperback
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Publisher: Published January 3rd 2013 by Publication date: January 2013 Customer Rating: ( 1 Ratings already ) (first published 2013)
ISBN: 9780525953937
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Modern Literature

30 review for The Last Runaway: Trade Paperback

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    ‘’I am excluded even from the excluded, she thought.’’ Tracy Chevalier is one of those writers who have contributed in the development of Historical Fiction as we know it today. Her writing contains beautiful metaphors and a successful combination of a fresh, modern feeling and a kind of dialogue that is faithful to the depicted era. Girl With A Pearl Earring managed to bring the Netherlands to focus and started a whole array of books set during the 17th century, inspired by the magnificent pain ‘’I am excluded even from the excluded, she thought.’’ Tracy Chevalier is one of those writers who have contributed in the development of Historical Fiction as we know it today. Her writing contains beautiful metaphors and a successful combination of a fresh, modern feeling and a kind of dialogue that is faithful to the depicted era. Girl With A Pearl Earring managed to bring the Netherlands to focus and started a whole array of books set during the 17th century, inspired by the magnificent painters of this beautiful country. The Last Runaway is equally successful. I dare say that, at times, it is even better… Ohio, 1850s. The tension between the cities of the North and the cities of the South regarding the abolition of slavery is brewing. The communities are divided over the issue and over their own religious beliefs, The Quakers are considered weird but they are supposed to be honest and supporters of equality. Does this ‘’equality’’ extent to salves? It depends...In the midst of it all, we find Honor. A young Englishwoman whose life changes drastically the moment she set foot in the New World. Her relationships with an array of interesting characters and her convictions compose a beautiful, sad, poignant story. ‘’Well, there you go. We’re all from somewhere else. That’s how Ohio is.’’ The community Chevalier depicts is a mix of opposites. Ohio is a stop on the way North or on the way South. The residents are torn between sympathy and fear. The story is built on the notion of antithesis. Antithesis between our faith and our actions. Between love and duty. Between obligations and wishes. Honor has been brought up to be honest no matter what but there are things she can’t even admit to herself. Donovan is torn between his twisted notion of duty and the demands of his heart. To what extent can we disregard our social and familial duties in order to do what we think is right and just? Do we give in and betray our principles? These are the questions Honor has to face while trying to forge a life in a place that is an amalgam of clashing convictions and troubled souls. The writing is exceptional. I could go on about all the vivid details, the beautiful imagery, the dialogue. There is an underlying tenderness and softness in the prose even if the subject itself is difficult and harsh. Τhe daily life and customs are masterfully described and the themes that Chevalier uses to compose her story are always relevant to any era. The tone isn’t didactic or preachy but simple, direct and calm like Honor herself. The characters are major contributors to a successful novel and in this one we have quite a few memorable ones. Honor is a delight in the sense that she’s realistic, determined and persistent. I didn’t think of her as naive. On the contrary, I admired her bravery because she had to face the prejudices of a whole community and the horrible manners of her mother-in-law. Now, I will become controversial here and admit that I would choose a different path and obey my true wishes regarding marriage and family but I understand her motives given the era and the circumstances. This brings us to Donovan, one of the most interesting characters I’ve recently come across. He is complex, almost tragic in his choices, his inner battle. Belle is also exceptional as are Virginie and Mrs Reed. The Haymakers? I definitely could have done without those idiots… There is an interesting theme permeating the novel. The notion of looking and thinking forward instead of dwelling in misfortune. The American Way. Honor questions this. She considers it a mistake because not remembering leads to the same mistakes over and over again. Judging by the way our world works, I cannot help thinking that she is right. Slavery, war, atrocities committed against the people whose land was stolen by the settlers… Within such a context, future can only become better through togetherness. The end is satisfying but it is clear that Honor isn’t convinced. And she’s right, in my opinion. Noone can speak of equality and continue dividing people into categories. And once more, I cannot help thinking that every successful Historical Fiction novel acts as the clearest mirror reflecting our problematic societies… My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Oh, goodreads. Why does thee not allow for a half star rating? If thy did, I would give this book a solid 2.5 star rating. For the cover-art, I would give thy a 5 star rating. But I digress. Tracy Chevalier's latest book examines the Quakers' role in the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s. We see this time period through the eyes of one Honor Bright, a recent emigrate from England. Honor is a twenty year old who (like most twenty somethings) finds it is one thing to profess moral ideals a Oh, goodreads. Why does thee not allow for a half star rating? If thy did, I would give this book a solid 2.5 star rating. For the cover-art, I would give thy a 5 star rating. But I digress. Tracy Chevalier's latest book examines the Quakers' role in the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s. We see this time period through the eyes of one Honor Bright, a recent emigrate from England. Honor is a twenty year old who (like most twenty somethings) finds it is one thing to profess moral ideals and quite another to live by them. Issues that vex Honor: Quakers are not allowed to lie or keep secrets BUT the success of the Underground Railroad relies on such prevarication. How does thy quilt when the very material used to quilt with comes off the backs' of slaves? Her mother-in-law, Judith, an elder in the Quaker community. Sour-faced and judgy. Donovan, the slave-catcher. Her loins and all. Earnest details about quilting, millinery, and social customs add interest to the narrative- as does Mrs. Reed, a Conductor of the Underground Railroad. Most of the other characters are a bit wooden and fall flat. This could have been a fantastic book but for lack of development and oversimplification. Bummer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    A Quaker girl from England landed up in Faithwell, Ohio, 1850, right in the middle of the Underground Railroad's path. Heartsick and homesick, Honor Haymaker struggled to wrap her mind around the slavery laws of America and the way it was applied in the northern states. Milking cows, sewing quilts, making hay, bottling the bounty of summer for the harsh uncompromising winters, tapping maple trees for syrup, making cheese, obeying her mother-in-law, and being a good wife, drained her from everyth A Quaker girl from England landed up in Faithwell, Ohio, 1850, right in the middle of the Underground Railroad's path. Heartsick and homesick, Honor Haymaker struggled to wrap her mind around the slavery laws of America and the way it was applied in the northern states. Milking cows, sewing quilts, making hay, bottling the bounty of summer for the harsh uncompromising winters, tapping maple trees for syrup, making cheese, obeying her mother-in-law, and being a good wife, drained her from everything she ever believed in or aspired to. Her only true friends were Belle Mill, the milliner, and Mrs. Elsie Reed, a former slave, in Wellington, but their friendship were strictly forbidden by her husband's family. Belle was also the sister of Donovan Mill, the slave-hunter, who made it his business to uphold the laws. The relentless clattering of his horse's hooves--one of the hooves had a distinctive thud as a result of a thick shoe--were heard anytime, anywhere, even in the small radical town of Oberlin. Donovan did not hesitate to paw through his sister's possessions as well to get behind possible stationmasters's actions of the Underground Railroad. Just as he did with Honor's trunk a few months earlier, when Honor was on Thomas's wagon on her way from Hudson to Wellington after arriving in America. Belle gifted her a gray bonnet with a yellow trimming. It became the first act of rebellion against a community which was slowly choking the last breath from Honor Haymaker's body. From there, the road to freedom of choice became tougher than the survival of the snares in the woods that caught run-away slaves on their journey to the Canadian border. MY COMMENTS To start of with: this story is about people on the move. Of people running away from lives they could not face. Honor Bright, became Honor Haymaker, with the plot of the story clearly established in the protagonist's names. From then on it became a heartfelt, and gripping adventure through the history of slavery and the settlement of the immigrants, with the hardships surrounding the lives of all the people on the run. Their journeys took them either from east to west, or south to north over the vast territories of America. And there, where their roads crossed, this story took shape. A beautiful, compassionate read. I really enjoyed this book. An excellent read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    The Book Maven

    Simply put, this is one of the BEST historical novels I have ever read. The plot: After being jilted by her fiance in England, Quaker woman Honor Bright decides to accompany her sister Grace to America and help Grace adjust to her upcoming marriage and impending life as a pioneer woman. But when tragedy befalls them, Honor finds herself alone in a strange country, dependent on the kindness of strangers and trying to learn the customs of 1850s Ohio--still a rough and wild place. Furthermore, she h Simply put, this is one of the BEST historical novels I have ever read. The plot: After being jilted by her fiance in England, Quaker woman Honor Bright decides to accompany her sister Grace to America and help Grace adjust to her upcoming marriage and impending life as a pioneer woman. But when tragedy befalls them, Honor finds herself alone in a strange country, dependent on the kindness of strangers and trying to learn the customs of 1850s Ohio--still a rough and wild place. Furthermore, she has much to learn about the raw, bitter, divisive nature of the issue of slavery, and how very little is as black and white as we wish it could be. Chevalier is, at this point, a veteran writer of historical fiction. I've enjoyed her novels in the past, but The Last Runaway sets a new, even higher standard for her work. While Chevalier is skilled at forming compelling, conflicted primary and secondary characters, where she truly excels in this novel is her setting and framework. I moved away from the Midwest several years ago, but she evokes the landscape, the climate, the burgeoning history and legacy so exquisitely, I had to put the book down at one point and have a good, homesick cry. I fear it will be a long time before I encounter the likes of this book again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    This novel was enjoyable enough. However, reading it gives one a sensation of floating atop the story - nothing pulls a person in or attaches itself to the reader's emotions. The story is just too light. The first hundred pages are largely given over to quilting patterns and sewing techniques, which is fine enough if one has a taste for such thorough narrations of domestique intricacies; but a reader choosing this book based on the cover description would be disappointed. It leaves one to believ This novel was enjoyable enough. However, reading it gives one a sensation of floating atop the story - nothing pulls a person in or attaches itself to the reader's emotions. The story is just too light. The first hundred pages are largely given over to quilting patterns and sewing techniques, which is fine enough if one has a taste for such thorough narrations of domestique intricacies; but a reader choosing this book based on the cover description would be disappointed. It leaves one to believe that it is centred around the Underground Railroad, leaves one to expect a drama of true trials and interpersonal struggles as no tale concerning such a matter could be - or was - otherwise, especially to the people immediately concerned. However, excluding the last scene, the collection of scarce small events involving black runaways throughout this novel most definately purposes as a side story, and, futhermore, each event in and of itself also carries a feeling of being 'small.' The majority of text is dedicated to quilting, as already mentioned, and the dynamics of Quaker communities - the back description should reflect this. Although the main character, Honor Bright, does go through a personal struggle, excited by her and her new family's differing views (including that of dealing with runaways, but certainly not the most prominent dissimilitude), the reader once again feels left floating atop, never really seeing into the character. The reader never really knows Honor Bright and some times she surprisingly demostrates more understanding then one would expect from her hollow, bland character - where did this come from? The afforementioned aside, this book is a nice light read that can remove one from the present without demanding emotional or intellectual strain of any kind. The scenic descriptions of this novel are on par. Chevalier can effectively paint a descriptive picture in few words; she knows just what can be left out, what the reader can fill in himself and does not drag the book down by counting off the leaves on trees. Prehaps my rating would be higher if the cover description properly described the novel: it is a very airy book about a Quaker's life in America at the time of slavery - though slavery is far from its focal point - and do not forget to mention the quilting, quilting, quilting. I was disappointed because I was mislead; I was expecting Underground Railroad and instead got quilting Quaker.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    Honor Bright follows her sister Grace over to America in 1850. She crosses the sea in the Adventurer and makes her slow way to Faithwell, Ohio. She meets despair and tragedy along the way and quickly finds herself in an uncomfortable situation almost as quickly as she arrives. Honor is a Quaker and lives within her community of Friends. She finds that Faithwell is a stop for runaway slaves from the South on their North Star path to Oberlin and onto Canada. I enjoyed each chapter ended with a let Honor Bright follows her sister Grace over to America in 1850. She crosses the sea in the Adventurer and makes her slow way to Faithwell, Ohio. She meets despair and tragedy along the way and quickly finds herself in an uncomfortable situation almost as quickly as she arrives. Honor is a Quaker and lives within her community of Friends. She finds that Faithwell is a stop for runaway slaves from the South on their North Star path to Oberlin and onto Canada. I enjoyed each chapter ended with a letter either from or to Honor, I found myself looking forward to these pieces of correspondence between her old life and new one. I also enjoyed reading about quilting, and learning the differences in the patterns, technique and colors. The things that fell a little flat for me was the runaway storyline- this felt a little too light given the situation. I'm not sure helping runaways in Ohio would've been quite as easy as it was for Honor. These plot points didn't feel gritty enough and I found myself questioning the authenticity of the narrative. Belle Mills was by far my favorite character-- the local milliner whose brother is the slave catcher in the area. Belle is a no-nonsense hat maker with a personality this book sorely needed. Overall, I enjoyed this book-- but it was a lighter historical version of this time period than I would've liked.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    I am trying to figure out today what made this book so unputdownable last night (I was up reading it until I finished at 3am) and the only thing I can come up with is the character of Honor Bright. She is such a sympathetic character and I wanted to know what happened to her. The Last Runaway is the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman who leaves England to escape an unpleasant past that is not of her own doing, and her attempt to fit into the American society in a small town in Ohio. Ther I am trying to figure out today what made this book so unputdownable last night (I was up reading it until I finished at 3am) and the only thing I can come up with is the character of Honor Bright. She is such a sympathetic character and I wanted to know what happened to her. The Last Runaway is the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman who leaves England to escape an unpleasant past that is not of her own doing, and her attempt to fit into the American society in a small town in Ohio. There are a cast of interesting characters in Donovan and Belle, Jack Haymaker, Adam and Abigail, and more and decisions that need to be made by Honor that foreshadow a deeper meaning behind her name. There were familiar aspects to this novel, anyone who has read Uncle Tom's Cabin will recognize similarities between the stories - but this is more dealing with the other side, what happens to those who disobey the Fugitive Slave Act. It's a life filled with secrets and lies in the midst of a people who refuse to lie. So this ended up being an unputdownable book for me. It moved quickly, had heart and characters that tugged at my heartstrings, and it was a story that was above and beyond interesting. There were little bits of flavor throughout it as well that helped with the story, making it more personable. The difference between English quilting and American, recipes, culture, and more. This is a great book for fans of historical fiction who are interested in immigration, the underground railroad, Quakers, and the early pioneer midwest.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I did not like this as much as I thought I would. I like Chevalier, I like Historical Fiction, and I adore books of this period. That's why the book gets a three star rating from me, but it leans towards the lower end of the 3. The book's weakness to me is the wishy-washy main character Honor Bright. She drifts along with events, believes in Silence so much that she doesn't seem to have any thoughts, and above all she didn't make me believe that she was sincere. Honor Bright is an English Quaker I did not like this as much as I thought I would. I like Chevalier, I like Historical Fiction, and I adore books of this period. That's why the book gets a three star rating from me, but it leans towards the lower end of the 3. The book's weakness to me is the wishy-washy main character Honor Bright. She drifts along with events, believes in Silence so much that she doesn't seem to have any thoughts, and above all she didn't make me believe that she was sincere. Honor Bright is an English Quaker, who comes to America to get away from a jilting, ostensibly to help her sister settle into her new home. Her sister succumbs to a yellow fever sickness before she can reach Ohio. Honor, unable to go back to England, but nitpicking away with America because among other things, it is not neat and ordered and there are trees everywhere, decides to continue on to Ohio where she meets a number of interesting characters, all of them somehow connected with fugitive slaves. She continues drifting without purpose until she decides that "the corn is ready" (please don't tell me this used to happen and if it did, is this where the word corny originate from?), and gets married to the second man that happens along. (The first is there to provide some conflict.) Then, she becomes involved in a totally floaty fashion in the Underground Railroad. Honor is a wispy creature to build a story on. Her main trait is that she's silent, and that she's an expert quiltmaker. This gets us through the first hundred pages. She whines incessantly about where she is - everything is so transient, everyone wants to move away, they have wood houses and not solid stone like in England - all the while forgetting that more and more people were leaving England to make a life in the new world, including herself. She doesn't make any effort to be involved in the Community she believes in so much, so it becomes really hard for us to empathize with her when she says she's friendless. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, true, but as I read it, it's used as a backdrop to this wallflower's story, and that's just not interesting. She uses her people's aversion to help fugitive slaves to make a martyr of herself. They have a very compelling reason for the aversion, in spite of which they give her a great deal of latitude. Sure, they could use some spine, and their actions are deplorable and all too common. But, what bothered me with the book is that the girl who will go silent for months on her family in some weird sort of judgment for refusing to help a runaway can see the "Light" in a merciless slave catcher denounced even by his own sister. What kind of person would do that? Other than a horny one having the hots for the slave catcher, I mean. She doesn't actually have the guts to admit that either. But I do give Chevalier points for a bunch of other things. As always the descriptions of the period, and of the place are great to read. She evokes the transience of the place well. There are some memorable characters - Belle Mills, Donovan, Judith Haymaker, Mrs. Reed. In fact, any one not named Honor Bright happen to have a personality. I would have loved to read a book from Belle's perspective or Mrs. Reed's. Infinitely more interesting characters. The scenes with the fugitives are affecting and I kept wishing that the book had more of that. I even liked the almost endless commentary on Quaker quilting, it was well researched and definitely preferable to the main character's whining. I was looking forward to the book very much, and while it was well-written in the historical point of view, it was a very unsatisfying read. I wish books didn't take something important and trivialize it to a marginality, but insist that it is "very important". We can see it's not. 3 stars for nostalgia. I received a copy via NetGalley for review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Danby

    Tracy Chevalier is so skilled at getting under the skin of the protagonist in a specific period whether it's a 19th century fossil collector or a 15th century Belgian weaver, you always believe her. Honor Bright is a real person from page 1 of ‘The Last Runaway’ and you are rooting for her. The book tackles a difficult subject: the rights and wrongs of helping escaping slaves, and the moral issue this poses for Ohio’s Quakers. Honor struggles to understand this sometimes frightening new country Tracy Chevalier is so skilled at getting under the skin of the protagonist in a specific period whether it's a 19th century fossil collector or a 15th century Belgian weaver, you always believe her. Honor Bright is a real person from page 1 of ‘The Last Runaway’ and you are rooting for her. The book tackles a difficult subject: the rights and wrongs of helping escaping slaves, and the moral issue this poses for Ohio’s Quakers. Honor struggles to understand this sometimes frightening new country with its huge skies and geometrical roads, forthright people and different social rules. Even the air seems strange. “I feel when I am in it as if the air around me has shifted and is not the same air I breathed and moved in back in England, but is some other substance,” she writes to her parents. Chevalier does her research thoroughly, but feels no need to wave the depth of her research in her reader’s face. Instead it informs every simple description. Woven throughout the book is Honor’s sewing of quilts. Even this is different in Ohio where Honor’s calm nature and precise sewing is admired by the local hat-wearing ladies, but her needle workmanship is deemed overly exact for the local Quaker ladies who prefer to quickly sew appliqué quilts rather than take time to plan traditional patchwork designs. Strong women play a key role in the book. Honor is a strong character, though perhaps she does not know it. Belle Mills, the local milliner is strong too. Honor describes Belle, “If women were meant to look like doves these days, Belle resembled a buzzard.” The quilt Honor most admires is owned and made by Mrs Reed, a small black woman who decorates her hat with fresh wildflowers. Read more about my thoughts on books and writing at www.sandradanby.com

  10. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    Oy! I've enjoyed a couple of Chevalier's other works many years ago. They are light, interesting, fun books to read/listen to. The artistic side of the story adds appeal and interest for me, as I enjoy crafting and the arts, etc. This story, however, seems to miss all the marks. The characters seem flat. Honore is too naïve, despite her sheltered upbringing. She is acting on convictions that we, the readers, can't believe she has...or, if she has them, where she got them from. She shakes at an u Oy! I've enjoyed a couple of Chevalier's other works many years ago. They are light, interesting, fun books to read/listen to. The artistic side of the story adds appeal and interest for me, as I enjoy crafting and the arts, etc. This story, however, seems to miss all the marks. The characters seem flat. Honore is too naïve, despite her sheltered upbringing. She is acting on convictions that we, the readers, can't believe she has...or, if she has them, where she got them from. She shakes at an unkind word, yet defies her family and risks their property and lives, for a conviction. A wonderful thing and something I could endorse but it doesn't seem like something the character, Honore, would do. She's not that strong. Also, the historical aspects of this book, although in the forefront, seem rather like a background story. They are a cheap cover-up for a romance story that doesn't seem plausible. I am on disc 6 of 8 and the story is just beginning, in many ways. The previous section has been all set up, (chaste) lusting and quilts....much, much talk about quilts, fabric, pattern, design and technique. The last two discs may surprise me yet but I'm not hopeful. Well, I finished listening to this today. Nothing changed. This story does not pull the reader in or connects in many ways. It seems to be a shell of a story, with no real detail or substance. I suppose Chevalier is trying to say that Honor had to decide about her life and how to be happy. The story of the runaways and the friendships Honor made were filler; they brought nothing to the story, which is sad. There are some interesting characters in this book but their story doesn't come out. A fluff of a story. Chevalier's other books were enjoyable and fun. This one missed the boat.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    After leaving England, Honor Bright is on her own after the death of her sister soon after they reached the United States. She arrives in Ohio in 1850 with her Quaker religion and her excellent sewing skills, but little else. We see Ohio through the eyes of a newcomer as Honor tries to fit into her new environment. Ohio is at a crossroad with pioneers traveling through to the west, and runaway slaves traveling north to Canada. At that time, many Quakers were involved in the Underground Railroad, After leaving England, Honor Bright is on her own after the death of her sister soon after they reached the United States. She arrives in Ohio in 1850 with her Quaker religion and her excellent sewing skills, but little else. We see Ohio through the eyes of a newcomer as Honor tries to fit into her new environment. Ohio is at a crossroad with pioneers traveling through to the west, and runaway slaves traveling north to Canada. At that time, many Quakers were involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves in their journey to the North. Honor marries into a family who experienced a tragedy when they had helped slaves in North Carolina. Honor is torn between sticking to her beliefs and helping the runaways, or jeopardizing both her new family's safety and their dairy farm. Usually a protective "nesting instinct" kicks in when a woman is just days away from giving birth, so Honor's trek to the next town when she disagreed with her husband's family seemed hard to believe. The author worked historical details about Quakers, slavery, quilting, millinery shops, and farm life into the story in a very readable way. The use of letters sent to her British friend made the reader understand that Honor herself was also running away after an emotional disappointment in England. The end of the book seemed to hold promise that Honor would be running toward a better future. This would be a good bookgroup read. Honor was an engaging character, and it would be interesting to know more about her husband, so I'm hoping Tracy Chevalier writes a sequel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    After being spurned by her fiancé in 1850s England, Quaker Honor Bright accompanies her sister Grace to Ohio, where Grace is to be married. Soon Honor must fend for herself. Feeling unwelcomed by her sister’s fiance and his sister-in-law, Honor marries a local Quaker man and moves to his family's farm, where she also feels unwanted. Against their wishes, Honor becomes involved in assisting runaway slaves. This book was just good enough to keep me reading, but Honor was so judgmental and priggish After being spurned by her fiancé in 1850s England, Quaker Honor Bright accompanies her sister Grace to Ohio, where Grace is to be married. Soon Honor must fend for herself. Feeling unwelcomed by her sister’s fiance and his sister-in-law, Honor marries a local Quaker man and moves to his family's farm, where she also feels unwanted. Against their wishes, Honor becomes involved in assisting runaway slaves. This book was just good enough to keep me reading, but Honor was so judgmental and priggish that I found myself siding with the characters who disliked her--which was almost all of them, including the dog. Yet I don’t think the author realized how fundamentally annoying Honor was. In general, the writing, plot, and characters (most of whom were pretty one-dimensional) felt like a mediocre YA book. The story frequently focuses on Honor’s love of quilting. You have probably guessed that she is a better quilter than anyone else and is unfairly resented for that. Aside from references to Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts, which would have instead been called honeycomb or mosaic quilts in that era (being a know-it-all is contagious), the quilting references seemed to be accurate. There were interesting parts to this book, but it didn’t quite come together.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelagh Rice

    This was such a well written book it's hard to know where to start. Fabulous characters set against the backdrop of the beginning of the end of slavery. Honor Bright the main character, brings us on a journey of her emigration to America, her religion as a Quaker and her battle to please her new family in the continuing injustice of slavery. There are other really strong characters on both sides on the divide during this powerful episode in American history. It covers the underground railway and This was such a well written book it's hard to know where to start. Fabulous characters set against the backdrop of the beginning of the end of slavery. Honor Bright the main character, brings us on a journey of her emigration to America, her religion as a Quaker and her battle to please her new family in the continuing injustice of slavery. There are other really strong characters on both sides on the divide during this powerful episode in American history. It covers the underground railway and the defiance of people in a small community that could lose everything. This however is not a sentimental story, it shows us real people and the impact of their decisions. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sue Fernandez

    I'm not good at doing plot summaries in my reviews, because I'm always afraid I'll give too much away. That being said, I've never read this author, but had the recommendation after reading "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker." I cannot STAND people trying to tell me what I should read to understand slavery, history, etc (I'll make people mad, but I'm thinking about Oprah's book recommendations). But, I often take stands on issues or say I would've taken a stand had I lived in (fill in the blank) era...b I'm not good at doing plot summaries in my reviews, because I'm always afraid I'll give too much away. That being said, I've never read this author, but had the recommendation after reading "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker." I cannot STAND people trying to tell me what I should read to understand slavery, history, etc (I'll make people mad, but I'm thinking about Oprah's book recommendations). But, I often take stands on issues or say I would've taken a stand had I lived in (fill in the blank) era...but who really knows? This book, while working within the plotline of a Quaker young woman, really gave me pause...where do you draw the line with your conscience, what would cause you to rethink that, would you risk your own family for certain causes you come to feel are important? The characters are well written...I won't say much about that, because I feel I'll give information away...but the slave catcher, who you would think you would hate, sort of grows on you...I really wanted them together, oddly, as the book progressed. I literally put it down so that I could prolong the ending, and this is one book on a very, very short list (and I read at least 5 books a week) that I would read again.... I'm still thinking about it, pondering the characters, and wish I knew how the rest of Honor's life turned out after I closed the novel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    One of my favorite authors, I love the historical subjects she picks to write about and she does it brilliantly. In this book she tackles quilting, hat making, the Quakers and the underground railroad. Her writing is so fluid, almost effortless and her characters are so very interesting. I never knew there were so many Quakers here in the states, but I did know their faith kept them from fighting, drinking, and that they strongly believed that everyone was equal. Set in Ohio, many slaves passed One of my favorite authors, I love the historical subjects she picks to write about and she does it brilliantly. In this book she tackles quilting, hat making, the Quakers and the underground railroad. Her writing is so fluid, almost effortless and her characters are so very interesting. I never knew there were so many Quakers here in the states, but I did know their faith kept them from fighting, drinking, and that they strongly believed that everyone was equal. Set in Ohio, many slaves passed through, coming from the South and hopefully making their way to Canada. As I was reading I actually felt as if I knew these people, became invested in their struggles and successes. Although the ending was a bit tidy, I was very satisfied with the resolution. ARC from publisher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandra

    U samo nešto malo više od 200 stranica Tracy je majstorski uspjela napisati savršen roman, sa izvrsno razrađenom radnjom i likovima. Lik mlade kvekerice Honor Bright je tako simpatičan da je nemoguće ostati ravnodušan na njenu životnu sudbinu i ne suosjećati s njom, ali i ostalim likovima i njihovim potresnim sudbinama. Ispod površine naizgled mirnih stanovnika kvekerske zajednice kriju se jako burne strasti i duboka osjećanja, a ta kombinacija mira i nemira daje poseban šarm romanu. Čitala sam U samo nešto malo više od 200 stranica Tracy je majstorski uspjela napisati savršen roman, sa izvrsno razrađenom radnjom i likovima. Lik mlade kvekerice Honor Bright je tako simpatičan da je nemoguće ostati ravnodušan na njenu životnu sudbinu i ne suosjećati s njom, ali i ostalim likovima i njihovim potresnim sudbinama. Ispod površine naizgled mirnih stanovnika kvekerske zajednice kriju se jako burne strasti i duboka osjećanja, a ta kombinacija mira i nemira daje poseban šarm romanu. Čitala sam ranije Djevičanski plavo, isto jako dobar roman, ali moram priznati da me je ovaj puno dublje dotakao i potresao. Chevalier ide na listu meni omiljenih autorica!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    I’ve been an admirer of Tracy Chevalier’s novels, especially Girl with a Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures, so I looked forward to this novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed; this book is not of the caliber I’ve come to expect from this author. The novel is set in the 1850s in Ohio. Honor Bright, a Quaker, leaves England after being jilted and finds herself in Ohio where she struggles to adapt to a new life. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad despite the objections of her hu I’ve been an admirer of Tracy Chevalier’s novels, especially Girl with a Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures, so I looked forward to this novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed; this book is not of the caliber I’ve come to expect from this author. The novel is set in the 1850s in Ohio. Honor Bright, a Quaker, leaves England after being jilted and finds herself in Ohio where she struggles to adapt to a new life. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad despite the objections of her husband and his family. One of the weaknesses is the character of Honor Bright. She tries to be an honourable person but she is not very bright. She is rather dull and bland and judgmental. This last failing she does acknowledge: “Perhaps, Honor thought one day, it is not that Americans are so wedded to individual expression, but that we British are too judgmental” (258). She spends a great deal of time being critical of rocking chairs and American quilting but devotes very little time to getting to know the man she agrees to marry. She knows “She could not go back” (1) but makes little effort to adjust to life in America; she has to be admonished by the two women she most admires to keep “an open mind” (292). Most of the characters are one-dimensional. Donovan, the slave hunter, has the potential to be an interesting character, but he ends up being unbelievable. A runaway refers specifically to him at one point: “’Them slave hunters got a sense makes ‘em good at guessin’ where a runaway is. Otherwise they be out of a job. He’ll turn up again tonight – I can guarantee it’” (251). Nonetheless, he is constantly outwitted by his own sister even though he knows she assists runaways and he frequently watches her home. There is some attempt to use literary devices, but they come across as heavy-handed. For example, after her first sexual experience, which takes place in a cornfield, Honor wonders “if there were snakes nearby; nothing was moving but it was only a matter of time before one appeared” (126). Then her marriage quilt is made for her by women with varying degrees of skill so she begins her married life “under a quilt of dubious quality. It was not an auspicious start” (132). This foreshadowing of problems in the marriage is anything but subtle. One technique I did like is the use of English versus American quilting styles as parallels to Honor’s difficulties in her new country: Honor’s English quilting style is unappreciated by the women in her new community and she is dismissive of American quilting. I looked forward to learning more about Quakers, but the information is sketchy. They are pacifists; they will not lie; they will shun members of their community who marry outside their faith; they dress modestly; they use “thee” in conversation; they believe in the equality of all humans. All of this I knew. The only new thing I learned about the Religious Society of Friends is their attitude to pre-marital sex; perhaps I shouldn’t be skeptical of the research of an author known for her historical fiction, but I intend to do some research to determine if what Chevalier suggests is true. I did appreciate one of the major themes explored in the novel: the difference between principles/religious beliefs and the practice of those principles/beliefs: “When an abstract principle became entangled in daily life, it lost its clarity and became compromised and weakened. Honor did not understand how this could happen, and yet it had: [the family into which she marries] had demonstrated how easy it was to justify stepping back from principles and doing nothing” (227). Quakers believe in the equality of all, but in the religious community to which Honor belongs, not all practice their belief; some choose not to help the slaves fleeing north. This may seem a minor complaint to many, but I was very annoyed with the punctuation. Commas are left out when they are needed – “The day after Comfort was born Belle had sent word to the Haymakers” and put in where not needed – “Honor got that feeling she had when she was sewing together patchwork pieces, and saw that they fit” (259). These problems indicate poor editing. At one point Honor says, “’. . . I do not feel settled. It is as if – as if I am floating above the ground, with my feet not touching’” (290). This is the feeling I had while reading this book. I was not engaged by the characters or the plot. Interestingly, I recently read The Purchase by Linda Spalding, another recent book about the Quakers and slavery. It too was unsatisfactory. Please check out my reader's blog (http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    A really great read - engaging, moving with fascinating historical detail. I would highly recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I really enjoyed this story of Honor Bright - great name! The letters written home painted a picture of the isolation Honor felt in her spirit. When questioned about what she liked and her answer said she found lightning bugs “cheerful and welcoming” it was a clear word picture of her solitude that went beyond the silent times at church. I appreciated the description of Honor’s realization of the background of the cotton fabric that she used. “She had always loved fabric, admiring the weaves and I really enjoyed this story of Honor Bright - great name! The letters written home painted a picture of the isolation Honor felt in her spirit. When questioned about what she liked and her answer said she found lightning bugs “cheerful and welcoming” it was a clear word picture of her solitude that went beyond the silent times at church. I appreciated the description of Honor’s realization of the background of the cotton fabric that she used. “She had always loved fabric, admiring the weaves and patterns and textures, imagining what she could make…Now she understood that much of it was not innocent, unsullied material, but the result of a compromised world.” The former slave (Mrs. Reed) remarks about, “Abolitionists got lots o’ theories, but I’m livin’ with realities” was a powerful use of words. Honor chose to follow her own conscience and that isolated her even more from most of the people surrounding her. She did what little she could. “Is it worse to have no principles, or principles you cannot then uphold?” This book was not full of information about the underground railroad. I don’t believe that was the author’s purpose. It was rich with emotional responses in the lives of those who knew slavery to be wrong and made choices often based on practicality and not on principles. I loved the author’s statement about “When an abstract principle becomes entangled in daily life, it lost its clarity and became compromised and weakened. …the Haymakers had demonstrated how easy it was to justify stepping back from principles and doing nothing. …She felt so confused by the gap between what she thought and what was expected of her that she could not speak. …Silence was a powerful tool… Perhaps now it would allow Honor to be heard.” I felt this turn of the story to be perfect in the way it was written. I also enjoyed her comparisons of British and American buildings and America having a “flimsiness of community, a feeling that no one has been there long.” Honor desired the feeling of being settled and fitting into place. The ending was perfect. I will not give it away but I felt it tied together the story and resolved many of the problems. I would like to give this book a five star. I have chosen to give it 4 stars only because I felt there was one short part of the story that was unnecessary and didn't fit. It was the part of the story that happened in the cornfield. The book had wonderful development of characters and perfect use of imagery. I enjoyed it and liked that it had an element of making me ponder if I live according to principles and convictions or just do what I see others doing? I like books that leave me thinking.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    Great book! My third book in as many months on the subject of slavery. Here we have young Honour Bright and her sister Grace who are English Quakers. Honour is let down by her suitor who marries someone else outside of the faith. When Grace decides to follow her young man and join him in Ohio Honour goes too. Due to fever Honour is left alone in a strange country where the Quakers condemn slavery whilst living amongst it. Her own principles do not allow her to turn away runaways as many of the Am Great book! My third book in as many months on the subject of slavery. Here we have young Honour Bright and her sister Grace who are English Quakers. Honour is let down by her suitor who marries someone else outside of the faith. When Grace decides to follow her young man and join him in Ohio Honour goes too. Due to fever Honour is left alone in a strange country where the Quakers condemn slavery whilst living amongst it. Her own principles do not allow her to turn away runaways as many of the Americans do. She meets others who risk everything to help strangers particularly a single woman by the name of Belle whose own brother is a slave catcher. Honour must decide whether to help or turn away and this means she comes into conflict with her new community. This is Tracy Chevalier at her best - and I have read many of her books. Her attention to detail and her ability to lead you into the heart of the protagonist keeps you reading. As an English woman who has lived in the US I found so many of her observations of the differences between the 2 cultures to still be relevant now as they were during the 19th century. Belle is a pivotal character who lives alone, has a successful business and risks it all over and over for strangers. There are others who live along the 'Underground railroad' and one of the most touching moments is when 2 of these women meet. They have been passing runaways along without ever meeting eachother, one is black and the other is white, Belle. Meanwhile as Honour's world slowly disintegrates it is only Belle who reaches out to her, who sees her grief over her sister and her homeland and her confusion over her ideas and reality. There is of course more to the reasons why some wont help and this is revealed for one family as the story goes on and shows that it is not so simple as thought at first. Like those who hid Jews those who are caught assisting slaves suffered greatly. Good book, well-written and researched, keeps you totally caught up in the story, thought-provoking!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marg

    From the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, I was expecting a good historical read and I wasn't disappointed. Set in Ohio in the 1850s, the novel tells the story of Honour Bright, a Quaker, who leaves England and travels to the New World accompanying her sister Grace who is to be married. However, tragedy strikes and leaves her alone in an unfamiliar land where she must depend on the kindness of strangers. She joins a Quaker community there, marries and is known for her quilting abi From the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, I was expecting a good historical read and I wasn't disappointed. Set in Ohio in the 1850s, the novel tells the story of Honour Bright, a Quaker, who leaves England and travels to the New World accompanying her sister Grace who is to be married. However, tragedy strikes and leaves her alone in an unfamiliar land where she must depend on the kindness of strangers. She joins a Quaker community there, marries and is known for her quilting ability. The Quakers are opposed in principle to slavery, but it is Honour who shows them the courage to defy the law and help the slaves who are fleeing north via the Underground Railroad, helped by this network of people who were sympathetic to the plight of fugitive slaves. This is a wonderful story of strong females, courage, friendship, defiance, freedom and slave hunters as well as quilts, bonnets, quilting frolics, milliners and Quakers. It is historical fiction at its best and was an enjoyable read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Gostei bastante deste livro. Conta-nos a história de uma rapariga que viaja de Inglaterra para a América numa altura em que a escravatura ainda existia mas já existiam muitas opiniões no sentido de acabar com ela e auxiliar os escravos que fugiam dos seus donos para poderem chegar a sítios onde pudessem ser livres

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Reese

    The power of this book is quite subtle. The year is 1850 and 20-year-old Honor Bright is traveling with her sister, Grace, from Bridport in England across the Atlantic ocean to New York and then on to Ohio. I thought the story was going to be about one set of things, but [author] Tracy Chevalier went in some different directions. Her recipe for this story combines research into Quaker beliefs, practices and lifestyles with issues surrounding the abolition of slavery, The Fugitive Slave Act, 19th The power of this book is quite subtle. The year is 1850 and 20-year-old Honor Bright is traveling with her sister, Grace, from Bridport in England across the Atlantic ocean to New York and then on to Ohio. I thought the story was going to be about one set of things, but [author] Tracy Chevalier went in some different directions. Her recipe for this story combines research into Quaker beliefs, practices and lifestyles with issues surrounding the abolition of slavery, The Fugitive Slave Act, 19th century English and American quilts, and elements of how the Underground Railroad functioned. Many of the chapters are named for things which may have featured prominently in the natural world and culture in the state of Ohio in the 1850s, i.e. "Bonnets", "Sugaring", "Fever", "Water"---often signifying double or multiple meanings much like the hidden language of the Underground Railroad or the visual language stitched in quilts. Inserted between chapters are letters of correspondence amongst characters that transition the storyline, vary the tone, and provide elements of backstory....but didn't reveal much personality in the process: the opinions are polite and well thought-out, journalistically expressed with perfect syntax and spelling (---no flavor!) The characters were engaging but sometimes seemed to be ventriloquist dolls voicing and acting out the historical issues of the time and place. I enjoyed the role that SILENCE played in this book, as well as how much the story is driven by the actions of strong women. I would be curious to know if Quakers are/were so exquisitely somber and barely capable of playfulness and laughter. Don't get me wrong, though, this is not a depressing read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the story of Englishwoman Honor Bright who joins her to-be-wed sister, Grace, to voyage across the ocean and settle in Ohio. Grace dies from yellow fever on the journey from New York to Ohio leaving Honor, unexpected with Grace's intended as well as his newly widowed sister-in-law. The town of Faithwell, Ohio is a peaceful and unwelcoming Quaker town. The Quaker leaders are uncomfortable with Adam Cox (Grace's fiancee) living with two single women so encourage him to marry Abigail. Honor This is the story of Englishwoman Honor Bright who joins her to-be-wed sister, Grace, to voyage across the ocean and settle in Ohio. Grace dies from yellow fever on the journey from New York to Ohio leaving Honor, unexpected with Grace's intended as well as his newly widowed sister-in-law. The town of Faithwell, Ohio is a peaceful and unwelcoming Quaker town. The Quaker leaders are uncomfortable with Adam Cox (Grace's fiancee) living with two single women so encourage him to marry Abigail. Honor is then encouraged to marry Jack Haymaker, a young man who is smitten by her. The story than progresses to Honor's discovery of the Underground Railroad which crosses the Haymaker farm and the resulting conflict with her new family. My disappointment in this book results from the lack of information about the Underground Railroad, quilting of the era and a subdued feeling for the entire story. Being that almost all the characters in the book are Quaker, I can allow for the quietness of the book, but it was not a page-turner for me. I was really hoping to close the book more knowledgeable about the Underground Railroad and how it operated, but alas that was not to be. In regards to the quilts (comforts), they are a big part of this story, but alas again, there is little information given about their history or methods other than frequent complaining by Honor about the inferiority of applique quilts to her own pieced quilts. What I did respect about this story was the Author's refusal to make Honor a cliche strong female. Honor fights her battle with Quaker methods, at one point with silence. I thought this made the story feel more authentic as few Quaker women would have had the brashness to totally buck the system.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    THE LAST RUNAWAY In 1850, Honor Bright, an English Quaker, accompanied her sister, Grace, to the United States. Grace is to be married to a man from their hometown who is now living near Oberlin, Ohio. Honor was to have been married in England, but the wedding was cancelled. When she arrives, her plans abruptly changed and she finds herself having to depend on strangers. The unfamiliar landscape and different lifestlyle cause her much distress, even when she finds a home in a Quaker community. W THE LAST RUNAWAY In 1850, Honor Bright, an English Quaker, accompanied her sister, Grace, to the United States. Grace is to be married to a man from their hometown who is now living near Oberlin, Ohio. Honor was to have been married in England, but the wedding was cancelled. When she arrives, her plans abruptly changed and she finds herself having to depend on strangers. The unfamiliar landscape and different lifestlyle cause her much distress, even when she finds a home in a Quaker community. While her sewing talent is valued, to a degree, she finds living on a farm demands different skills. (There is a lot of description about making quilts and hats.) Oberlin, a little southwest of Cleveland and Lake Erie, was a major stop on the Underground Railway and runaway slaves play a major part in the story. Even within the Quaker community, there are mixed feelings about how much, if at all, the slaves should be assisted since the law supported the right for bounty hunters to hunt them and take them back to their masters. I was very disappointed in this book. There was some repetition: How many times do we need to read about the stone buildings in England and the wooden ones in the US or the different quilt styles in both countries. The Bethlehem Star is mentioned frequently. My biggest complaint, though, is that I expected to learn more about slaves and the Underground Railway. They are a large part of the story, but it isn’t a major focus until almost halfway through the book. I hope Tracy Chevalier writes more books of the GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING quality in the future.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arwen56

    L’argomento sarebbe anche stato interessante, ovvero un pezzo di storia americana, attorno al 1850, narrata da una quacchera, giunta da poco nel nuovo paese dall’Inghilterra, che, come i suoi correligionari in generale, è contraria alla schiavitù e si adopera per favorire la fuga delle persone di colore verso il Canada, scontrandosi per questo motivo sia con la legge, sia con la famiglia del marito. Tuttavia, il tenore della narrazione è piuttosto inconsistente, ripetitivo, monotono, superficial L’argomento sarebbe anche stato interessante, ovvero un pezzo di storia americana, attorno al 1850, narrata da una quacchera, giunta da poco nel nuovo paese dall’Inghilterra, che, come i suoi correligionari in generale, è contraria alla schiavitù e si adopera per favorire la fuga delle persone di colore verso il Canada, scontrandosi per questo motivo sia con la legge, sia con la famiglia del marito. Tuttavia, il tenore della narrazione è piuttosto inconsistente, ripetitivo, monotono, superficiale e poco convincente. Più che un romanzo, sembra un collage di nozioni storiche raccolte alla bell’e meglio, tenuto assieme da una improbabile cornice, che annovera, tra l’altro, un’irrisolta attrazione della protagonista proprio nei confronti di un cacciatore di schiavi fuggiti ai rispettivi proprietari. I personaggi non hanno alcuno spessore psicologico, bensì paiono semplici pedine spostate a proprio piacimento da Tracy Chevalier sulla scacchiera da lei stessa creata. A mio modesto avviso, siamo ben lontani da “La ragazza con l’orecchino di perla”.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shomeret

    The protagonist Honor Bright is a very principled Quaker. She is surrounded by other Quakers all of whom are opposed to slavery. Yet not all of them are willing to act on their principles. I feel that this is the central theme of The Last Runaway. Why are so many people afraid or unwilling to take a stand? Should they be judged for their inaction? When it comes to an important issue such as slavery, there were consequences for both action and inaction which are fully illustrated in this book. I The protagonist Honor Bright is a very principled Quaker. She is surrounded by other Quakers all of whom are opposed to slavery. Yet not all of them are willing to act on their principles. I feel that this is the central theme of The Last Runaway. Why are so many people afraid or unwilling to take a stand? Should they be judged for their inaction? When it comes to an important issue such as slavery, there were consequences for both action and inaction which are fully illustrated in this book. I found this book compelling and provocative. It gave me a more complex view of 19th century Quakers. For my complete review see http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/...

  28. 4 out of 5

    MaryannC.Book Fiend

    OMGOSH!! I absolutely loved this story of a young Quaker girl named Honor Bright who journeys from England to Ohio to start her life anew. I was enthralled by this story and it's characters. Tracy Chevalier captured the voices of The Old South with the hope of the runaway slaves Honor encounters seeking freedom, to Honor Bright's inner turmoil learning the ways of a new country she does not understand. It was very descriptive and heartfelt. This one earns a place among my Favorites List!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stan Georgiana

    Nota corectă: 3.8 Un singur lucru am de spus: Dacă aş bea un shot de fiecare dată când aş citi cuvântul matale, m-aş face praf. Iar eu sunt din Moldova.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I'd give this book a 3.5, were it possible, but a 4 would be a stretch. The reason for my markdown is not because of the story, nor even the characters or imagery, all of which I found perfectly compelling, but because I couldn't believe that the publisher let this book go to press in its current state. The accumulation of flaws, which were purely technical, gave the book the feel of a second draft with great potential. 1). Call me particular, but the number of be verbs per page--not to mention t I'd give this book a 3.5, were it possible, but a 4 would be a stretch. The reason for my markdown is not because of the story, nor even the characters or imagery, all of which I found perfectly compelling, but because I couldn't believe that the publisher let this book go to press in its current state. The accumulation of flaws, which were purely technical, gave the book the feel of a second draft with great potential. 1). Call me particular, but the number of be verbs per page--not to mention the opening paragraph--stagger my mind. How can it be? Chevalier is a seasoned author! By page fourteen, I began to count them: twenty or more was/weres per page, page after page. Good heavens! It's never a good thing to find yourself doing the mental flip from reader to editor, but I grew more and more distracted as I thought of better ways to compose each sentence. 2). The author's "research is showing," meaning she has done all her homework but has failed to fully integrate the historical information in a way that feels natural. On at least three separate occasions she expounds in great detail about the differences between American and English quilting, nearly word for word the exact argument. Someone should have noticed and struck out the repetition. Also, the characters often speechify about abolition, hatmaking, railroads, etc. in ways that feel far too author convenient. In other words, "I need the reader to know this stuff, so I'll just have the characters discuss it, even though they would have ordinarily known it." Lastly, Chevalier beats to death the various ways in which Americans differ culturally from their English counterparts. Only once does she suggest that American bluntness may be the byproduct of a pioneering lifestyle. The rest of the time most Americans are depicted as rude and overbearing, while the English temper is shown as far superior. The constant comparison grows tiresome. 3). Honor, who spends most of her time puzzling about her place within a new culture, makes incredible leaps of understanding about other characters' intents. [The cornfield scene comes to mind.] There simply aren't enough physical and verbal cues coming from other characters to guide her, let alone the reader, to draw certain key conclusions. Worse, the reader rarely knows what Honor is really thinking and feeling until the final third of the book. She's reticent and private, sure, but that reticence ought to be directed more outwardly than inwardly, where the reader has access to her thoughts. 4). I'm a fan of letters as a device to break up the monotony of the narrative, but in this case, Honor's letters home place the reader at an uncomfortable remove. She describes her feelings in these letters, but rarely to herself. This makes her seem inconsistent. Furthermore, she uses letters to narrate events that have happened offstage, events that might have been better off simply SHOWN. Then, in the next chapter, the author rewinds and shows the event in real time anyway, making the letter seem redundant and pointless. 5). The author frequently opens scenes with an omniscient "if only Honor had known that this would happen..." kind of statement, as opposed to simply placing us directly inside the action; then she rewinds and shows the action anyway. The reader feels jerked back and forth in time, which again pulls one out of the groove of the book. 6). Honor's husband remains a cipher from beginning to end. I would have preferred him to have shown a lot more backbone and uniqueness. The reader never really understands, for instance, what sparks Honor's interest in him, never mind his interest in her. Her lust for him seems too flat, too convenient for the plot. Overall, most of Chevalier's characters and her plot(especially the last third) held my interest, but from beginning to end I had to resist reaching for a red pen. It might have been a really good book as opposed to only an average one if she had given it another revision....and that's such a shame.

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