Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Honor, an English Quaker, is going with her sister Grace to America. Grace is going to marry Adam Cox. The voyage was horrible for Honor.  She vomited the whole trip. They reached America and started their trip to Ohio. Grace caught yellow fever and died.
Honor gets close to Faithwell where Adam lives. She learns that Adam's brother has died from illness. Adam did not get her letter telling him that Grace died. She is staying with a milliner named Belle in Wellington, Ohio. Belle decides that Honor needs a few days to relax before joining Adam.  Belle learns that Honor can sew.  Honor loves to quilt.  Belle needs some help sewing hats for her customers.  They become friends even though Belle is not a Quaker.
Adam comes to get Honor and they go to his home. Abigail, Adam's sister-in-law is not very welcoming to Honor.  Honor must get along with her because she has to where to go.  After a few months the Elders in the church tell Adam that their living situation is undesirable, even though nothing is happening.  Adam and Abigail marry and things get more difficult for Honor.
Jack Haymaker is interested in Honor.  They marry and she comes to live at their family farm.  Runaway slaves are always around.  Honor is compelled to help them even though the Haymakers forbid her to help them.  This causes problems. What is to become of Honor?  Will she continue to help the runaway slaves?

I really enjoyed this story.  I often wonder what I would have done in this situation.

From the author's site:
Honor Bright is a modest English Quaker with a broken heart. Emigrating to Ohio with her sister in the hope of making a new life, she soon discovers that 19th-century America hard, precarious place to live. Its people are practical and unsentimental, its climate challenging. Even its quilts are different from those she makes. Moreover, it is divided by slavery, legal in southern states and opposed by many northerners.
One day a runaway slave appears in the farmyard of Honor’s new family, and she must decide what to do. Even Quakers - famed for championing human equality - may hesitate to break the laws of the land. Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network of people helping runaways escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who demonstrate what defiance can achieve. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.
For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 305
Published: 2013

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