Tracy Chevalier is perhaps best known for her book The Girl With the Pearl Earring, about the girl in the famous painting by the same name. Her latest book, The Last Runaway, also combines memorable characters and a fictional story weaved with historical detail.
The story centers on an English Quaker girl named Honor who is involved in the Underground Railroad. She leaves bread and food for the slaves running to freedom, but it is dangerous because it’s against the law, and people have been fined, jailed, and lost their homes for helping the slaves.
When reading books like this, I’m always struck by how few choices women had back then. They were at the mercy of men and society, and this story is no different. Honor comes to America with her sister and shortly after arriving here her much more outgoing sister dies. Honor is forced to figure out her own path, and this restlessness mimicked the American spirit to me.
The women characters are especially strong in this book, and the details on quilting will be of particular interest to anyone who does needlework today. I think this is good read for a book club discussion or just for enjoyment.