Friday, February 22, 2013
The Last Runaway
Most recently I read The Last Runaway and it did not disappoint. Oddly, the book about a young immigrant woman was built around two Q-motifs that have been important in my own life: Quilts and Quakerism.
Set prior to the Civil War, The Last Runaway is the story of Honor Bright, who leaves England for America, accompanying her sister Grace who is to be married in Ohio; once there Honor becomes aware of American slavery and runaway slaves. The Quaker context is important; Honor and most of those around her are Friends, but their Quaker ethics are complicated by personal circumstances. Honor is an avid quilter and there is a lot in the book about the differences in quilting styles between England and America, and also a reference to a Gees Bend type of quilt that catches her eye.
A few of the characters are well-developed, but not all. Interspersed among the chapters are letters Honor has written back to England; they add to the details of life in that time and place. I liked the details about the millinery shop.
This was a good book, not a great book, a couple of notches above Jennifer Chiaverini's efforts. There might be interesting discussion about runaways, living one's ethics when one's wellbeing is at risk, things that begin and end in cornfields, and whether there is symbolism in the quilts. I believe I would give it a "B."
Posted by Nancy Stevens on Friday, February 22, 2013