The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Once again Chevalier has taken me into a time in history about which I knew very little. Set in a time when the abolitionist movement was gaining ground Chevalier uses her novel to expose the conflicting values faced by many compassionate but law abiding people, especially the peace loving Quakers. In creating a world full of sounds, smells, sights and textures, Chevalier brings alive her characters without once making me feel I am in a history class. Her gently developed and aptly named protagonist, Honor Bright, (for she does have honour and is extremely bright!) is immediately likable. She leaves her Dorset family after the shame of a broken betrothed and heads into an alien world on the other side of the Atlantic. Chevalier explores how being a part of the Quaker community both nurtured and estranged Honor as she wrestled with her ethical and spiritual values to protect the lives of escapee slaves as they make their way to freedom in Canada.
Jennifer is a writer of short stories, novels and a family history.