Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Review: Chevalier's latest novel disappoints

"The Last Runaway" (Dutton), by Tracy Chevalier

Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

"The Last Runaway" (Dutton), by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier's "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which brought Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer to life, has become a near-classic in contemporary historical fiction. And her latest novel, "The Last Runaway," takes on similarly fascinating and little-known subject matter - the Quakers' role in the Underground Railroad during the mid-1800s.

Heroine Honor Bright leaves England for America, settles in Ohio and becomes intimately involved in the movement - helping runaway slaves reach freedom. Sounds great, right? But despite this compelling fictional backdrop, Chevalier's storytelling just doesn't do it justice.

Bright, despite her name, is anything but. Her character is flat and dull and spends much of her time longing for home, harshly judging her new American friends and family and talking about how she really shouldn't be complaining about it. This criticism seems all the more confusing when we learn that Chevalier intended her latest novel as her "love letter home." (She's made her home in England for nearly 30 years.) The rest of the characters are similarly unsympathetic and undeveloped.

And the quilting. Clearly, the discussion of quilting - the patterns, the styles, the methods - is intended as a motif to carry the reader seamlessly through the story. Instead, it feels obvious, annoying and overdone.

That said, it's a quick read as Chevalier's writing is solid and compelling. "The Last Runaway" remains a page turner as readers are anxiously waiting for something to happen. But when things do happen, the action seems trite and well-trodden.

---

Online:

http://www.tchevalier.com/

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Enter to win!

Enter to win!

Share a photo of your holiday lights display and you may win a $100 Home Depot gift card.

Advertising

Advertising

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984

Autos news and research

New 3-wheelers merge fun and safety

New 3-wheelers merge fun and safety


Advertising