Tag: Tracy Chevalier

Jun 09

Bite Size Reviews: June 2017

Bite Size Reviews 6

Hello You Beautiful Bookworms!

I have been doing all the reading and none of the blogging. It’s a pattern lately. But, you know. There were flowers to plant and a baby to grow and books to read. But I’m here to talk about some books today. Wahoo! These are going to be quick little Bite Size Reviews, and they were supposed to be published in May. It’s a good thing I’m not accepting many books for review from publishers right now because I have no schedule of any kind. I’m just flying by the seat of my maternity pants.

ONE: At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier- Over the years I’ve enjoyed many a Tracy Chevalier novel. She typically incorporates a historical personage or piece of art at least tangentially in the narrative, and this was no exception. Historical fiction about an apple orchard would be incomplete without mention of John Chapman AKA Johnny Appleseed, no? The fellow himself indeed makes a cameo or two, but the bulk of the narrative focuses on the plight of the Goodenough family. It’s an enjoyable read, if you like melancholy historical fiction sent in log cabin era America.

TWO: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella- Oh Sophie Kinsella. You are just an utter delight. It took me ages to pick up one of her books, but they’re always quirky and fun, if implausible. They’re the perfect “I need to read something adorable” book to cure the “If I read another sad book I’m going to lose my marbles” feeling. Career girl trying to make it in London slowly comes to realize that her rural roots aren’t anything to be ashamed of. Plus love and silliness and glamping. It’s one of her most recent offerings, and one of the best of hers I’ve read.

THREE: The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig- Okay, you guys. TIME TRAVELLING PIRATES: THE SEQUEL. Remember all my squawking about how much I loved The Girl from Everywhere (review)? This is the followup, and I kid you not, it is EVEN BETTER. I love, love, loved it. Do yourself a favor and get them both, okay?

FOUR: Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery- I was running low on Kindle books so I decided to pull up the third installment of Anne of Green Gables (review). Will Anne ever not be a delight? Despite their having a chaperone and, you know, having to do old timey housekeeping, this book reminded me so much of my college days. Specifically, the two years I spent living with roommates in an apartment, playing at being grown ups. Anne and company’s shenanigans were minimal compared with ours, but that cozy feeling of chilling with your besties and putting together a jigsaw puzzle? Palpable in this novel. Plus, you know. The whole Gilbert affair. Swooooooooooon.

I think that’s quite enough for now, don’t you? Tell me, Bookworms, what is on your summer reading list?

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Jan 31

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Historical Fiction 23

Hello My Bookworms!

I had a hankering for some historical fiction, so I decided I needed to check out Tracy Chevalier’s new novel, The Last Runaway. Our heroine, Honor Bright, is a Quaker. It’s the 1850s and she’s been jilted by her fiance in England. Her sister, Grace, is heading off to the USA to meet up with her fiance and get married, so she invites Honor to join her. New world, new start, right? Unfortunately, Honor’s new start is inauspicious- she’s hideously seasick the entire trip, and almost as soon as they hit land, Honor’s sister gets some new world ailment and dies. (It’s seriously SO Oregon Trail.) Honor is stuck in a new country with her dead sister’s fiance and no idea what to do with herself.


Honor ends up in Ohio, and in the 1850s, Ohio is a pretty rugged place. It’s also a haven for the Underground Railroad. Slavery was still running rampant in the southern states. Ohio, being where it is geographically, had a lot of runaway slaves traipsing through the woods. As Quakers, Honor and her crew are anti-slavery. Unfortunately, it was dangerous to be an abolitionist. You were breaking all kinds of ugly laws to aid runaway slaves, which put Quakers in a moral pickle. Honor struggles to figure out what her place is in this new country, while wrestling with her moral convictions. It’s the perfect setting for a little drama on the frontier… And some sexy bonnets.

All of Chevalier’s novels that I’ve read thus far have had a major artistic undercurrent. The Virgin Blue and The Girl With The Pearl Earring made the artistic connection through paintings, while Burning Bright used the poetry of Robert Blake. The Last Runaway was all about the glory of the quilt. I really dug the idea of quilting as an art. Throughout the book, Honor not only takes comfort in her own sewing, but also in a signature quilt her family and friends gave to her when she left England. The quilt wasn’t simply stitched together by her community, it also included notes of encouragement to wish her well on her journey. Isn’t that a beautiful tradition? Wouldn’t that make a fantastic wedding gift? Prepare yourself to be jealous because… I totally got a signature quilt as a wedding gift!


Beautiful, right?!

Jim’s hometown, while not being a quaint Quaker village, is the sort of place where people make friends with their neighbors. Sometimes those neighbors are amazingly talented quilters who like to make really nice gifts! We had the signature squares set out at my bridal shower so the guests could leave us good luck notes. I like to think Honor got to look at messages like this when she was feeling down:


The Last Runaway will appeal to lovers of historical fiction, people who like reading about abolitionists, anybody who likes quilting, and everyone who has ever wanted to decorate their plain boring bonnet. It was an easy, enjoyable read. I wouldn’t say it was a novel that changed my life or anything, but it was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Since Honor’s signature quilt represents her ties to home, let’s get sentimental. What is the most meaningful thing you own that reminds you of your metaphorical “roots”?