The Last Runaway

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Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape. Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality. However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.

My opinion: This is my third Tracy Chevalier book of the year and it’s another cracker! Chevalier’s latest release is another historical fiction offering featuring quilts, quakers and a British girl called Honor who emigrates with her sister to America to start a new life.

The writing is once again wonderful in this book and the imagery very vivid. We meet lots of different characters in this book, and Honor faces tragedy and meets some new friends on her journey. The central story to this book is about slavery and the things that people did to help black people pass through Ohio and onto a better life whilst most people just looked the other way. To me, the relationships that were formed in the story were just as important, both good and bad, and also the realisation from Honor that life isn’t all black and white.

Another great book and I look forward to discovering more of Chevalier’s work.

My rating: Four stars

I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Originally reviewed at Reading in Progress.

Falling Angels

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An elegant, daring, original, and compelling novel, set against a gaslit backdrop of social and political turbulence in early twentieth-century London, Falling Angels draws a picture of family life that exposes the prejudices and flaws of a changing time.

My opinion: This was my second foray into reading Chevalier’s work and it was just as good as the first!

This book is set just post-Victorian era following the death of Queen Victoria and we follow it right through to the rallies held in London by the Suffragettes. The story is told from a number of characters’ points of views and we meet a number of people along the way.

The detail of this book is brilliant, and I liked the fact that it was based around the subject of death, something that the Victorians treated very differently to how we do today. However, it is not morbid or dark in any way. It just shows a different view of life and how people dealt with it back then.

The descriptions were really evocative without being overly wordy and the characters were all really well developed, even if some were a little infuriating!

Chevalier is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and I would definitely recommend her to fans of Sarah Waters.

My rating: Five stars

Originally reviewed at Reading in Progress

Girl with a Pearl Earring

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Winner of the 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award! Alex Award winner! Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings. History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius…even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.

My opinion: I downloaded this book to my Kindle after seeing it in one of the winter sales. I was a little bit apprehensive about whether I would get on with this book as I can struggle with historical fiction set in this period. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the book as it was a fantastic read!

It is set in 17th Century Holland, but it does not feel overly old fashioned in the way it is written and really drags you into the life of the main character, Griet. The author has based this story on a real painting by Johannes Vermeer and has built up an amazing fictional account of how the painting came to be created.

The language in the story is fantastic. It is not overly wordy, yet paints a vivid picture in the readers mind, bringing to life the painters art through the art of writing. I would definitely recommend this book and will go back to read it again at some point.

My rating: Five stars

Originally reviewed at Reading in Progress

Birthday book haul

It was my birthday this week and I thought I would share with you my book haul!

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As you can see I had lots of books! Around half of the books are presents of books that I haven’t read yet, and the other half are books I bought myself for my birthday that I have read on my Kindle and just had to have a paperback copy of! Does anyone else do this?

The only problem is now, I have no space left on my bookshelves and this is even before you add my four TBR piles into the mix! Do you have book storage problems too?