I stand in appreciation of Tracy Chevalier’s talent and have read almost all of her books. However, this is the first time I have listened to one of Chevalier’s books. I was not sure if this was going to add to or detract from my fondness for Chevalier’s writing or my enjoyment. Glad to report that listening to the book was just as good as reading it. In fact the narration by Kate Reading brought an entirely new dimension to the experience. Reading’s narration, pace and accents brought more life to the book then I would bring to it on my own.
Chevalier covers a different snippet of history in each of her books. But it is the way that she does it which I find unique and wonderful. A few chapters in to her books I wonder how she pitches these books but then I am so thankful for the person on the other side of the pitch that recognizes its place.
Do not expect any shoot ‘em up big budget style action. These are just slices of life and the historical time serves as the backdrop. Chevalier develops her characters in order to highlight the historical topic of the book but the balance is genius. In this case it is the underground railway for black slaves with a peek into the lives of Quakers.
Honor Bright, a Quaker, tags along with her sister on the journey from England to Ohio in 1850. Her sister Grace is going to be wed and Honor is hoping for a change and some adventure. But she did not realize how different and alone she would be in America.
Honor is surprised by the prejudice that exists in this new country that felt unfair to her and her Quaker beliefs. Honor’s life takes a number of twists and turns as she struggles to find her footing but helping the slaves to gain their freedom joining the Underground Railroad is the one ideal that comes easiest to her.
Chevalier’s characters are front and center and I so appreciate her care developing them plus the historical backdrop which I so appreciate. When I finish her novels I feel as if I have made new friends and been educated about a time and place that I now have an appreciation for.
I strongly recommend picking up one of Chevalier’s books. If you are still on the fence why not try THE LAST RUNAWAY audiobook as the writing coupled with the narration of Kate Reading will transport you to another time and place in America. Incidentally this is Chevalier’s first foray into American history.