Sunday, March 02, 2014

The last runaway by Tracy Chevalier


The book for tomorrow’s book club at Panera’s in Clintonville  is "The last runaway," by Tracy Chevalier, author of “Girl with a pearl earring." I'm not a huge fan of fiction, but I know a little about American history (Ohio in 1850), women and Quakers.  (I did a lot of research on women writers in Ohio for agriculture magazines in the 19th century.)  And I must say, this is the dumbest plot and poorest character development I've read in recent years. The author has created a female, 19th century immigrant who puts hiding slaves above her safety, her family, her pregnancy and her religion, but she isn't brave enough to return to England because she got seasick on the trip over.

The only thing comparable in our era to this kind of devotion to a cause would be an anti-abortion non-feminist who suddenly sees the light, or perhaps a tree hugger Baptist who burns down her grandmother’s house in order to make a point, and even then it wouldn't be believable. And as is customary in a plot that has both black and white characters, only the blacks have any sense and can walk and chew gum at the same time.

There are also a couple of love scenes as believable as romance novels—not exactly bodice rippers, but unnecessary and unrealistic if you’ve ever tried to walk through a corn field, let alone make love in one.

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