Ohio, fleeing slaves in 1850
focus of ‘The Last Runaway’
Tracy Chevalier was multitasking in August 2010 when she came to the Hudson Library and Historical Society. Though her appearance was to talk about her 2009 book Remarkable Creatures, she was in Hudson to research her next book, The Last Runaway. She praised the society’s resources and staff and asked for advice on Western Reserve locations, especially Peninsula, from her obliging audience.
Honor Bright is the main character of The Last Runaway. A young Quaker woman, she’s leaving England in 1850 to accompany her sister, Grace, to their new home near Oberlin, where Grace is to marry Adam Cox. When Grace dies of yellow fever in Hudson, Honor is left to find her own fortune. Honor, violently seasick during the voyage, feels equally at sea in Ohio, where she earns the unwelcome attention of Donovan, a rough-cut slave catcher determined to round up fugitives.
Instead of the vast opportunities of the American frontier, Honor feels the oppression of the wilderness closing in on her, and little welcome from the Friends in her new home. Oberlin already has become a center of the abolitionist movement, and Honor gradually becomes aware of the runaway slaves who skirt by in the woods, looking for food and guidance. She knows that as a Quaker, she cannot condone slavery, but in September the Fugitive Slave Act is passed, making it a crime for her to assist.
In addition to details on the operation of the Underground Railroad and a description of life in antebellum Ohio, Chevalier’s story includes nice touches like Honor’s delight at eating her first tender, sweet ear of corn and her reflections at the differences between English patchwork quilts and American applique (a skilled needlewoman, Honor feels that applique is taking the easy way out).
The Last Runaway (305 pages, hardcover) costs $26.95 from Dutton.
Tracy Chevalier will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the 1842 First Church, mentioned in the story, 106 N. Main St., Oberlin, and at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Berlin Heights Public Library, 4 E. Main St. Her talk Thursday at Hudson Library, 96 Library St., is sold out, but she will sign in the library’s rotunda after the 7 p.m. program. She will make more Northeast Ohio appearances next week.
Mom writes of son’s survival after fire
When her son, Nick DeWalt, was badly burned in a 2010 garage fire at his Greentown home, Maryanne Shaw began posting on her blog to keep relatives and friends informed about his treatment. She’s compiled those posts and added later observations to produce a book called The 9 Week Miracle: A Son’s Incredible Survival Story.
Nick was taken to the renowned burn unit at Akron Children’s Hospital, where doctors estimated he would be a patient for months. Instead, his skin graft surgeries and therapy were so successful that he was released after only 20 days. Shaw recounts the support of friends, like fundraisers to help with expenses and the church members who rebuilt Nick’s garage.
The 9 Week Miracle (139 pages, softcover) costs $17.95 from online retailers. Shaw will speak at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Stark County District Library, Lake Community 11955 Market Ave. N., Uniontown. Registration suggested; call 330-877-9975.
Goat farmer has picture book
Pamela Slabaugh, who raises dairy goats in Wooster and uses their milk to make caramel under the name “Sugar Nanny,” and illustrator Sandra Stephens, a fellow goat farmer from Georgia, have written a picture book called Tilly the Goat Princess, about dainty Princess Chantilly Lace, who wears pearls and has pedicured hooves.
The 13-page softcover book costs $15.99 from online retailers. Slabaugh, accompanied by caramel samples and goats Princess Grace and Princess Daisy, will talk about goat care and sign her book at 10 a.m. Saturday at Tractor Supply, 4166 Burbank Road, Wooster.
Dover Public Library (525 N. Walnut St.) — Howard Shapiro signs his graphic novel The Stereotypical Freaks, 6 p.m. Monday; Berit McMillan signs her memoir Becoming Berit, 10 a.m. Saturday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Green branch, 4046 Massillon Road, Uniontown) — Kachina Riley talks about her memoir Tattered Phoenix, 7 p.m. Monday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-South branch, 7335 Ridge Road) — Maria Isabella, author of In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs, talks from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Portage Lakes branch, 4261 Manchester Road) — Kachina Riley signs Tattered Phoenix, 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Highland Square branch, 807 W. Market St.) — Irv Korman signs I Was Jerry Lewis’ Bodyguard for 10 Minutes! And Other Celebrity Encounters, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Registration required; call 330-376-2927.
Hudson Library and Historical Society (96 Library St.) — Rebecca McClanahan signs The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change, 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Tallmadge branch, 90 Community Road) — Beverly J. DeSimone, Massillon author of books including Conversations in writing, signs her work 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Jeff Matovic signs Ticked, 7 p.m. Thursday; Richard Lertzman signs his book (with William J. Birnes) Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History by Treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis, and Other Prominent Figures, 7 p.m. Friday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Berea branch, 7 Berea Commons) — Steve Ulfelder, author of the bestselling Conway Sax mysteries, signs Shotgun Lullaby, 2 to 3 p.m. Friday. Registration required; call 440-234-5475.
Strongsville Holiday Inn (15471 Royalton Road) — The Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America concludes its conference with a signing featuring local and visiting authors, including Madeline Hunter, Donna MacMeans, LuAnn McLane, Duffy Brown, Casey Daniels, Becky Lower, Rena Koontz and more, 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Saturday. See www.neorwa.com for the list.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (North Royalton branch, 14600 State Road) — North Olmsted author Marty Gitlin talks about and signs The Great American Cereal Book, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Independence branch, 6361 Selig Drive) — Maria Isabella signs In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Randal Doane, assistant dean at Oberlin College, signs Stealing All Transmissions, about The Clash, 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.