The Last Runaway & Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Book Pairing

The Last Runaway     Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Though there is a span of about 15 years between the setting of these books, they are so similar to each other that the second novel could be a “part two” in a series.  Chevalier’s story can very well be the beginning of the slaves’ attempt at gaining their long awaited freedom, whereas in Chiaverini’s tale, the dream to abolish slavery is actually attained.  Each title deals with a time period where racial issues are topics for heated discussions.  The main female in both books can be singled out in a group, for their differences: Honour Bright because she is a Quaker from England trying to fit in with Americans and Elizabeth Keckley, who is a black dressmaker for the president’s wife.  Honour and Elizabeth share the same skills of sewing and quilting, which both novels focus a lot on.  Each woman also takes risks in trying to do what is right.  They both develop strong friendships with another woman who has helped them obtain a secure foothold to succeed in life, which in both situations, causes them to question their loyalties to others around them.  If there were any differences between the two stories, it would be the pacing of the plot-line.  The Last Runaway has a lighter tone and moves much quicker than Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker.  Another difference is the fact that the second tale is considered biographical (written about a person who actually existed), while the first one is entirely fictional.  Since they are both historical fiction, however, each literary work brings a lot of knowledge to the forefront about the topics or subjects that are presented.  I would say these are two interesting titles to consider reading, if you haven’t already.

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