In October Nantwich/Audlem group joined forces with Trentham and Market Drayton for our 2015 Big Read. We had chosen “The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier, and 35 of us met locally to share and discuss our thoughts on the book in light of this years theme of democracy and human rights.
It is essentially a story about a young Quaker girl from Dorset, who when faced with a difficult sitution, finds herself emigrating to America and facing potentially overwhelming changes in her life, a story poignantly punctuated by her letters home.
Her story is told within the context of her contemplative and pacifist Quaker faith as she is faced with the sorry plight of escaping slaves, her desire to help conflicting with the requirements of that faith to help the suffering, yet to remain within the law and never lie.
Her marriage into a family very different to her own, and her very necessary contribution to their way of life as they work hard towards self sufficiency in a pioneering environment, together with her prowess as a seamstress and the amount of quilting required of her in order to marry into that famiy, illustrates the enormity of her change in circumstances.
It was inevitable then that our evening of discussion revolved mainly around the Quaker movement, slavery, and of course, quilting.
Plenty of supporting information was on display about these three subjects, including a magnificent quilt, (pictured) hand made by Hazel from Nantwich, which contains several patterns with a hidden meaning, and relevant to the slave escape routes using the ‘underground railway’, patterns such as twisted star, log cabin and flying geese.
This was a popular read, and an enjoyable evening.