The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart

Woodcut by Gwen Raverat

Woodcut by Gwen Raverat

“The Runaway” has an interesting publishing history.

It was first published in 1872 and became a lifelong favourite of the artist Gwen Raverat. It was at her suggestion that it was reissued, illustrated dozens of her wood-engravings.

The wonderful Persephone Books published “The Runaway” again in 2002. It is a beautiful edition, with Persephone’s traditional dove grey jacket, beautiful endpapers and happily it reproduces Gwen Raverat’s wonderful illustrations.

This is at heart a children’s story, but one well able to charm adult readers.

Clarice lives within a country house with her widowed father a country house. One day she discovers Olga, the runaway of the title in the shrubbery. Olga asks Clarice to hide her and then the story begins.

Persephone Endpapers

Persephone Endpapers

At first the lonely Clarice is charmed by her new friend, but Olga is irrepressible and difficult to keep hidden, and she is torn when her governess becomes anxious at the strange noises in the house and uncomfortable at not being able to tell her father the truth.

She begins to wonder if she is doing the right thing in hiding Olga, and her doubtsaboutwho Olga really is and where she’s come from grow.

The plot is cleverly constructed and you can read of some wonderful escapades and enjoy characters simply but beautifully drawn.

A lovely book to curl up with and get lost for a few hours!

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