- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone (June 20, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501160206
- ISBN-13: 978-1501160202
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Underground River: A Novel Hardcover – June 20, 2017
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“Creating a perfectly straight seam finds echoes throughout the book in plot devices and metaphors, even in saving souls, and it may come as a surprise how lively and sustaining this lost art can be. Twain has his ‘Life on the Mississippi.’ Conway’s life on the Ohio makes you see the place, through May’s eyes, in all its muddy glory.” (The New York Times Book Review)
"The Underground River is both a dear love story and a page-turning adventure about the Underground Railroad—and an unwilling participant. An extraordinary cast of memorable characters gives this book irresistible appeal while the setting on the watery boundary between North and South places them in dangerous and morally ambiguous territory. A captivating, thoughtful, and unforgettable read." (Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House and Glory over Everything)
“It is part of Martha Conway’s gift as a writer to weave stories from the richest and most interesting periods of American history. Set on a nineteenth century floating theatre on the Ohio River, The Underground River is a riveting and atmospheric novel about slavery, betrayal and redemption, with a memorably forthright heroine, and a plot as fast flowing and twisty as the river itself.” (Louisa Treger, author of The Lodger)
"Warning: The Underground River is a page-turner. Be prepared to stay up late reading, because once you start you won’t want to put it down. From the first page to the last, Martha Conway’s novel is riveting, immersing the reader in the adventures of an unlikely heroine who finds courage, independence and love amid the social turmoil of the Underground Railroad. Vividly drawn settings, original characters, and perilous situations make this mesmerizing book one you will remember for years to come." (Amy Belding Brown, author of Flight of the Sparrow)
“Martha Conway's The Underground River is simply wonderful, a novel in which the women—good and bad—matter. The tale is told by young May Bedloe, who grows up and falls in love as the modest little show-boat drifts down the river between the small towns of the slave-holding South and the free North. May is pitched into the middle of the Slave vs Free drama not through conviction--though she does indeed know what's right--but by blackmail, until eventually she musters the courage to risk everything for another woman. I loved May, and I very much hope we have not seen the last of her.” (Beverly Swerling, author of City of Dreams)
"Well-researched and gripping to the end, The Underground River is a vivid look at a pivotal chapter in American history." (The Mercury News)
"The Underground River evokes Twain in both story and setting. A compelling book that would no doubt please the Master of the Mississippi....A compelling story of a young woman who is trying to find her way in a world that, in a few years, will be ripped apart by war. A tale worthy of Twain." (The Free Lance-Star)
“May herself is a marvelous creation, more than a little reminiscent of Mattie Ross in Charles Portis’ True Grit....You’ll root for her till the last page. Add a gentle love story and an especially sinister villain (who enters stage left, rather late) and The Underground River has the makings of a cult classic.” (Wilmington Star-News)
"Thanks to the success of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, the subject of the abolition movement is popular in fiction now. Conway (Thieving Forest; Sugarland) offers a novel take on the topic, and book groups will especially enjoy the distinctive setting, the rich historical details, and the thorny issues begging to be discussed." (Library Journal)
"Readers will profit from narrator May’s attention to detail and will appreciate the richly drawn showboat and the North-South border setting.” (Booklist)
About the Author
Martha Conway grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the sixth of seven daughters. Her first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, and she has won several awards for her historical fiction, including an Independent Book Publishers Award and the North American Book Award for Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in the Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, Carolina Quarterly, Folio, Epoch, The Quarterly, and other journals. She has received a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing, and has reviewed books for the Iowa Review and the San Francisco Chronicle. She now lives in San Francisco, and is an instructor of creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension. She is the author of The Underground River.
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We live just 1 mile from the Ohio River. As I drive Louisville's River Road and gaze across the great expanse of river to the Indiana side, I marvel at the idea that a young woman like May could row across the Ohio with a little baby in a basket! Incidents like this--combined with vivid characters--are what make The Underground River so special.
Like The Floating Theatre traveling downriver, Martha's story gains intensity and depth as it develops. The final resolution is satisfying at the same time that it leaves the reader wanting more.
Nice work, cousin!!
the white who participated in such a vulgar way. Not my favorite book...but I 'm certainly glad this author wrote this book. Fiction story but those events were real. Disturbing!
I have read all of Martha Conway's books, and this is her best yet. May is a sometimes fearful but ultimately brave young woman who is caught up in something she didn't really look for. Setting aside her fears, she puts herself and others at risk so that she can do something that saves lives in a very troubled time. I found the descriptions of the Ohio River floating theater world fascinating, and some the quirky characters might have been created by Mark Twain. I can't wait to read Ms. Conway's next book!