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Publisher's Summary

It's 1838, and May Bedloe works as a seamstress for her cousin, the famous actress Comfort Vertue - until their steamboat sinks on the Ohio River. Though they both survive, both must find new employment. Comfort is hired to give lectures by noted abolitionist Flora Howard, and May finds work on a small flatboat, Hugo and Helena's Floating Theatre, as it cruises the border between the northern states and the southern slave-holding states. May becomes indispensable to Hugo and his troupe, and all goes well until she sees her cousin again.

Comfort and Mrs. Howard are also traveling down the Ohio River, speaking out against slavery at the many riverside towns. May owes Mrs. Howard a debt she cannot repay, and Mrs. Howard uses the opportunity to enlist May in her network of shadowy characters who ferry babies given up by their slave mothers across the river to freedom. Lying has never come easy to May, but now she is compelled to break the law, deceive all her newfound friends, and deflect the rising suspicions of Dr. Early, who captures runaways and sells them back to their Southern masters.

©2017 Martha Conway (P)2017 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

Really enjoyed it

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. I loved the Story line and the idea about it. Grew to love or hate the characters. Just thought the climax came late in the book and didn’t last as long as I’d like. Would have like to if had more saving or the Slaves or another book. I was glued to the book the whole time. Read in about 2 days. Well written the descriptions where believable at times I felt I too was on the boat. If you like historical fiction you’ll like this book.

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Excellent historical fiction audiobook

Great character development and beautiful descriptions. I felt as if I could breathe the air she described and feel the temperature. I was swept into the story right away. The author does a fantastic job with her words of bringing this story to life. The narrator is a perfect conveyer of the characters. She uses different voices for each person.
Highly recommend!!

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Just kept getting better.

As the story unfolds, the characters come to life and the intricacies of a well woven tale begin to draw one in. It took a few chapters before I was fully engaged, but then I couldn't wait to get back into the car for another "Audible" commute.

While the narrator did a wonderful job with credible character voices, accents and expression, I did not enjoy the voice of the protagonist, May. May seemed too modern for the setting, as well as monotone and unenthusiastic.

The tale seems well researched and offers an interesting view into life on both sides of the river, North and South, during the pre-civil war era. The scenes of life on a floating theater were as entertaining as its characters, and the subtle romance was a long-awaited reward.

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A riveting story, well written!

The Underground River is a wonderful book with complex characters, relationships, and a rich description of an important part of American history. Martha Conway is an excellent writer and I look forward to all of her books to come!