May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy – Audiobook Review

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy, narrated by John Keating, Barrie Kreinik, Allyson Johnson, and Adam Lazarre White
Published in audio by AudioGo; published in print by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

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Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Four unique voices; two parallel love stories; one sweeping novel rich in the history of nineteenth-century America. This remarkable debut draws from the great themes of literature—famine, war, love, and family—as it introduces four unforgettable characters. Ethan McOwen is an Irish immigrant whose endurance is tested in Brooklyn and the Five Points at the height of its urban destitution; he is among the first to join the famed Irish Brigade and becomes a celebrated war photographer. Marcella, a society girl from Spain, defies her father to become a passionate abolitionist. Mary and Micah are slaves of varying circumstances, who form an instant connection and embark on a tumultuous path to freedom.

All four lives unfold in two beautiful love stories, which eventually collide. Written in gorgeous language that subtly captures the diverse backgrounds of the characters, and interspersed with letters, journals, and dreams, this unforgettable story, rendered in cinematic detail, is about having faith in life’s great meaning amidst its various tangles

Thoughts on the story:

I don’t always enjoy American historical fiction, but May the Road Rise Up to Meet You is a phenomenal novel. Each of the four storylines is wonderfully written and plotted in and of itself, but they mesh beautifully and authentically. It is  obvious that the lives of the four characters will have to cross or connect at some point, but it is not always clear exactly how they will do so. The intertwining of the stories could easily have been very forced and contrived, but Troy draws his characters together naturally. In addition to the four strong and compelling characters, each with fascinating backgrounds, Troy’s writing is very good, combining to make May the Road Rise Up to Meet just a wonderful historical novel.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Troy’s novel is wonderful in and of itself, but the cast of narrators put together by AudioGo elevates May the Road Rise Up to Meet You to an even higher level. Each of the four main characters is voiced by a separate, talented narrator. Each of them manages to completely become their character and, perhaps even more impressively, each is able to seamlessly switch accents when one of the other characters engages in dialog during one their character’s sections.

For more on the audio production, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine:.

Overall:

A wonderful historical novel, no matter how you experience it, but if you have the option I strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which will only enhance the experience. Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: Audiofile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin – Book Review

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan

Cora Cash is just about as close to royalty as an American can get. Her family isn’t old money, but they’re wealthy enough to be the talk of the town – and own a mansion in Newport that makes the Vanderbilt estate look miniscule. Even so, Cora’s mother is always looking for the next step to improve her family’s standing, and she’s fairly sure she has found it in Europe: a title. Rich American girls are all the rage among Europe’s cash-strapped gentry, to the point where there is actually a publication in the States listing those titled men looking hardest for an heiress. After all, who but a duke could be worthy of the Cash family’s only child? Luckily for Mrs. Cash’s plans, the Duke of Wareham happens upon Cora when she is injured in the woods while riding, and before long the two are engaged. It isn’t long, though, until Cora discovers that she is not quite as prepared for this life as she believes herself to be.

Daisy Goodwin’s American Heiress is a fun and engaging read. Nobody is particularly likable – the closest is Cora’s maid Bertha, Cora herself is quite spoiled – but Goodwin still manages to evoke some empathy for those characters who find themselves in situations they don’t entirely understand. The time period was believable, as was the fairly dramatic plot, both of which contributed to the cotton candy can’t-stop-reading aspect. At close to 500 pages, though, it was just too long. Considering it was much more plot-driven than character-driven, not enough happened to justify that length of book. Quite a bit could have been cut down to create a tighter story.

American Heiress is a flawed but interesting novel. Certainly the concept of Gilded Age American heiresses infusing a generation of British nobility with money is a fascinating – and true – one.

The American Heiress is the SheKnows Book Club pick for May.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, for the SheKnows Book Club.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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