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The Underground River – Martha Conway

Title: The Underground River

Author: Martha Conway

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: May Bedloe is a seamstress for her cousin Comfort in 1838. They’re traveling down the Ohio River on a steamboat when it sinks. They’re separated but survive. They’re met, and taken in by Flora Howard, a notable abolitionist. Comfort is commandeered into Mrs. Howard’s trade and gives speeches to educate Northerners about slavery. May secretly finds employment as a seamstress again on a theater boat after using the money given by Mrs. Howard. May finally learns to be on her own after living in Comfort’s shadow for so long and learns about boating and show business. May’s contentment crashes down when she meets Mrs. Howard again. Mrs. Howard blackmail’s May into joining the Underground Railroad. She is to help slaves get across the Ohio River, to freedom. But that means putting her new friends at risk. Will she be able to do it? Can she keep everyone safe?

Rating: 3.0 – slow start but a good read

Opinion: This was an interesting read. It took a little too long for the plot to pick up. May doesn’t join the Underground Railroad until half way through the book. The book is more about May’s journey of self-discovery than the history. The author does do her research about the time period. She notes the subtle differences between the north and south along the Ohio River. I guess I never realized that few people knew the true nature of slavery. The punishments for those helping runaway slaves were steeper than I expected but not surprising. As slow paced as the book was, I enjoyed it. There were still a few good plot twists. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending but it still made me happy. This is a good book for those who want a steady read about self discovery and the Underground Railroad.

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