May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
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May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  919 ratings  ·  182 reviews
An engrossing, epic American drama told from four distinct perspectives, spanning the first major wave of Irish immigration to New York through the end of the Civil War.

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 fa...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2012)
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A wonderful first novel by Peter Troy.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Civil War, May The Road Rise Up To Meet You is a story of four unforgettable characters who have parallel lives, all are setting out on a journey in life and along the way intersect with each other lives.

The plot for this novel is so well written and unlike other immigrant stories I have read it is not stereotyped or over written which I really appreciated. The characters are believable and richly drawn. I especially...more
I loved this book - the characters were each so different and so compelling. I admit that it took me a while to get used to the sounds of the Southern and Irish voices but once I got over the first few pages and could focus on what Troy's characters were saying, I carried the book with me everywhere.

On the one hand, you might expect the book to be depressingly heavy since the lead characters go through so much - from the Great Famine in Ireland to slavery in the American South to the American Ci...more
Diane S.
Four different people coming from four different backgrounds. Mary and Micah are both slaves, Ethan left Ireland after the potato famine and journeys to New York and Marcella who become a fierce abolitionist.
All face adversity in varying degrees and yet eventually all four come together. This is a wonderful historical novel, with interesting characters. Ethan had me when leaving Ireland he tried to take with him the few books he and his sister (she dies before he leaves Ireland) had, that they h...more
Jim B
This novel (currently only in audio book form) has several creative twists going for it. First of all, there are four main characters whose lives start out as different as can be, and eventually the story comes together in one narrative. Secondly, the audio book format the four main men and women (Ethan, Micah, Marcella and Mary) each have their own narrator, and some of these narrators bring their characters to life (see review of the narrators below). Then there is the format of the book. The...more
There are multiple books on Goodreads that I can't figure out why they don't have more reception. This is one of those books. Although it hasn't been released yet, I would expect to see it on more TBR lists. I enjoyed the book due to its' setting, but also the character development. These were truly characters I could sink me teeth into and get to know. One word of this book first started out I couldn't figure out where or for what purpose it was heading. Even half the way through t...more
Wonderful says it all for me too.
This book found me through my local library's list of recommendations. I am so glad I picked it up.

The story involves four characters on all the cusp of change as America is transforming itself during the Civil War.

Ethan is a recent arrival from Ireland; Marcella is a transplant from Spain; Micah is a slave that is sold to a man in Virginia separated from his family; and Mary is bought as a young girl an a slave auction when a wealthy white girl wants her for a "sister."

These characters each h...more
I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. I stumbled a bit to get through the prologue but from then on it was smooth sailing. Four people come into play, Mica, a slave sold away, Mary, a slave also sold away, Ethan, fleeing Ireland from the great hunger, Marcella brought from Spain with her family.
Each character comes with his own set of problems and feelings brought about by all they have been through. somehow Micah and Mary find each other while Ethan and Marcella also find each other....more
It's hard to know where to begin. This book is so filled with characters you root for, it's like you've spent all those years with them on their journey, sharing their hopes, their dreams, their worries. On a purely technical aspect, I found that I enjoyed the informal writing style, the general lack of quotation marks that indicate talking. It somehow made it feel more...real. Even though the characters are not real, it brings to life and gives a face (faces), to part of American history that u...more
Argh. Everybody else seems to love this but I just didn't and I can't even seem to sum up why. For starters, it took me awhile to really dig in and enjoy. In part I needed to pick up the rhythm of the various accents (which I find distracting until I really get into the swing of things) and partially because it takes quite awhile for the stories to begin to come together. So I had to accept and wrap my mind around the way each character thinks and speaks and I was a little impatient to get on wi...more
I don't know where to begin with this book as it was truly a gem. Mr. Troy has crafted really three love stories in this novel; that of the two main couples and a third for what we all long for, home. Ethan leaves Ireland during "The Hunger" after losing his beloved sister and comes to America to live with his father and brother. Mary, a slave is first horribly treated and then uplifted but still enslaved. Marcella, a woman of means and family breaks from her family as soon as she can because sh...more
Peter Troy manages to link the three defining man-made disasters of the 19th century: the Irish potato famine, slavery and the American Civil War into an intricate weave of powerful narrative set pieces. Ethan McOwen crosses the Atlantic to escape the famine and survives the hell of Five Points. Troy introduces a slave family with a parallel to the McOwens; the son, Micah, is sold to a new owner in Virginia, where he meets Mary, an educated house slave. Ethan eventually becomes an assistant to M...more
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Notes: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book. Some of the quotes may differ from the final version. Assume errors are mine.

Famine...Slavery...A country on the cusp of change.....
Four remarkable individuals
Two couples
One War that will change everything

"How you know whachu doin Gertie?" you ask.

"Been at dis fo' alooong time" she says, an starts hummin.

"Naw," you say, "I you know whachu stitchin when it d
Jun 09, 2012 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who enjoy slowly developing characters set against extensive historical details
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy is a sweeping dramatic saga of loss and redemption against the backdrop of the American Civil War. The story is told by four primary characters: Mary, Ethan, Micah, Marcella. Mary and Micah are slaves in the South; Ethan and Marcella are immigrants from Ireland and Spain.

The first half of the book slowly and painstakingly describes each character's life and hardships in detail, and also sets the background leading to civil war. The second half of th...more
I really loved this book and especially fell in love with Ethan and Micah. What beautifully written characters! I was brought to tears by them several times. I appreciated the different voices and perspectives, and felt completely immersed in the period and the two love stories. It must be amazing to be taught history by this author, as he made it all so interesting and real. Another plus for me was that we've been to many of the locales in the book: Ireland and also DC, Fredericksburg, Richmond...more
I like to read historical novels, and I really thought that this story would be a great one ... However, I only read about the first 50 or so pages and I was already bored ...
I don't know why, I guess I was not into all of the background and information which was starting to be presented about the main characters in the story.
Plus the book was written to try and show how the person would actually speak (black slaves and Irish in the 1800's). This in itself made it kind of hard to read through t...more
This book was better than average, but it really wasn’t anything spectacular. Ultimately it was just two parallel love stories set in the historical context of the Civil War. Not really fabulous on any level, but page turning and interesting enough.

The four main characters all had strong voices, but were still fairly similar to each other (independent women and men who respect them). I enjoyed the brogue and the southern accent and there were definitely a few funny scenes. Given the time of year...more
Feb 21, 2013 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of family sagas, American history buffs
My review from 2012: I really enjoy historical fiction especially with interesting characters. This is a good one.
Now, in 2013: I couldn't give the "Tale for Three Counties" community-reads pick for 2013 away, so my review was kind of "muted." I love the book and the way it personalizes an era of American history. I also really like the positive "can-do" attitude of the characters despite their trying circumstances. The audio is a good listen, also.
Beth Kiesel
This was a thoroughly engaging, epic saga spanning a single generation of four people whose lives parallel each other in some ways, and eventually come together in a satisfying ending. I loved the way the author literally "wove" history, literature, and drama together to create a beautiful, nearly completely believable story against the backdrop of the Irish Potato Famine, immigration, and the US Civil War. He knows his history, and he knows his literature. It's a great combination.

I read somewh...more
Very lengthy, slow novel. The dialect makes reading it difficult. I did like how the four stories come together at the end, although it was difficult reading until I knew how the puzzle pieces would fit together. I did not like how the writing would take on "second-person" so often, and all of the voices seemed to blend together instead of being distinct different characters.
Amanda Zirn
I absolutely loved this book! I got so attached to the characters and you learned so much from the time period. I was so sad to see it end because I loved the characters so much. I recommend this book all the time to my customers, I can't wait until it comes out in paperback!
I think this is one of those books that is so much better in audiobook format. With the possible exception of Marcella's narrator, the other three voices ROCK the voices of their respective main characters, plus the secondary characters. Marcella, I felt, needed just a touch of Spanish accent.

Troy perhaps tried just a bit to hard to wrap in too many momentous historical events/eras: subjugation of Ireland by Britain, Irish famine, the five points area of New York, Tammany hall, invention of base...more
It took awhile to get used to the dialects but I got to a point where I couldn't put it down. I loved how the characters all come together in the end. I really like how the author is able to portray difficult situations and events without making it graphic.
Anne Twiss
This is an outstanding historical novel, told in the voices of slaves, Irish immigrants, and a Spanish abolitionist. It's a love story and a war story. The writing is poetically beautiful. Mr. Troy has a winner here, and I look forward to his next book.
Peter Troy opens his novel with an evocative image: a child, watching a woman embroidering cloth, only sees the tangle of threads from the underside. It is not until she can see the threads stitched into a design--frontways--that the pattern becomes clear. The lives of the novel's four main characters start in very different places (Ireland during the Hunger, Spain, New York, and the American South), and Troy does not rush the characters' encounters. Each character is fully drawn in his/her own...more
Tara Carpenter
The Civil War period is something I have stayed away from before - it just makes me sad. Slavery & fighting within our country are not exactly uplifting. I usually stick to WWI but this book may have changed my mind. Even though it was sad still.

I liked the background on each of the 4 characters - and the immigration angle is right up my alley. Especially Ireland; I have a soft spot for the country. And the women's rights movement during this period is something I knew nothing about. Some o...more
Margie Nash
This book is told from four different people and perspectives during the Civil War years. Mary and Micah are slaves; Marcella is a feisty young woman from an elite family, and Ethan is a young Irish immigrant. Some of the characters are depicted by today’s standards, e.g. Marcella is beating all the men in poker, winning lots of money and is talking like a feminist in today’s world. Mary and Ethan spend quite a bit of time talking to people in their lives who are deceased. I just found the relat...more
What a lovely book! The story is told in different viewpoints, the point of which we don’t see until much later in the book. We meet characters who survive The Hunger in Ireland and move to America for a new start. We meet slaves – and see how their circumstances dictate their lives as well as the actions they take to dictate their own. We also meet a woman who has moved to America under the shadow of her father’s illegal dealings, and finds herself caught up in the abolition movement. Why these...more
In May the Road Rise Up to Meet You we encounter four remarkable characters in this memorable debut of historical fiction spanning the mid-nineteenth century through the end of the Civil War.

Ethan McOwen leaves Ireland in 1847 at the height of the famine and sails to America under squalid conditions joining his father and brother in New York. He becomes a successful photographer and volunteer in the Civil War with the Irish Brigade. Marcella Arroyo is a young Spanish woman whose wealthy family m...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Phew. Audiobooks over ten discs long just seem to go on forever. When I ventured out of the house for lunch with friends today, I passed a woman leaving the library with a James Michener audiobook about as large as a freaking toaster and I just don't know how she does it. May the Road Rise Up to Meet You felt really long, and it's only 13 discs. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this, but it took some commitment to get through.

Parts of this novel, I simply loved and did not want to stop listening to...more
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Peter Troy is a former journalist and high school history teacher. He lives in New York State, where he is at work on his next novel.
More about Peter Troy...
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