Audiobook Review: May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Audiobook Review: May the Road Rise Up to Meet YouMay the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy
Narrator: Adam Lazarre White, Allyson Johnson, Barrie Kreinik, John Keating
Length: 16 hrs, 24 mins
Published by AudioGO on March 20, 2012
Genres: Historical
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

Review:
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 at all. Unfortunately, the bulk of the novel bored me, especially in the beginning. When the book first starts, the four main characters are all children, and I just did not find myself as interested in those aspects of their lives. Two of the characters, Micah and Mary, are slaves in the United States, who, from separate places, get sold to new masters. While I know I should have been moved by this, there wasn’t anything original in this part of the narrative, so I kept finding myself zoning out. Meanwhile, Ethan made his way from Ireland, beset by the potato famine and resulting hunger.

As the characters grew up, their tales became much more engaging. Micah and Mary both become slaves of utmost importance, respected, though still without freedom. Micah does better carpentry work than any white men, and Mary can make dresses just as nice (and for which her master charges just as much) as those French designers.

Ethan enlists in the Union Army with his friends, in the Irish brigade. He takes pictures of the conflict, because of his training as a photographer. The discussion of the slow movements of the army took me back to half-remembered lessons in a course on American Military History, which mostly taught me what a horrific memory I have for battles. His story line, more than any other, highlights the civil war from a regular man’s perspective.

Marcella, though, had to be my favorite. Her family moved, a generation or two back, to America from Spain. She has so much sass. When the reader first meets her, she’s playing a poker game with some wealthy, slave owning white men. She simpers and pretends to be a sweet, simple thing, but, actually, she’s a card shark, taking their money to use for the abolition movement. Later, she gets involved in women’s suffrage too. Marcella has so much strength, power and an indomitable will. In a dream cast, she would definitely be a young Natalie Wood, using all the sass from The Great Race and a little bit of the accent from West Side Story.

I rather expected this novel to be endlessly depressing as such lifelong, sweeping dramas as thing one tend to be in my experience. Actually, the message is one of hope and inspiration. The romances are sweet, and all of the characters utterly lovable.

Narration:
Finally a full cast narration done well! Thus far, all the one’s I’ve listened to have made some questionable casting decisions and lessened the impact. Each one of the voice actors matched their part well. Marcella sounds a bit like a sassy Natalie Wood, Ethan has his Irish brogue, Micah sounds deep and reliable, and Mary seems like just the kind of woman to excel at putting forth the face she wants whoever she’s talking to to see.

Even better, they all do a pretty decent job imitating one another. The narration switches from character to character, but, once they meet up obviously, they converse with one another, so the actors sometimes need to do the voices for another actor’s character. Some do better than others, but all do well enough. I doubt I would have been able to finish this in print form, as I might have DNFed in the slow passages.

6 responses to “Audiobook Review: May the Road Rise Up to Meet You”

  1. Kat Balcombe says:

    Long audiobooks can be exhausting. Someone suggested to me I should listen to them at a faster speed but I’m too easily distracted.

    I do like the sound of this one, particularly as its historical fiction, and the full cast narration.

    Great review!

  2. Giselle says:

    Only 13 disks long? Well if it’s so short I’ll just go buy it now! 😀 Even though it’s totally not my thing and sounds completely boring (I hate historicals *gasp*) I will do it for you!

  3. That sounds really long! 13 disks? I’ve no idea what a regular audiobook runs but I really thought it was like 4 tops. This sounds like it has a lot going on, but it doesn’t sound like one I would enjoy. I’m happy you made it through!

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