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Martha Conway's first novel, 12 Bliss Street, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her latest novel, Thieving Forest, won the North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Epoch, Folio, and other journals. A recipient of a California Arts Council Fellowship, Martha teaches creative writing for Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program and UC Berkeley Extension. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She now lives in San Francisco with her family.
Author Photo © Noah Hawthorne
June 2017 Book of the Month. Brimming with stunning writing and historical illuminations, this captivates the heart and enlightens the mind. It’s 1838 in pre-Civil War America, and the Ohio River snakes between the free states of the North, and the slave states of the South. Twenty-two-year-old May is her cousin Comfort’s “seamstress, dresser, and trunk packer. And a hundred other things as well” when the steamboat they’re on sinks. While actress Comfort is taken in by wealthy abolitionist Flora Howard, and hired to give speeches for her cause, there's no role for May. But being “quite independent in spirit”, as Flora describes her, and an exceptionally skilled seamstress, May finds work with Hugo and Helena's Floating Theatre, a fabulously evoked flatboat that travels up and down the river, coasting the border between the North and South.What follows is the captivating account of a young woman's serpentine navigation of ghosts from her past, secrets, betrayal, and love, at great personal risk, in a land split by slavery. Dazzling, involving, and immensely memorable, I was swept away by the flow of this remarkable novel. A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... ‘A compelling, beautiful and passionate novel The Floating Theatre completely swept me away. With great skill Martha Conway immerses her readers in a time of great turmoil, skilfully weaving sumptuous historical detail into a brilliant narrative peopled with characters that in 1830s United States could only ever find a home on a theatrical riverboat sailing the country’s North-South divide. And in May Bedloe she creates a heroine whose quiet strength and inquisitive nature makes for a page-turning read. A powerful, moving novel about compromise, courage, friendship and love, and one woman’s struggle to find her way in a world riddled with danger, The Floating Theatre is a story I knew I had to publish as soon as I read it. I hope you love this as much as I do.’ ~ Eleanor Dryden, Editor, Zaffre
'Completely charming' Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock 'An engaging story with lovely detail' Daily Mail Ohio, 1838. To save the lives of others, a young seamstress must risk her own. When young seamstress May Bedloe is left alone and penniless on the shore of the Ohio, she finds work on the famous floating theatre that plies its trade along the river. Her creativity and needlework skills quickly become invaluable and she settles in to life among the colourful troupe of actors. She finds friends, and possibly the promise of more ... But cruising the border between the Confederate South and the 'free' North is fraught with danger. For the sake of a debt that must be repaid, May is compelled to transport secret passengers, under cover of darkness, across the river and on, along the underground railroad. But as May's secrets become harder to keep, she learns she must endanger those now dear to her. And to save the lives of others, she must risk her own . . . A gloriously involving and powerful read for fans of The Essex Serpent and Tracy Chevalier's The Last Runaway.
Con un barco teatro que recorre el rio Ohio durante el siglo XIX como telon de fondo, El Teatro Flotante es la emocionante historia de una costurera encantadoramente sincera e ingenua que, victima de un chantaje, tendra que ayudar a salvar a esclavos profugos, poniendo en riesgo su libertad, su modo de vida y un nuevo amor.Cuando la joven costurera May Bedlow se queda sola y sin un centavo en un pueblo a las orillas del rio Ohio, encontrara trabajo en el famoso Teatro Flotante de Hugo y Helena que navega llevando su espectaculo a ambas orillas del rio. Su creatividad y su maestria con la aguja la hacen inmediatamente imprescindible y se convertira en una mas de la colorida troupe de artistas. Por primera vez en su vida May parece haber encontrado amigos y quizas algo mas...Pero la frontera entre el Sur Confederado y el Norte libre esta lleno de peligros... Para saldar una deuda que nunca podra pagar, May se vera obligada a colaborar en el transporte secreto de pasajeros, cruzando el rio al abrigo de la oscuridad de la noche...Una lectura cautivadora, inteligente e inolvidable.Kathleen Grissom, autora de The Kitchen House y Glory over EverythingEl Teatro Flotante es una novela llena de emocion y de atmosfera sobre la esclavitud, la traicion y la redencion, con una heroina inolvidable por su franqueza, y una trama tan rapida y llena de giros inesperados como el propio rio.
'Completely charming' Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock In a nation divided by prejudice, everyone must take a side. When young seamstress May Bedloe is left alone and penniless on the shore of the Ohio, she finds work on the famous floating theatre that plies its trade along the river. Her creativity and needlework skills quickly become invaluable and she settles in to life among the colourful troupe of actors. She finds friends, and possibly the promise of more ... But cruising the border between the Confederate South and the 'free' North is fraught with danger. For the sake of a debt that must be repaid, May is compelled to transport secret passengers, under cover of darkness, across the river and on, along the underground railroad. But as May's secrets become harder to keep, she learns she must endanger those now dear to her. And to save the lives of others, she must risk her own ... A gloriously involving and powerful read for fans of Gone With The Wind and Tracy Chevalier's The Last Runaway
"e;Short-story writer Conway's jump to novel length is as lean and sexy as her cardio-kickboxing heroine."e; - Kirkus ReviewsNicola is having a really bad day. She's tired of her job, her boss, and even her San Francisco apartment, which she's just heard she's being evicted from anyway. Her life's only excitement is fueled by fantasy - about the expensive lingerie she wears under her business suits, about a man she sees at lunch every day, a darkly handsome man she calls Chorizo, after the kind of pizza he orders. She's flat-out tired of her life, and nothing brings it home more than running into her annoying but harmless ex-husband, Scooter, on the way to work.But if ever anyone learns a lesson in "e;be careful what you wish for,"e; it's Nicola, because suddenly her life seems to be full of excitement. First she gets kidnapped after kickboxing class by two inept teenagers who, it turns out, aren't your garden-variety ransom kidnappers at all. But before she can resolve this situation, her innocent flirtation with Chorizo turns sinister. Suddenly Nicola's problem is no longer how to survive her boredom but how to survive, period. All in all, Martha Conway's debut is a deliciously hip, sexy, and suspenseful crime novel.