Book review: The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway

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The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway (first published in 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre)

With her skills as a seamstress and pianist, she finds a way to be useful aboard the Floating Theatre – sewing costumes for the travelling troupe who put on shows for people up and down the Ohio River.

Travelling between the free North and the Confederate South, where slavery is still rife, May tentatively starts to feel at home among her shipmates. 

Read more: 5 ways to get reluctant readers to pick up a book

An encounter with her cousin draws May into the secret world of runaway slaves, and she begins to help escapees find a new life in the North.

The menacing presence of slavers bent on catching the runaways and punishing those who help them looms over May’s life, as she also tries to cement her place in the theatre company. 

A flawed character whose motives are not all altruistic, May’s survival instinct and her desire to do the right thing create a tension that at times sits uncomfortably for the reader. 

Read more: Book review: Artemis by Andy Weir

The vividly imagined setting and characters carry the story and ultimately make for a thought-provoking read.

Purchase a copy of the book from Takealot.com.

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