May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
Ethan McOwen has lived through the period of Irish history known as “the Hunger” in 1847 County Fermanagh. He and his sister, Aislinn, brought much joy to the family in this dark time with their dramatic renditions of Shakespeare and the Odyssey. But then Aislinn dies of starvation, and in the family’s grief they make the decision to leave for America.
The journey across the Atlantic Ocean is truthfully depicted with its horrific lack of food and plenty of disease. Ethan consoles himself by talking to Aislinn, who is in heaven and whom he believes sees all. Upon arrival, Ethan yearns for more education but is rejected because of his Irish background, perhaps a blessing in disguise as he takes up the craft of photography. He forges on, developing a passion for photographing beauty and horror exactly as they are. But this talent is about to be drastically challenged with the Civil War, in which he and his friends participate in the famous Irish Brigade.
Devastating scenes follow in which soldiers line up in ranks, falling line by line from the guns of the Southern Rebs. In the middle of all this he meets Marcella, the love of his life, a former society girl whose passions includes independence, freedom for slaves, and the women’s suffrage movement. On another side are Micah and Mary, two talented young slaves who educate themselves by various means but are denied the right to love. They will find each other only after Micah escapes and travels a self-revealing journey to maturity.
Peter Troy is a masterful storyteller who completely disregards stereotypical pictures of the Irish, slaves, and warfare – speaking from the heart and creating a unique, literate tapestry of characters and love beyond the reader’s limited imagination. Absolutely delightful, and a must read!