21 May 2015

Review #220: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”

----Abraham Lincoln

Sarah McCoy, the New York Times bestselling and international best-selling American author, pens her new novel, The Mapmaker's Children , that traces the journey of the daughters of the Brown family, who helped the slaves to find their way to freedom through Underground Railroad, though this is a work of fiction, but the events are inspired from the real Sarah Brown and John Brown who were a slave traders of the late 19th century.


When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

This story alternates between two timeline and between some real characters and imaginary characters. Sarah Brown, John Brown's daughter, who after her father's death row, works hard to keep up her father's legacy to save the Harpers Ferry's slaves and smuggle them out to unknown destinations. Sarah Brown along with her sister, Annie and her friend, Freddy embark on John Brown's footsteps to be a slave-trader. Sarah's life is a painful as well as a liberating journey, who never got married due to a defect that she could never be a mother, thus leaving the love of her life, Freddy, considering both their happiness.

On the other hand, in the present days, we see another woman named, Eden who is going through IVF through ages along with her husband to be a mother in their new town. And while embarking on the hard road to IVFs and hormones, she gave up her old life. But this new town is proving to be a boon for her, when one day her husband brings home a little puppy.

The connection between these two characters is the house in New Charlestown, where in a root cellar Eden found the head of an European doll with a number marked on the face of the doll and an old style button, which leads her and her neighbor named, Cleo to investigate further.

The inter-parallel lives of both these women were not easy and both had to undergo a lot of personal struggles and their common problem which made them almost similar was their inability to become a mother. The author have skillfully and brilliantly depicted the two timelines and never once leaving us confused with the location and the period change.

From the author's evocative writing style, I can comment that the author is a master story-teller who knows what web of mysteries and inter-connected stories she is spinning without getting her readers off the trail. From the very first chapter, I felt completely lost into the story-telling.

The prose is beautifully paced, neither too fast not too slow, and given the fact that this is a historical fiction, the author have moderately detailed all the historical facts into her story without leaving us bored with all the details. Moreover, I felt this was more like an emotional journey of Sarah and Eden and how they overcome the challenges and shortcomings in their lives by standing strong and tall into the face of the storm.

The characters are very well-developed, I mean the way the author have breathed life into a real character, is something really astounding to read about. Sarah's selfless demeanor captivated my mind from the very begining, whereas on the other hand, I was made to feel sorry for Eden with her short-temper and unhappy lifestyle.

The backdrop that the author have portrayed in her book is very vivid and picturesque. The descriptions about Harpers Ferry and New Charlestown both in the present day and in the past are wonderfully captured by the author. In fact every scene inside the household is nicely featured and painted in her story thus letting anyone see through the scenes clearly through their own eyes. In a nutshell, this is a must-read book which will keep anyone engrossed and intrigued till the very end.

Verdict: This poignant and heart-touching story is a must-read for everyone.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Crown Publishing for sending me over a copy of the copy in return for an honest review. 

Author Info:
SARAH McCOY is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the novels THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN, THE BAKER'S DAUGHTER, THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO, and "The Branch of Hazel," a novella in GRAND CENTRAL.

The Baker's Daughter was praised as "a beautiful heart-breaking gem of a novel" by Tatiana de Rosnay and "a thoughtful reading experience indeed" by Chris Bohjalian. The Baker's Daughter was a Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club selection and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2012.

Sarah has taught writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She currently lives with her husband, an army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

Visit her here

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  1. This sounds so interesting! I already have it on my TBR list, and I can't wait to get it and finally read it :)

    Aeriko @ http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.com

  2. I requested this one for review, but was declined :( It sounds like one worthy of pursuit so I would like to try and read it! Loving the cover <3 And thanks for following me on all of those sites! I have followed you back on them as well :)

  3. Yeah guys this a great read and total worth it, thanks for your lovely comments! :-)


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