Lately I have been drawn to books that mix a storyline from the past along with one from the present, like Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman. Even better if there is a connection that ties the two together. In Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children, she does that beautifully.
The historical side tells the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, who was executed for aiding slaves through the Underground Railroad. Sarah’s artistic talent lends itself to the cause, as she’s able to create detailed maps to assist the slaves in finding freedom. Knowing she will forever be unable to bear children, she risks her life to fight for what she believes is right.
Fast-forward to the present where we meet Eden Anderson, a former PR executive who moves to New Charleston and discovers a porcelain doll head in her pantry. She becomes angry and bitter after struggling with infertility in a new town where she knows no one. That is, until her 11-year-old neighbor appears and helps become a detective as to why that doll is in her house.
Sarah McCoy truly has a way with words and as the chapters alternate between past and present, you oftentimes believe you are reading separate books because of how distinct the writing is. I learned so much about the Brown family and saw the Civil War through their eyes. It’s amazing how much we can take for granted now, just having a warm house in winter and food on our table, things that families had to fight for during hard times.
The newly released paperback version of this book is perfect for book clubs as it already has preprinted questions and a discussion with Sarah about her research into this story and music she listened to while writing. I am eager to go back and read the author’s first novel, The Baker’s Daughter, knowing how much I enjoyed this one. Be sure to check out Sarah’s bio on the Penguin Random House page.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Thank you for the copy in exchange for an honest review.