Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review: The Mapmaker's Children

It is no secret that I love historical fiction; however, when the book is set in a location that I know and have been to....I am sold! When I saw that The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy was set fairly close to where David and I used to live in Northern Virginia, I was intrigued and knew I needed the book.

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Set in the Harper's Ferry/Charlestown area on the border of Virginia and West Virginia, The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy tells two stories: one set pre-Civil War and the other in present time.

In 1859, Sarah Brown, the daughter of abolitionist John Brown, chooses to follow her own path in life, rather than conforming to the expectations of society. She is a talented artist and uses this skill to create maps for the Underground Railroad, since many of the escaping slaves were illiterate, but could understand pictures. She even tries to save her father from being put to death by smuggling a map to him in prison, but to no avail.

Sort of, but not exactly, mirroring the same story line of rebellion in present time, Eden is a woman who gave up her PR/marketing job to move to a historic home in West Virginia with her husband Jack. She and Jack have been unsuccessfully trying to have a baby, which is putting a major strain on their marriage. 

Eden's storyline starts off a little dull and she comes across as a serious brat towards the little girl whom Jack is paying to care for their new dog, but I eventually warmed to her, especially when the two main characters' rebellions became more clear. While Sarah's rebellion is very in-your-face, Eden's is quieter. She is rebelling against what contemporary society deems to be female--someone who selflessly gives herself to her family, bearing her husband children, while also being independent and working...obviously not realistic, but that is how women are portrayed in the media today.

I absolutely adored Sarah's chapters and found her to be incredibly strong, both as a character in a novel and as a historical figure of that time period. And while I appreciated the juxposition of the two women, I really could have done without the hot and cold nature of Eden. I could not decide if I liked her or wanted to throttle her because of her treatment of everyone around her, including her new dog. All in all, though, The Mapmaker's Children was a fast read, one where I found myself wishing it had gone on for another few chapters, and I give it a 9 out of 10.

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