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The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
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The Mapmaker's Children

by Sarah McCoy

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1974259,709 (4.07)5

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
When I originally read this synopsis, I focused in on the codes in quilts and maps hidden within paintings. I was hoping for a DaVinci-Code-esque story set in Civil War times as slaves were being assisted across enemy lines to what they hoped would be a better life. Reading the synopsis again now that I've finished the book, it was exactly what it says, with the focus on two women in different times trying to find and fulfill their purpose in life.

I've said before that I'm very character driven and that I need to be able to empathize with the characters of a story for it to be a success for me. It took me a little while to warm up to Sarah and Eden, probably my own fault for having several books going at once and not reading more than a few pages at a time initially. Once I got into it though, I really enjoyed getting to know these two strong women.

I was apprehensive with Eden in the present as she adjusts to New Charleston and struggles with some difficult life decisions. I was fearful of what she would decide and how it could change her life, relieved as she begins to find her place and decide it's not so bad after all and may in fact be exactly what she needs.

Sarah is more certain in her life's purpose. She is determined to continue the work in the Underground Railroad that was so important to her father, even more so knowing that she cannot have children of her own. She is willing to risk everything to see it through, and discovers her artistic skills are her strength in the endeavor as she is constantly kept at a distance from the true action.

They are tied together across time by the doll's head Eden discovers in their new/old house and I came to care for Cleo, the girl next door, as she takes on the case of the myserious doll head. Cleo starts out as merely a caretaker for the puppy that Eden's husband brings home and she has no interest in, but by the end, she has become an integral part of Eden's life, and is responsible for drawing Eden out of her shell and integrating her into their new town.

If you enjoy stories of individuals finding their inner strengths and place in life, with a little historical mystery thrown in, you should give The Mapmaker's Children a read. It's a great example of maybe not getting what you think you wanted in life, but getting what you needed instead.
( )
  shaunesay | Jun 21, 2017 |
Two women separated by time, set in the backdrop of a house with tales to tell about life, society, and the Underground Railroad. ( )
  ladykat | May 15, 2017 |
The overriding theme of this book is infertility, but that was far from the whole story. I love the way the author wove two stories into one. The main character in the civil war era was Sarah Brown, daughter of James Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame. The alternate story took place in 2014. I found this very readable and historically interesting. Other themes explored in the storytelling was artistry in the 19th century, early feminism, taboos of the era. I found that part of the book much more fascinating than the current day story, but the connection of the two parts was really well done. ( )
  beebeereads | Feb 20, 2017 |
Good not greatest. Story from pre-civil war, alternating chapters with a story from today. What is wrong with me that I enjoyed the contemporary story more? ( )
  cherybear | Feb 10, 2017 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Daddio, Curtis McCoy, the best role model of courage, faith, and loving fatherhood
First words
The old house on Apple Hill Lane shuddered against the weighty snow that burdened its pitch.
Quotations
Restraint was as powerful as action in the business of secrecy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385348908, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:42 -0400)

"The Mapmaker's Children is the story of Sarah Brown, the vibrant, talented daughter of abolitionist John Brown. Her conventional life trajectory is dynamically changed when she's told the shocking news that she can't bear children and stumbles into her father's work on the Underground Railroad. Realizing that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the movement's leading mapmakers. Since many runaways are unable to read and cannot carry obvious maps demarcating safe houses, Sarah takes her cues from the slave code quilts of her abolitionist colleagues, hiding her maps within her paintings. But joining the mission makes her a target for the same bigotry and hatred that led to the execution of her father and is steering the country toward a bloody civil war. Interwoven with Sarah's adventure is the present-day story of Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, who moves to an old house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. 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. Sarah and Eden's connection bridges the past and present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love and legacy in a new way"--… (more)

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