The Mapmaker's Children: A Novel

The Mapmaker's Children: A Novel

by Sarah McCoy


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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Baker's Daughter and Marilla of Green Gables, a story of family, love, and courage

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385348928
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/09/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 252,805
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

SARAH McCOY is the New York Times bestselling author of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee The Baker's Daughter and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and their dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas.

Customer Reviews

The Mapmaker's Children 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
SharonChance More than 1 year ago
With her third book, "The Mapmaker's Children," author Sarah McCoy once again shares her love of the written word and her masterful storytelling skills with the world with a breathtaking novel that will remain with readers long after the final page is turned. This story, which is based partly on the real life story of abolitionist John Brown's daughter, travels back and forth from the past to the present as two young women attempt to find their places in life as they tackle the unique history and problems of their time. They also are both looking for a way to keep their families together and find the love they know is the key to their future happiness. Sarah once again populates her amazing story with fascinating characters, and employs her gift of creating descriptive and imaginative settings that are so wonderfully memorable. I highly recommend not only this novel, but any and everything that Sarah McCoy writes. She is one of the most talented of the up and coming authors of our current generation and it is a pleasure to watch her star continue to shine so brightly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't often give 5 stars but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even when I had to break away from it, Edens and most often Sarah were on my mind.
Cecile-Sune-Book-Obsessed More than 1 year ago
It is 1859 in North Elba, NY, and John Brown is actively helping slaves escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad. His daughter, Sarah, has just learnt that she can’t have children after a recent bout of dysentery, and she is more determined than ever to help her father, using her artistic abilities to draw maps to show slaves the way to safety. In a parallel story, in the summer of 2014, Eden is emerging from a deep depression after unsuccessfully trying to conceive with her husband Jack. They have just moved into an old house in New Charleston, West Virginia, when Jack shows up with a puppy and hires Cleo, the chatty 10-year-old neighbor, to help care for the dog. Soon, Eden discovers an antique doll’s head hidden in the root cellar. Where does it come from? How did it end up there, and why is it missing its body? “A dog is not a child”. This sentence came to Sarah McCoy 4 years ago and developed over time into The Mapmaker’s Children. The contemporary characters Eden and Jack came to her first, then the author got interested in John Brown and his daughter. She decided to tell the story with chapters alternating between Sarah and Eden, two courageous and determined women linked by history and by the fact they can’t have children. The book takes place in an interesting period of US history, right before and during the Civil War, and it is refreshing to see it through the eyes of 2 different women from very different times. Sarah Brown is based on the real-life daughter of John Brown. While naive at the beginning of the novel, she develops into a smart and independent woman. Eden is not a very likable character at first, as she seems very selfish and withdrawn. However, as the story unfolds, she emerges from the depression and anger of not being able to conceive. The Mapmaker’s Children is compelling, and the ending is satisfying and realistic. As always, I enjoyed the literary references made throughout the book to Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Hans Christian Andersen, and Mary Artemisia Lathbury. I only wish there was more information on the way the Underground Railroad operated, perhaps by further developing George and Freddy Hill’s characters (friends of the Browns). On the whole though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Mapmaker’s Children was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.
bookworm1954DB More than 1 year ago
First of all, I would like to thank NetGalley for allowing me the honor of reading this book. I have been a fan of Sarah's books ever since I first read "The Bakers' Daughter" a few years ago. Sarah epitomizes what historical fiction should be and blends truth with fiction flawlessly. This book kept me reading well into the night for many nights. The characters that she creates are so realistic, that I felt a part of this amazing book. I truly enjoyed the way each chapter switched from past to present without breaking up the wonderful flow of this magnificent book. We have all heard of the Underground Railroad, however, you must read this book to put faces with the history that encapsulates those two words. These may be characters in a book, though based on some factual people, but they put faces and words to what it was truly like to live during this time in our history. This book makes it more real to me than any history book could ever do. I applaud Sarah for her masterful storytelling and her uncanny ability to bring the past to life. I really can't say enough about this incredible book, except to buy it. Read this book, no, savor every single page of it. It was an honor for me to read. Thank you, Sarah McCoy, for never failing to impress me. You are a very gifted author and I will be reading every single book you write. You put your heart and soul onto every page and it is felt within every word. Please do not miss out on this amazing book. It would truly be your loss to do so. Again, Thank You Sarah McCoy, for being the amazing person and writer that you are. I feel truly blessed to have read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story of strong women and overcoming obstacles. Enjoyed it immensensly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every one who still likes books without foul language this is a real treat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
This book was a bit of a challenge to get through. It is a flip flop back and forth between a modern day woman, Eden and a Civil War era woman, Sarah. The house Eden lives in along with a porcelain doll head found in its cellar is the key that ties them together. I enjoyed the story of Sarah Brown and the part she played in the underground railroad. It was very interesting to read how she drew picture maps for those who needed to know the way to freedom, and used her talents to come up with creative ways to make maps on items other than paper. I also enjoyed the letters she wrote back and forth to Freddy, her friend who was also involved in helping the slaves achieve freedom. Her story is inspiring. She was a selfless, caring, very motivated woman who worked hard to support the cause her father gave his life for. I was not as impressed with Eden's story. Sometimes flip-flopping back and forth works in a book, but I was distracted with his and finally just read every other chapter to grasp the whole of Sarah's story at one time. Another thing that kind of turned me off was the use of some language in the book that I personally tend to shy away from. Most of the time, I would not choose to read a book with language, but I did not realize this book contained it. The story, itself, looked quite appealing, as I am intrigued with history and enjoy reading historical novels. This was just not one of those I-can't-put-this-book-down kind of reads for me. Of course, it's all a matter of taste, so others may enjoy the book more than I did. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! It was really hard for me to get into for the first 5-6 chapters but once you finally get in the flow of the story and understand what is going on it was a have to finish now situation! The reason that I was unable to follow the story until that far into the book was because the author had several characters that were involved in the main plot line, so those first few chapters had me scratching my head as to who that person was and what part do they have in the overall storyline. Another reason for my dislike of the first few chapters was that it was an alternating story in each chapter. One chapter started out in the 1800's setting up the story for what was to come and give you the background of how the whole story would eventually tie together. The second chapter was in the year 2014 with entirely different characters and an entirely different situation was going on. I really had to force myself to get through these first chapters. There was so much information packed into these opening chapters that it was really confusing and made me not want to keep reading. But I am so glad that I powered through and finished the book!! Once you get past the opening introductions of the intertwining stories, it is truly a magical, eye opening story. I love the way she paints the story of historical events, love, sorrow and truly the blooming of the past into the lives of the present characters. It is truly amazing, I laughed, I cried and I was angry throughout the entire book. I fell in love with both the past and the present characters and found myself immersed in their world. I lost myself in their sorrows and their triumphs, rooting for everything to turn out just how it was supposed to be. My heart broke for the characters, but was uplifted by the overall message of the book. Never give up.. That is really what this book is about, overcoming the odds and never giving up. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with the disclaimer of get past the informative chapters and it will steal your heart! A very well written book that needs to be in your to-read stack!!!!
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
This book started off slow for me, but once it began picking up, I was hooked. It is the perfect kind of historical fiction. It alternates between the past and the present with letters and newspaper articles sometimes in between chapters. The present day story is about Eden and Jack who recently moved to New Charlestown, West Virginia. They are unknowingly occupying the former house of the Hills, key players in the Underground Railroad. Eden is deeply depressed and withdrawn from Jack after years of trying to have a child. The story in the past is of Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown, the rest of the family, and their good friends, the Hills. Sarah is a very talented artist, and she assists in the Underground Railroad by drawing maps for runaway slaves. I enjoyed both stories, but I was always anxious for more of Sarah's story. I found the history fascinating, and the tortured romance between Sarah and Freddy Hill left me wanting more. Their letters were just so wonderful. Both women are barren, and they're struggling with finding purpose in life without children. Sarah invests herself in her art and the Underground Railroad. Eden makes friends with a neighbor girl and seeks comfort in her new puppy. The writing in this book was almost literary fiction, so it took me a little longer to read than I would have hoped for a book that is only 300 pages. I really enjoyed the stories, especially once I got about 100 pages in. The details in the writing were amazing. Small things would carry forward between one time period to the next, which was unexpected and impressive. I need to check out more of McCoy's work. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more history uncovered in the present, but I guess it was believable.
directorgirl11386 More than 1 year ago
Historical stories are the type of books I always turn to. I saw that Sarah McCoy came out with another book called The Mapmaker’s Children. I loved her book, The Baker’s Daughter, so I couldn’t wait to read it. The Mapmaker’s Children is about two strong women who dealt with not being able to bear children and dealing with relationships. Sarah Brown is an abolitionist and feminist who helped the underground railroad during the Civil War by drawing maps on wooden, porcelain dolls’ faces. Her story is intertwined with Eden’s story struggling with marriage problems due to having miscarriages. Eden’s story is taken place in the year of 2014. At the end of the book, Sarah McCoy explained that Sarah Brown is a real person in history. She was a gifted artist, an early feminist, abolitionist, and was familiar with all of the leading men of the Underground Railroad. If I knew the book didn’t focus on Sarah Brown’s story I most likely wouldn’t have gotten the book. I was really disappointed because the focus was more on Eden’s story. I’m not saying Eden’s story was boring because it wasn’t. It just I thought it was more about the Underground Railroad. I understand why McCoy put these stories together, but I wasn’t a fan of that decision. I see why McCoy put both of these stories together. Both women suffered a great deal of sadness. They both couldn’t bear children. Again, I was disappointed that Sarah Brown’s story was shorter. I wanted more detail and information. In some aspect I wish they were separate books. I also had a hard time with the characters because all the characters in the book seemed the same. The way they talked and their actions were the same even with the differences in the time period. This book would make a great book for your book club because there are a list of questions at the end of the book for discussion. Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was not a bad book. It just wasn’t what I expected.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Mapmaker's Children is such an amazing read. I love how the story was intertwined with past and present. Great book! Five stars
A_Wondrous_Bookshelf More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Sarah Brown daughter of abolitionist John Brown. She is one of the Underground Railroad's leading mapmakers. After learning the shocking news that she cannot bear children, she starts to create maps and hide them in her paintings helping save the lives of slaves fleeing north. The narrative is split between 1850-60s West Virginia and the present day. The flow of the narrative worked well for this novel, with Sarah Brown's narrative of the past being better developed than the present day story. Overall, this style of narrative brought the characters to life and made it to a very interesting story. I certainly recommend this book even if you are not a huge fan of historical fiction. I really enjoy Sarah McCoy's The Mapmaker's Children. This book pulled me right in from the very first pages. The characters are vivid and believable. A perfect blend of real historical people and fictional characters.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received this ARC from Random House and Sarah McCoy as a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you so much for sharing this novel with me! This book was enjoyable on two levels. I am comfortable recommending it to both those readers who enjoy romantic fiction, and historical romance. Both stories take place in the same historic home in New Charleston, West Virginia. In the 1860's that home is owned by the Hill family, who along with two other families in New Charleston are heavily invested in the Underground Railroad. They host the family of John Brown during his trial and after he is found guilty of treason and sentenced to hang, beginning a friendship that carries on over the generations, and involves the daughter Sarah in the UGRR as the painter of the camouflaged maps given to the runaway slaves to help make their way safely north. Alternating chapters cover the new purchase of the house by a shell-shocked couple who have been though their own wars - six or eight years of attempting to become pregnant and carry the baby to term. The characters at both levels are fully fleshed, personable and empathetic. The transition from one to another level of the tale is smooth and easy. The use of correspondence to slip from one level to another of the tale is my favorite part. This is a book to curl up with on a rainy day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the storyline and how McCoy writes the story in such a way that you connect with her characters. I also really liked how she included some of her research on Sarah Brown at the end the book for those who were interested. However, I do have one con. It took a couple of chapters for me to really get into it but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. So if it seems kinda boring at first, keep on keeping on and eventually it will get better! While it is a hardcover book, it does have a removable paper cover. The pages have that really cool aged, “ripped” edge to them. The book itself feels nice and sturdy in your hands. I can’t wait to read it again! Visit my blog for a full review:
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A dual narrative with one story taking place right before the Civil War begins and a current story line that from the start of the book intersect and weave in and out of each other. Sarah Brown is a gifted artist and a daughter of John Brown an up and coming abolitionist. Eden is our modern day character and she has moved into an old home and is finding hidden things in the home to help her uncover the secret history of this home and town she is living in. Usually when reading a dual narrative, I fall in love with one character and shy away from the other, but in this book both narrators and their stories were equally interesting. I loved the apparent similarities between the characters and how Eden's discoveries help unfold Sarah's story. The puzzle pieces were revealed at just the right time with enough anticipation, but not feeling like the author was holding things for too long.
MisfitGeek More than 1 year ago
This is a truly delightful book. I really enjoyed the mix of modern and historical. Sarah McCoy definitely did a wonderful job of tying the two stories together. Although I ended up liking both the stories, I have to admit to liking the Sarah Brown story better. I love that McCoy chose this extraordinary woman to write about. I particularly enjoyed the Author’s Note in the book where she describes the journey of researching this historical figure. The connection she felt really shows through in her writing. I was not fond of Eden to begin with. I had a hard time with her extreme anger. I found that I warmed to her quite quickly when she started interacting with Cleo and then with Cricket. In the end it was quite a fascinating journey to watch her work through her grief. I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to both historical fiction fans and contemporary fiction fans. Sarah McCoy is a very gifted storyteller and this second novel has firmly established her as one of my favorite authors. I look forward to what she may create in the future. I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CathieArms More than 1 year ago
Great read!  The story alternates between two main characters:  Civil War-era Sarah Brown and 21st Century Eden Anderson.  Sarah Brown is the daughter of the infamous John Brown, a high-profile abolitionist who led — and was later hanged — for leading the slave uprising at Harper’s Ferry in the days leading up to the Civil War.  In the 21st Century, Eden Anderson is a woman trying to reconcile her “personal failure” at her inability to conceive a child.  She moves into a Civil War-era home and finds artifacts tied directly to the time period of Sarah Brown.  While the two women appear to have nothing in common, they share the burden of their inability to conceive children and the heartache their infertilities cause. I’m normally a fast reader, but McCoy’s writing caused me to slow down significantly.  I just couldn’t get over the beauty of her writing and needed to slow down to savor it.  The passages were descriptive enough to give a vivid image of the scenery without being superfluous and overly “flowery.”  Each word appeared to’ve been selected with deliberate intent, rather than trying to impress the reader with her vocabulary.  It was just nothing short of gorgeous and made me want to slow down to read more carefully. As a reader who especially enjoys historical fiction, I always “grade” the overall appeal of the book by whether it makes me want to know more about the historical characters or time period.  If I want to sit down and google the “real” characters or backdrop before I’ve even finished the book, then I know that the author has truly captured me as a reader; and that’s exactly what McCoy did.  Using the historically prominent characters and the  Underground Railroad (UGRR) as historical backdrop, I was drawn into the historical end of the story.  I was fascinated by not only the story she was telling about the two women, but also the real story of these people and the UGRR.  I wanted to know more…not only about both women, but about the history that eventually would tie them together.  All I can say is that it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where the author so beautifully weaved the history of the past with fictional characters of the present. The Mapmaker’s Children is a novel I would strongly and very enthusiastically recommend to my reading friends.
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
The Mapmaker’s Children is dramatic, intriguing, and full of emotion! Sarah McCoy skillfully weaves fact and fiction together in this dual time-period narrative. I love historical fiction, so I really enjoyed the history of Sarah Brown and her family and their work with the Underground Railroad. While the historical story line was my favorite, I also enjoyed the contemporary story line and the threads that tied the past and present together. I really enjoyed this compelling story and look forward to reading more from this talented author! I received a complimentary copy of this book through Blogging for Books and appreciate the opportunity to offer my honest opinion.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Although this is a fictional account you will feel like your actually living history, especially with the account of Sarah Brown. She is an actual person, daughter of the Under Ground Railroad and abolitionist John Brown. I felt I was a part of this history, and walked in Sarah’s shoes, her ups and downs and a lot of heart ache. A talent that she uses for the good of humanity, and the risks she takes with her own life. The author has done such a wonderful job, and I loved how she crossed the enemy lines in her disguise. The stories are tied together in an unusual way, finding a piece of Sarah’s work in a root cellar, and infertility binds the past and the present. The present being a young couple doing everything possible to have a child of their own, and the heartbreak of infertility. We wind back and forth between the past and the present, Eden and her quest, and follow their lives as they come to terms to what has been their lot in life. How they accept what is given to the makes this book a compelling read. I greatly enjoyed this book, and want to read more by Sarah McCoy and I loved her author notes at the end of this book. I received this book through Blogging For Books and was not required to give a positive review.
mrsboone4 More than 1 year ago
The Mapmaker's Children has moments in it that make you want to cry, others that make you mad, and more that make you happy.  It is the twisting of two intertwined stories, Sarah Brown's one of the 1850's past & Eden's one of contemporary time.  The two go into a lot of detail & you feel like you are right there in the story with them.  Then they are all tied in together.  Sarah McCoy really sets it all up well. Sarah's family is involved in the UnderGround RailRoad, at a time when it was not safe to do so.  Sarah's father John is caught, convicted and killed for his role in helping slaves escape.  Sarah is an artist who makes maps for the fugitive slaves to follow.  Since most cannot read, she makes simple pictures of the routes to take. Eden is caught up in a lot of turmoil, because she has always wanted a baby & has undergone fertility treatments & hormones and her life is a mess.  Her husband loves her, so things will be okay, if she can get past wanting a child.