Monday, March 07, 2016

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

I'll admit I was one-third of the way through Sarah McCoy's novel The Mapmaker's Children before the characters caught my interest. It was the juxtaposition of the modern story in New Charlestown, West Virginia with the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, that finally drew me in. What was the connection between these two women?

It was a house. The Andersons, Jack and Eden, bought that house. Eden left her job in public relations in New York City with dreams of having babies and raising a family. New Charlestown seemed to be a welcoming town. It was just as welcoming to the Brown family after John Brown's failed expedition to Harper's Ferry. John Brown's wife, Mary, traveled there with her daughters Annie and Sarah. Sons had been killed or fled. John Brown was mortally wounded, awaiting execution. And, the women in the family traveled to stay with the Hill family, fellow believers in "The Great Abolition Calling".

Sarah was the daughter who fervently believed. After almost dying from dysentery, she "had risen a new person, tired of being on the outskirts". Somehow, she would find a way to actively support the abolitionist movement. It was there in New Charlestown that she discovered the love of her life, and realized she had something to offer the movement, her skill as an artist.

The Mapmaker's Children, though, is the story of two women, both who once had dreams of being mothers. While the house is a common point in the story, it's also the struggle and loss of dreams that unite the two women. And, it's the act of reaching for a new dream that unites them.

At times, Sarah Brown was too passionate in her beliefs for me. At times, Eden was too angry. But, the house in New Charlestown has secrets to share with both of them. When the reader discovers those secrets, The Mapmaker's Children becomes more than a tract for the abolitionist movement.

It's some of the supporting cast that bring these secrets to life, Alice Hill, the daughter of the Hill family, and Eden's neighbor, Cleo. Cleo intrudes on Eden's grief, and worms her way into her heart, and the reader's heart. Sometime, Cleo deserves her own story.

The Mapmaker's Children may have started as Sarah Brown's story, but, for this reader, it's Eden who stood out. Even so, both women made a powerful journey through life, a memorable story.

Sarah McCoy's website is

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy. Broadway Books. 2015. ISBN 9780385348928 (paperback), 326p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received this book to participate in the TLC Book Tour.


Reine said...

Lesa, I love the premise of this book and must get it!

Thank you!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Reine! Hugs, my friend.

trish said...

It's interesting how some minor characters can become the 'main' characters for certain readers.

Thank you for being on this tour!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Trish. It is interesting to see how we readers react.