Published; May 5, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Souce: TLC Book Tours
Recommended for readers looking for a lighter historical fiction novel
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.
Here is an embarrassing confession on my part. When I was a kid, probably 8 or 9, and first heard of the Underground Railroad, I thought it was just that--a railroad that ran underground. Slaves would sneak down underground and catch the train. Just typing that sounds ridiculous and--yes!--I know better now (I knew better about 30 seconds after I first articulated this belief as a child), but every time I think of the Underground Railroad, I think of that.
Now, that really has nothing to do with my reading this book, except that I feel, because I started off in such a strange place with the Underground Railroad, that I should read more about it. I can't say I've come across too many works of fiction about it, so I thought I shouldn't pass this one up.
There are two stories going on here--a modern plot with Eden, who is battling infertility and questioning the future of her marriage, and Sarah, the daughter of John Brown who paints maps for the Underground Railroad. I'll be honest, these two stories, which are interesting on their own, didn't seem to fit together for me until the end of the book. I can't fault McCoy for this because it does ultimately all tie together, but I kind of feel that I should include this when I recommend the book.
Also, this book was a lighter than I expected. It may just be that I tend toward heavier historical fiction, but it took me a little while to get into the groove with this book. However, for someone looking for a light historical novel, this would be right up their alley.
I enjoyed the two main characters. Eden wasn't always likable, but her anguish was understandable and realistic. And I dare anyone who reads this book not to fall in love with Cleo, the neighbor girl who comes on the scene to help with Eden's dog, but is a life rope for Eden. Sarah's story was more interesting to me, but only because Eden is a historical figure working in a period that interests me. McCoy surrounded both women with a colorful cast of supporting characters. As I said, there is Cleo in Eden's story, but also Alice in Sarah's.
This book kept me interested from beginning to end and I think it is a great novel for someone who is especially interested in the Underground Railroad. It is also an excellent choice for people who are new to historical fiction.
About the Author:
Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. 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, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.
GIVEAWAY! Thanks to TLC Book tours, I have one copy of The Mapmaker's Daughter to giveaway. The contest will run until midnight (Pacific Time) on Tuesday, May 12. Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to readers in the US and Canada.