6 reviews

The Mapmaker's Children: A Novel
by Sarah McCoy

Published: 2015-05-05
Hardcover : 320 pages
19 members reading this now
5 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 6 members
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Baker's Daughter, 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 ...
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Baker's Daughter, 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.

Editorial Review

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Discussion Questions

1) Have any you ever moved into a house that had a mysterious past or an unexplained component—a trapped door, a secret closet, attic or basement that gave you the heebie-jeebies for reasons you couldn’t explain? Perhaps you found an artifact like Eden. Did you try to determine the historical significance of it? If so, what did you discover. If not, did you have a reason for leaving the past in secret?

2) Women’s roles have come a long way over the last 150 years, yet we still battle stereotypes of how to live and define our families. What similarities do you see in Sarah and Eden’s worlds and what major differences? How do you see yourself as similar or different to each of these women and to those of past generations in your family?

3) Were you previously familiar with the Underground Railroad, John Brown’s Secret Six Committee, the Raid on Harpers Ferry, slave quilt codes and songs, or the greater Abolitionist Movement? As a book group, discuss what elements you’d heard of before and what elements you discovered through reading THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN.

Suggested by Members

The history of John Brown is very interesting when applied to this book, since one of the main characters is his daughter.
by bluehrs (see profile) 10/29/15

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“McCoy deftly intertwines a historical tale with a modern one… lovingly constructed… passionately told… The Mapmaker’s Children not only honors the accomplishments of a little-known woman but artfully demonstrates how fate carries us in unexpected directions, no matter how we might try to map out our lives.” — The Washington Post

“Engaging and emotionally charged… Eden’s realization that ‘what fable and history could agree upon was that everyone was searching for their ever-after, whatever that may be’ neatly sums up the novel’s heart—it’s about the family and the life we create, not always the ones we imagine for ourselves.”


“McCoy carefully juxtaposes the past and the present, highlighting the characters’ true introspection, and slowly revealing the unusual similarities in the two woman’s lives, which leads to a riveting conclusion.”

—Publisher’s Weekly

“Sarah McCoy has illuminated a forgotten corner of American history with her signature empathy and spirit.”

—Mary Doria Russell, New York Times bestselling author of Doc and Epitaph

“I love the way this novel connects the past to the present. At first, these two heroines from different centuries seem to have little in common. But defining moments of bravery and resilience echo across generations for a truly satisfying story.”

—Laura Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Chaperone

“Poignant and deeply absorbing. McCoy weaves this moving tale of two women finding their way with style and thoughtfulness.”

—Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Orange Prize winner The Song of Achilles

“Linking a contemporary woman named Eden with the daughter of abolitionist John Brown is a provocative idea, and McCoy has the skills to pull off something talk-worthy…”

—Library Journal‘s Hot Book Club Reads for Summer 2015

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Mapmaker's Children"by smozer (see profile) 01/12/16

Interesting parallels between the lives of Eden and Sarah despite the time gap between their concerns.

  "The Mapmakers Children"by simlly14 (see profile) 01/12/16

It was an interesting bookclub discussion. One person thought it was sad, but several of us thought it focused on second chances. I liked the strength of the characters. It took me about 50 pages to... (read more)

  "The Mapmaker's Children"by bluehrs (see profile) 10/29/15

Our book club enjoyed this book. The 150 year span that separates the two main characters and the threads that tie them together keep the interest of the reader. I won 10 copies and our club definitely... (read more)

  "Good Read"by eknack (see profile) 09/18/15

I enjoyed the book. There were sad moments, but the book portrayed the joy and happiness that people can find despite the struggles and disappointments in life. It was interesting to see the two plots... (read more)

  "The Mapmaker's Children"by nbaker (see profile) 10/19/16

The Mapmaker’s Children explores the lives of the family of Reverend John Brown, the abolitionist, after he was hung for his role in the massacre at Harper’s Ferry and his efforts to rel... (read more)

by seaelf63 (see profile) 09/16/16

by kottley (see profile) 09/18/15

  "seems to be written for a young adult"by ebach (see profile) 06/09/15

To be fair to this book, I have to review it for a young adult. Then I can compliment its historical fiction that does not delve so far into the history of the Civil War, the Underground Ra... (read more)

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