Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Mapmaker's Children

Rate this book
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.

300 pages, Hardcover

First published October 7, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sarah McCoy

11 books1,132 followers
SARAH McCOY is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the novels MUSTIQUE ISLAND, MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES, THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN, THE BAKER'S DAUGHTER, THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO, and "The Branch of Hazel," a novella in GRAND CENTRAL.

The Baker's Daughter was praised as "a beautiful heart-breaking gem of a novel" by Tatiana de Rosnay and "a thoughtful reading experience indeed" by Chris Bohjalian. The Baker's Daughter was a Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club selection and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2012.

Sarah has taught writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She currently lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

For more information on Sarah and her writing, visit her website: http://sarahmccoy.com

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,176 (21%)
4 stars
2,313 (41%)
3 stars
1,583 (28%)
2 stars
382 (6%)
1 star
107 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 946 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah McCoy.
Author 11 books1,132 followers
January 23, 2015
Dear Reader Friends,

As the author, I couldn't give THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN anything less than five stars. Yes, I'm incurably biased. I aim to write nothing less than my absolute best for you-- readers I consider the BEST GoodReaders on earth. I worked harder on this novel than any before, and I'll admit, I'm completely smitten with the main characters: contemporary Eden and the true, historical Sarah Brown.

☆☆☆☆☆ I hope you FIVE-STAR love them, too, and I pray that if Sarah Brown is looking down from above, she gives a twinkling jazz-hand of approval. I was honored to tell her story.

So looking forward to officially sharing this novel with you all on May 5, 2015. Pre-order now and keep your eye to Goodreads giveaway contests for chances to win advance reader copies in the months leading up to release!

Yours truly,
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
November 14, 2014
I really enjoyed Sarah McCoy's The Baker's Daughter so I was happy to have the chance to read an advanced copy of her new novel. She has a wonderful way of creating characters that you love and makes history come alive through them. I was equally taken by her storytelling in this book. .

This is the story of the Underground Railroad and the brave people who helped the courageous runaway slaves find their way to freedom. It's a story about real people and imagined characters, their real and imagined lives that bring to life the reality of John Brown, the staunch abolitionist of Harpers Ferry fame and the history of this country in the 1860’s. The story focuses on Sarah Brown, one of his daughters.

Sarah McCoy in her notes writes of Sarah Brown, “Between her art education and commissioned pieces, there must be something more. But like her life, they seemed to have come and gone without detailed chronicling and, so they’re buried beside the people she aided as an abolitionist, the orphans she nurtured, the family, friends, and local community to whom she remained devoted.” This is Sarah’s story given to us by another Sarah’s imaginative writing and expert research skills.

This is also one of those stories that alternate between the past and the present and in this case the present is 2014. The times are connected by a house, by the head of a porcelain doll, and by ancestors of people in the past. I almost always like the historical story better and I did once again in this case, but one of my favorite characters, next to Sarah, is Cleo, a smart, feisty eleven year old girl who stole my heart in the 2014 story. The present story is Eden Anderson’s story and how she comes to grips with personal struggles with the help of Cleo and a wonderful dog named Cricket.

McCoy of Sarah Brown, also says, “I gained strength in the faith she displayed. I was inspired by her as a creative, independent woman. " I was too, Ms. McCoy. She also says “, I took liberties with some of the historical events and facts. I was more concerned with capturing Sarah’s heart ….” And she did it beautifully! I almost gave this 4 stars because I thought that the ending of Eden’s story was a bit predictable, but decided on 5 stars because I loved the ending of Sarah’s story. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,020 reviews
August 3, 2016
I was so excited to read this book, however I found myself let down. I know I am among the minority in my feelings.

As you know from my reviews I am worn out with the alternating narratives of past and present. Fully aware alternating narratives will not be disappearing anytime soon, however, when they work they are terrific, when they fail, they take down the entire story.

I liked Sarah, I liked her story. Sarah and her family - crusaders against slavery fight with all their might. Their strength, sacrifices along with determination create a fascinating read. In fact the whole entire book could have focused on Sarah and her family and it would have been perfect. Fabulous historical references hold the reader's attention. By far the crux of the book was the Brown's and their firm stance and ultimate goal.

Admittedly I wasn't a fan of Eden. I understand her frustration with infertility but my gosh could she try to be a little kinder and a littler stronger. Right off the bat she is angry and defeated, not exactly gaining fans. Such a disparity between the two - Eden pales in comparison to the stellar Sarah. Precocious young Cleo teaches Eden a few lessons, thank goodness. Cleo steals the show to some degree along with Cricket the canine wingman.

Personally, if McCoy erased Eden taking another direction we would have a great book, as is it failed to stir me. Cleo and Cricket along with Sarah and her family kept me turning the pages hoping for so much more.

No doubt the audience disagrees with me and found much more throughout the narrative and characters than I did.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,322 followers
May 19, 2016
“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”

----Abraham Lincoln

Sarah McCoy, the New York Times bestselling and international best-selling American author, pens her new novel, The Mapmaker's Children , that traces the journey of the daughters of the Brown family, who helped the slaves to find their way to freedom through Underground Railroad, though this is a work of fiction, but the events are inspired from the real Sarah Brown and John Brown who were a slave traders of the late 19th century.


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.

This story alternates between two timeline and between some real characters and imaginary characters. Sarah Brown, John Brown's daughter, who after her father's death row, works hard to keep up her father's legacy to save the Harpers Ferry's slaves and smuggle them out to unknown destinations. Sarah Brown along with her sister, Annie and her friend, Freddy embark on John Brown's footsteps to be a slave-trader. Sarah's life is a painful as well as a liberating journey, who never got married due to a defect that she could never be a mother, thus leaving the love of her life, Freddy, considering both their happiness.

On the other hand, in the present days, we see another woman named, Eden who is going through IVF through ages along with her husband to be a mother in their new town. And while embarking on the hard road to IVFs and hormones, she gave up her old life. But this new town is proving to be a boon for her, when one day her husband brings home a little puppy.

The connection between these two characters is the house in New Charlestown, where in a root cellar Eden found the head of an European doll with a number marked on the face of the doll and an old style button, which leads her and her neighbor named, Cleo to investigate further.

The inter-parallel lives of both these women were not easy and both had to undergo a lot of personal struggles and their common problem which made them almost similar was their inability to become a mother. The author have skillfully and brilliantly depicted the two timelines and never once leaving us confused with the location and the period change.

From the author's evocative writing style, I can comment that the author is a master story-teller who knows what web of mysteries and inter-connected stories she is spinning without getting her readers off the trail. From the very first chapter, I felt completely lost into the story-telling.

The prose is beautifully paced, neither too fast not too slow, and given the fact that this is a historical fiction, the author have moderately detailed all the historical facts into her story without leaving us bored with all the details. Moreover, I felt this was more like an emotional journey of Sarah and Eden and how they overcome the challenges and shortcomings in their lives by standing strong and tall into the face of the storm.

The characters are very well-developed, I mean the way the author have breathed life into a real character, is something really astounding to read about. Sarah's selfless demeanor captivated my mind from the very begining, whereas on the other hand, I was made to feel sorry for Eden with her short-temper and unhappy lifestyle.

The backdrop that the author have portrayed in her book is very vivid and picturesque. The descriptions about Harpers Ferry and New Charlestown both in the present day and in the past are wonderfully captured by the author. In fact every scene inside the household is nicely featured and painted in her story thus letting anyone see through the scenes clearly through their own eyes. In a nutshell, this is a must-read book which will keep anyone engrossed and intrigued till the very end.

Verdict: This poignant and heart-touching story is a must-read for everyone.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Crown Publishing for sending me over a copy of the copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,595 reviews26 followers
March 1, 2018
Quite a disappointment. I was looking forward to a great historical novel about John Brown's daughter, Sarah. It's become so popular to have a split narrative, one historical character and the other current time or at least a different time period. I've read a number of books with this structure and enjoyed them. (As I reflect it seems that women authors do this frequently, but I can't think of any book written by a man that use this technique.). It didn't work for me in this book. I really enjoyed the segments about Sarah Brown, and she seemed a real character. I don't know how much of it is based on historical evidence, however. The current-day character, Eden is a whiny, self-centered woman. I couldn't stand how she treated her husband. In fact the entire current-day portions seemed contrived to me. Read Melinda's review. She says it better than I can. I give it two and a have stars. Most everyone seems to like it; so it's best you read it for yourself if you are interested
Profile Image for TL .
1,790 reviews35 followers
May 11, 2016
The old house on Apple Hill Lane shuddered against the weighty snow that burdened its pitch. The ancient beams moaned their secret pains to the wintering doves in the attic. The nesting duo pushed feathered bosoms together, blinked, and nodded quickly, as if to say, Yes-Yes, we hear, yes-yes,we know, while down deep in the cellar, the metal within the doll's porcelain skull grew crystals along its ridges. Sharp as a knife. The skull did all it could to hold steady against the shattering temperature for just one more minute of one more hour./i>

Rounded up to 4.5 stars, A lovely start to the story :)

The chapters go between modern day with Eden, Jack, Cleo alternating with chapters from the time of Sarah Brown and their dear friends the Hill family. The POV/time swaps never felt awkward at all, seamless actually.. despite a couple mini-cliff hangers between chapters.

Sarah was easy to connect to. Her struggles, talent, courage, and faith... she was/is an incredible woman.

The Hill family and Siby and hers were vibrant people... I fell in love with them and Auntie Nan (she was quite a character as well).

Eden I didn't care for much at the beginning but she grew on me, many times over the novel I wanted to hug her and shake her for some things but I could see where she was coming from, sort of. I was rooting for her and Jack the whole time, crossing my fingers things would work out for them.

Cleo was a fun kid, bonus points she loved reading so much. Eden and Cleo helped each other in a few ways and I loved seeing them grow close.

Cricket: cutest puppy! Loved that little guy <3 Reminded me of my Tasha, sweet furry baby.

It's easy to sink into this and let the pages fly by...the writing style (and I know I've said this before but I mean it each time) is beautiful, bringing you right into everyone's lives. The MCs and the towns came alive for me, making want to drive there and walk down the streets locating everything.

It made me smile to think how everything connected together bit by bit over the course of the book... things seemingly not in common but sort of sitting by each other come together in sometimes unexpected ways. How some of the things survived so long, and passed along the family and still in existence today, what the people before us sacrificed to protect their legacy now.

It's incredible when you think about the history, everything that happened and the amazing people who didn't give up, fought for what was right. Makes me proud that they lived, and sometimes sad because I wish could have met them, known them.

Both stories end on a warm note, which made me smile.. still left me wanting more but that's just a compliment of the storytelling there.

Well done Miss McCoy, I look forward to your other works! *big hugs*

Side note: The recipe at the end and the author's note were nice touches :)
Profile Image for Lori Elliott (catching up).
724 reviews1,764 followers
June 6, 2015
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed both past/present stories... which very rarely happens for me. I have a tendency to enjoy the past story much more than the present one. Many times it feels that the present stories are used as 'fluff' and end up distracting from the 'real' story. However, McCoy did a very good job in creating two very interesting stories and characters that I felt fully invested in. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mish.
222 reviews97 followers
April 3, 2015
The only time I brush up on history is when a lifelike treasure comes along like this book. The Mapmaker’s Children is set in the 1800’s situated around Harpers Ferry and New Charlestown. It weaves fact with fiction to give you a truly captivating story of a group of abolitionist and The Underground Railroad network, who fought to end slavery, and aid slaves in their escape to freedom. This part history is unearthed once again and brought it to life in the 21st century, due to one woman’s discovery and enquiry into porcelain dolls head and other mysterious objects found in her root cellar.

The heart of this story is the courageous Sarah Brown, daughter of the abolitionist leader John Brown. Her involvement in the abolishment movement came about when she over heard her father and his associate trying to convince a runaway the importance of memorising a map.

“We can’t give it to you, lest you be caught and the slave masters discover our stations. Please, my dear, practice your keenest memorization”
“My what?” asked Rolla
“Remember in your mind,” clarified her father associate. “So that day or night, you’ll know the way.”
“I’m trying Mr. Hill, but lines, numbers, words, maps – they all look alike,” she explained. “You ain’t got something with pictures? I does good with pictures.”

This is where Sarah comes in; she used her artistic talent to create art, through paintings, quilts and even children’s toys. To the unknown eye they were just colourful pieces of artwork, but to the network they’re highly critical; they’re maps with hidden codes and symbols to direct runaways on a route to safety.

Sarah McCoy made it clear in the author’s note that she didn’t set out to write a biographical account of Sarah Brown but imagined what her life might have been like. However Sarah’s involvement in the abolishment movement is real, as was her personal artwork and assigned one’s for the cause. And I praise McCoy of her interpretation of Sarah Brown life, McCoy showed the upmost respect for Brown and it radiated through in her spectacular writing. Sarah Brown was an intelligent and compassionate woman of her time; sacrificed her happiness for the man she loves, and took risked for her fellow allies and what she believed in. Where as women of that era would not think of interfering – not a woman’s duty, leave it to the men!

The story shift back and forward in time to a modern day era, centres on a woman called Eden Anderson. The similarity between Eden and Sarah is that they’re unable to bear children. Eden has been on the fertility program for several years without success. The hormone replacement drugs, the miscarriages, the disappointments year after year are taking its toll on her marriage. Her doctor suggested a change of scenery; a calm place away from the hectic city living. And that’s when the Anderson’s move into an old home in New Charlestown where hidden treasure’s are uncovered.

While Sarah story is intriguing, Eden story touched me in a way that resonates. Both women are trying to clarify what it means to them - not having children that they eagerly crave for – and what it means to their relationship/partners; how to find that ‘one thing’ to help them move on - and that’s what I loved; they find it in the most unexpected ways.

McCoy description of the backdrop and New Charleston is so beautifully; vivid and picturesque in both eras. I loved the warmth, and harmony of the town folk of Eden’s time and their acceptance of her with open arms – it did well for Eden self-esteem and motivation and was very uplifting. You could feel the difference in dynamic within New Charleston in Eden’s time compared to Sarah’s time; it’s during the Civil War, there was a lack of food and divided views on slavery which made the atmosphere aggressive and frightening but picturesque nonetheless. McCoy’s characters are well defined, likable but not without faults which made them feel real and alive.

Wonderful and engaging story and I’m so glad that I found Sarah McCoy.
Profile Image for Melissa Crytzer Fry.
312 reviews335 followers
April 5, 2015
I am a big fan of the dual-period novel – especially when authors can braid together stories of past and present with what appears to be great ease. Author Sarah McCoy is among those talented individuals (adored The Baker’s Daughter, another dual-period novel). Blending the contemporary with the historical is such an engaging way to learn more about American (and world) history, and we should celebrate and devour these books!

Despite my fascination with the Underground Railroad after visiting once-lost-but-newly-found relatives on the family tree (we drove past several fabled UGRR farmhouses in PA), I didn’t know much about the operations behind the safe havens. McCoy’s book sheds light on the heroic conductors of the UGRR and – most notably – John Brown and his children. Anyone who has read about Civil War history knows abolitionist John Brown, but few know about his daughter, Sarah.

It is her story – both historical and imagined – that is intertwined with the story of a contemporary woman, Eden. With expert stitchery, McCoy tucks and hems, aligning themes and experiences between two women, despite the decade-and-a-half separating them. It isn’t until the end of the book that the reader fully understands the connections to past and present. This book has something for everyone; it’s a story of love, animal companionship, history, lore and acceptance.

Readers of contemporary women’s fiction will enjoy the present story, and those interested in the past will find themselves engaged with a historical story that is accessibly written and a quick read.

Thanks go to Goodreads First Reads program for the advance copy (and to Read it Forward, from the publisher). So happy to have gotten an early preview of this book!
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
780 reviews12.2k followers
June 14, 2015
The late 1850's and 2014 are woven together to tell Sarah Brown's story in the Mapmaker's Children. Sarah, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, uses her artistic abilities to paint maps to assist those traveling on the Underground Railroad. When Sarah travels to New Charlestown, West Virginia with her mother and sister to Annie to visit her father before his execution, she meets the Hill family and falls in love with Freddy Hill. Circumstances keep Sarah and Freddy apart, but their story, which covers the civil war, continues through letters.

In 2014, Eden and Jack Anderson move into the Hill house in New Charlestown. Their marriage is strained due to their inability to conceive. Eden finds a a doll's head in the old root cellar, leading her to uncover Sarah Brown's role in the Underground Railroad.

I really enjoyed this book. I was sucked in from the first page and couldn't put it down! There are some historical inaccuracies, but McCoy makes it known that this is a fictional account of Sarah Brown's life. I highly recommend!
Profile Image for Carol Brill.
Author 3 books154 followers
February 10, 2016
3.5...The Story alternates between the mid-1800's and 2014. The historical part is told from the point of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown. The present day story is told by Eden Anderson, who is mourning the loss of an unborn child and has just moved to New Charleston with her husband of 7 years, Jack.

The author does a good job using language that creates a strong sense of the different time periods. Sarah is an artist who helps her abolitionist father by drawing maps to help slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. I enjoyed learning the ingenious ways these maps were hidden in dolls features.
At times Eden's behavior felt contrived and immature. Cleo, the little girl next door who lives with her grandfather was an interesting character. The development of the relationship between Cleo and Eden felt predictable. Their creation of a dog biscuit business was an interesting twist.
Eventually the storylines are connected when Eden and Cleo explore the origins of a mysterious doll's head with the help of a neighbor and historian, Ms. Silverdash.
September 4, 2016
I’m not a huge fan of split narratives. I feel as if one narrative overshadows the other, certainly was the case in this instance.

I found Sarah Brown and her family’s narrative of the past riveting and fascinating. Abolitionists, risking all to annihilate slavery as well helping slaves escape. Historical facts cited made for a wonderful narrative along with an intriguing cast of characters. I wasn’t thrilled or taken with Eden and her present day narrative. Her poor attitude, anger failed to win me over. Her infertility issue become overbearing and frankly I tiered of hearing her woe is me attitude. In other words, I didn’t like Eden, comparing her to Sarah is similar to night and day with Sarah winning. I found Cleo and Cricket a breath of fresh air adding a soft touch to the rough and jagged edges of Eden. No doubt Cleo and Cricket deserve accolades as opposed to the surly Eden.

The Brown family, specifically Sarah and their story really made the book, in fact I wish McCoy centered the entire narrative on the Browns and omitted Eden completely. Eden drew more away from the plot as opposed to adding anything of merit.

“We can’t force life to do what we want when we want it. We can’t change yesterday or control tomorrow. We can only live today as best we can. And it just might turn out better than expected.”

Disappointing nonetheless an enjoyable read despite my misgivings. I expected more instead I was handed less. I’m sure you will feel differently in your reading adventure.

For this and other reviews visit http://ravenhairedgirl.com
Profile Image for littleprettybooks.
894 reviews295 followers
February 14, 2016

Sarah McCoy ne me déçoit décidément jamais. Deux époques éloignées, deux personnages féminins forts et très attachants, j’ai été conquise. L’auteur nous plonge dans la guerre de sécession et dans la vie de Sarah Brown, mais également dans celle d’Eden qui doit accepter qu’elle ne peut pas avoir d’enfants et qui doit se battre pour son couple. Le lien qui les unit est très beau et l’ensemble m’a bouleversée.

Ma chronique : https://myprettybooks.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Myriam.
414 reviews291 followers
February 29, 2016
Magnifique. Ce roman mêle à la perfection les destins parallèles de deux femmes que deux siècles séparent. Par des alternances de points de vue selon les chapitres, le lecteur est tour à tour transporté aux côtés de Sarah en 1859 et d'Eden en 2014.
Sarah, la fille du célèbre défenseur de l'abolition de l'esclavage John Brown, s'engagea toute sa vie pour reprendre le flambeau de cette noble cause. Eden et son mari emménagent dans la ville de New Charlestown et de nombreux indices vont faire ressurgir le passé depuis longtemps enfoui.
Ce roman est l'histoire de la quête pour ces deux femmes, malgré les siècles qui les séparent, de liberté et du véritable sens de leur vie.
L'écriture de Sarah McCoy nous emporte. Ce livre se lit en prenant le temps d'en savourer tout le parfum des univers qui y sont recréés pour nous.

Chronique : http://unjour-unlivre.fr/2016/02/un-p...
Profile Image for Angie Reisetter.
506 reviews6 followers
May 7, 2015
The Mapmaker's Children is an enjoyable 2-tiered story, one in modern-day West Virginia and one in 1850s-60s West Virginia and New England centered on Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame. There are connections between the two stories that are revealed in the course of the book and I thought the historical 19th century story was particularly interesting.

I didn't give it more stars because of the simplicity of the language/story-telling and the fact that I never could come to like the main modern character Eden. I know, it's one of those things where the main character starts off in a bad place and grows and learns and changes during the course of the book, but I disliked her so much in the beginning that I never warmed to her. She was a caricature for me more than a character. But it's an easy read and interesting, so it's still under the category of "I liked it".

I got a free copy of this from FirstReads.
Profile Image for Annette.
742 reviews321 followers
September 18, 2019
The story alternates between present day and 19th century. The present day story is very weak from the very beginning; the characters and their story are not interesting. The past time story of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, starts somehow interesting, but quickly becomes disengaging. Gave up after 15% of the book.
Profile Image for Deborah Blanchard.
380 reviews85 followers
March 17, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,105 reviews1,741 followers
July 3, 2015
Sarah McCoy's "The Baker's Daughter" is one of my all time favorite books. I was hoping that this effort would be added to that list, but sadly, I would have to disagree with the majority of the reviews. I enjoyed learning how children's dolls were used as maps to help slaves find their way to freedom through the Underground Railroads, and how Sarah Brown devoted herself to this cause. But, the present day portion of the book lacked a sympathetic character that you could root for. Sarah was a woman who displayed courage and self sacrifice throughout her life. Eden was self serving-certainly not Sarah's modern day counterpart. When she finds the doll, her thoughts are "what can this doll do for me?" Sarah's true counterpart would have been been a woman whose first thought might have been "what did this doll do for others?"as she proceeded to uncover the doll's history...
Profile Image for Myrna.
705 reviews
April 14, 2016
As a big fan of historical fiction (and Sarah's previous novel), I had great hopes for this book. However, it didn't WOW me. It's a character driven, sentimental novel with an interesting way of weaving two different storylines. Sarah Brown's story took awhile to become engaging and I was hoping for more accounts of The Underground Railroad. I also seem to be in the minority of liking the 2014 story more than the historical one. I say it is a good book - but it didn't live up to my expectations. I highly recommend her previous novel, The Baker 's Daughter.
Profile Image for Suanne Laqueur.
Author 23 books1,488 followers
February 16, 2018
2.5 stars. This book had such a great premise but it missed the mark for me. The Civil War sections with Sarah Brown worked perfectly—the writing, the historical detail, the tone, the storyline. Left on their own, this could've been a four-star book. But the present-day sections just flopped. They were filled with nonsense—babies and puppies, cookie-cutter characters, lack of communication. I didn't connect with Eden at all, and she ended up dragging the whole book down to a weak finish. Still, I was bummed to find no Wikipedia entry on Sarah Brown because I'm curious about her now.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
219 reviews35.9k followers
December 15, 2014
You've got to love a book which inspires you to spend time afterwards learning more about the historical characters in the story. The Mapmaker's Children introduced me to a part of America's history with names that I'd heard of but never really learned about (having grown up outside the States): John Brown, Harper's Ferry and the abolition movement. Plucky, clever, determined Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown, was the wonderful main character.

There are two stories going on in this book, one in the 1800s and one in the 21st century. Unlike some other books I've read, the jumping back and forth worked well. I was interested in both stories and really liked the way they were interwoven, dropping hints and details from both time periods that helped build up a better understanding of what was happening/had happened. It also - to use a cliche - brought history to life. Sometimes the modern-day characters would refer to something historical. Soon after, you'd actually find yourself living it with the characters in the 1800s - which made it real in a way that might not have happened otherwise.

This book also had a quote about grief which really stood out for me:

He let her cry without offering trite condolences. She'd been the recipient of the gamut of them when her father died, each a hollow bell of no solace. From the pillow-embroidered reflections - "Better to have loved and lost" - to the biblical - "You must be strong through the Valley of the Shadow of Death" - they did so little but force the sufferer into a position of gratitude: "Thank you so, so much for your kindness." When all you felt was ... loss. Deep, unrelenting loss. That kind of despair frightened people. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances feared it was catching like a virus, so they'd put on sterile gloves to hand out the "Our thoughts are with you" when really their thoughts were sprinting away as fast as possible. It was too painful to recognize: mortality.

I was left with one question though:

Thanks to Crown Publishing for the advanced reader copy.

Profile Image for RoseMary Achey.
1,346 reviews
July 10, 2015

Mary Ann Brown with Annie (left) and Sarah (right) about 1851. Library of Congress<br />
Mary Ann Brown with Annie (left) and Sarah (right) about 1851. Library of Congress

The mapmaker is Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist, John Brown. She creates maps on the faces of children's dolls that assist runaway slaves find their way to freedom.

Fast forward to current day-Eden Anderson moves into a very old house in West Virginia and finds a strange looking doll's head in her root cellar...and we have the perfect set-up for a dual-time novel.

Sarah's story rang much truer than Eden's to me. Or perhaps Sarah is an easier character to like. Eden seemed a bit immature and took all her frustrations out on her very loving and kind husband. Both characters were united in their inability to have children and of course by the historic house.

An overall strong book that should keep you turning the pages.
28 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2015
The reviews about this book here on goodreads are all very appraising. It makes me wonder have I read the same book as all these people?? I was so confused with this book, couldn't get the two story lines in check with one another, and the person of Eden didn't feel 'real' to me. I enjoyed The Baker's Daughter a lot, so I was really looking forward to reading this book, but I am sorry to say that I was pretty disappointed.
Profile Image for Barbara.
645 reviews48 followers
May 8, 2016
Ms. McCoy has created a lovely tapestry of a story in The Mapmaker's Children. I love when an author brings in an historical character into a fiction story and you can tell they have done their research. Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, leaps off the pages and fits perfectly with the character of Eden in the present day chapters. The author has managed to tie everything together cohesively. It's completely believable. A wonderful read.
Profile Image for Pam Jenoff.
Author 26 books5,050 followers
November 12, 2016
I adored this book, which waves together a modern tale of Eden, a woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, and the historic mystery she uncovers of Sarah Brown, the abolitionist's daughter who uses her artistic talents to create maps for slaves fleeing north. Sensitive, nuanced and ingeniously sewn together to form an emotional wonder.
Profile Image for Sarina Morrhaye.
288 reviews
March 8, 2019
Waarom heb ik toch zolang gewacht met deze te lezen??? Wat een mooie roman waarin twee werelden magistraal tegenover elkaar gezet worden, maar uiteindelijk toch knap samen komen.
En ohjaa...wees maar zeker dat ik dat recept eens ga uitproberen. Eens zien of mijn bullen ze ook zo lekker vinden als Cricket 😁😁
October 5, 2014
What an amazing read! The author's gift for storytelling left me spellbound as she made each character, place and event come to life. I love a book that, once completed, keeps me thinking about what might have happened if the story had continued.
Profile Image for Maya B.
493 reviews54 followers
June 22, 2015
This was an ok read. I did not like the alternating chapters. first chapter in the present, next chapter in the past and so on. I felt like the whole book would have been better if the entire story was written in past tense.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,650 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 31, 2015
Pages read: 36

Since I loved The Baker's Daughter, The Mapmaker's Children was a must-read. Unfortunately, this one just isn't working for me. Though I think I would like Sarah's historical half of the book, the more contemporary timeline I already loathe. Eden's narration is off-putting and about a subject that doesn't interest me (her desire to have a baby and frustration with her marriage).

I'm finding myself super unwilling to pick this one up and read it, which is a sign that I need to move on.

It's not you; it's me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 946 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.