The Mapmaker’s Children

The Mapmaker's Children

by Sarah McCoy
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Published on May 5th 2015
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover Source: Library
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"The Mapmaker's Children is the story of Sarah Brown, the vibrant, talented daughter of abolitionist John Brown. Her conventional life trajectory is dynamically changed when she's told the shocking news that she can't bear children and stumbles into her father's work on the Underground Railroad. Realizing that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the movement's leading mapmakers. Since many runaways are unable to read and cannot carry obvious maps demarcating safe houses, Sarah takes her cues from the slave code quilts of her abolitionist colleagues, hiding her maps within her paintings. But joining the mission makes her a target for the same bigotry and hatred that led to the execution of her father and is steering the country toward a bloody civil war. Interwoven with Sarah's adventure is the present-day story of Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, who moves to an old house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. 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. Sarah and Eden's connection bridges the past and present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love and legacy in a new way"--

It is 2015.  Can we please move away from the idea that a woman’s worth is tied solely to her ability to reproduce?

I understand that feeling being expressed in the historical parts of this novel but I just don’t get it in the contemporary section.

By the way, Sarah Brown’s doctor tells her that she is infertile after a bad bout of dysentery.  I’m not certain but I can’t see how dysentery could cause that and even if it did -  how would a 19th century doctor be able to determine that?  I call B.S. on that doctor — especially if it is true that she made her decision not to marry based on his info.  She didn’t even try making babies to see if his diagnosis was true or not.

I liked the parts of this book about the Browns so I decided to go on a field trip. Ever since I moved here three years ago I’ve been passing a sign on the highway for the John Brown House.  I didn’t know he had lived in Ohio.  This is talked about briefly in the book.  Basically, he was here to be a shepherd for the family that founded the town.  He was good at that but he tried to run part of the business and ended up losing a bunch of money.  Then he went to New York where the book starts.  I decided to go see the house so I could add some pictures and history to the book review.

I got there and the historical society volunteer was so excited.  She couldn’t believe I was there for a tour.  I told her I didn’t need a tour.  I could just look around.  No can do.  This is a tour only operation. Can you say introvert nightmare?  A one on one tour. To top it off –no pictures allowed.

It was fairly interesting even though I learned a lot more about the family that hired John Brown than I learned about John Brown.  I was hoping for a bit of history about Sarah.  A sign with pictures of the family would have been good, but no.

From here

The house is across the street from the house that the family of the founders of Akron built.  This house was originally the house they lived in while they were building their fancy house.