The Mapmaker’s Daughter, by Laurel Corona, Offers Emotionally Gripping Story of Loss, Love, and Faith in 15th Century

9781402286490-PRThe Mapmaker’s Daughter, by historical author Laurel Corona, is an emotional, well-researched, highly intelligent novel set in 15th century Iberia where the Spanish Inquisition is complicating (or worse) the lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. However, as the Inquisition sent away those of Jewish faith, ordered them to convert, or caused them to hide among them posing as Christians, stories of hundreds of families arose in history that are now being pulled from the history books and made into educating fiction.  As a Christian, my heart breaks for the people of Jewish and Islamic faiths and what they endured during this time period of persecution.

Corona does a phenomenal job with her protagonist Amalia Cresques, the daughter of a famous cartographer (as a side note, Amalia is an invented character, but the family actually existed).  At first living as conversos, eventually she and her father are sent to Portugal to serve Henry the Navigator, who is exploring the African court. Though an affluent family in the Jewish community, their faith now puts them in servitude.  Her father, as he spends time plotting maps for the conquering men that were ripe in this time period, ironically is assisting these men in claiming their dominance.

But the book doesn’t focus on the mapmaking, it focuses on the mapmaker’s daughter, as it is rightly titled. Amalia is a young girl coming of age in a very tumultuous time period of confusion where not only are things difficult, and downright frightful, but the mental fatigue that would probably come from defining yourself, and your faith, in a time when so many theories or restrictions were put into place (and faith was very personal and fervent and felt so deeply). Her portrayal of Amalia brought depth and emotional connection to her character, whether it was when the novel was reaching forward into time and revealing Amalia 60 years later and at the end of her life or when it showed her just beginning her foray into life, love, and faith.

It was interesting how Corona added many real figures from history and how someone such as Amalia’s character would have interacted with them given the circumstances of that historical family (her family). The relationships between Amalia and many of the other characters are strong and rich and interwoven among historical detail of the time period. Corona’s prose also really showcases for us how the time period truly felt to those of the Jewish faith, as she tried to capture sentiments of those who were easy to convert, those who held strong, and those who floundered in not knowing their truest heart’s desires.

The detail of Iberia, the scenery set in the novel, and the lush verbiage was lovely and allowed for breathing between the action of the story. I was amazed to learn even more about the Jewish people and what they endured during the Spanish Inquisition. I’ve read several novels lately that dealt with stories of this time period and I am always floored by the civil injustices endured by Jews, as well as several other types of faith throughout time. In relation to our modern era, there are lessons to be taken away from this history, lessons we must never forget.

Corona’s newest epic novel of faith, family, love, and personal survival will amaze you with an emotional and historical tapestry weaved with remembrance of just how far humankind can fall and what we must do to always ensure compassion and tolerance.

For readers who enjoy learning more about 15th Century Spain, the Spanish Inquisition, and how various faiths intertwined during this time period, then this book is a sweeping saga and an intelligent read that will leave you wanting to learn more. Corona has presented a well-written, well-researched, and emotionally gripping story of courage during the turbulent time of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Mapmaker’s Daughter (Sourcebooks), Synopsis~
On sale date: March 4, 2014

9781402286490-PRA sweeping novel of 15th-century Spain explores the forgotten women of the Spanish Inquisition

In 1492, Amalia Riba sits in an empty room, waiting for soldiers to take her away. A converso forced to hide her religion from the outside world, She is the last in a long line of Jewish mapmakers, whose services to the court were so valuable that their religion had been tolerated by Muslims and Christians alike.

But times have changed. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella conquer Granada, the last holdout of Muslim rule in Spain, they issue an order expelling all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity. As Amalia looks back on her eventful life, we witness history in the making—the bustling court of Henry the Navigator, great discoveries in science and art, the fall of Muslim Granada, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. And we watch as Amalia decides whether to relinquish what’s left of her true self, or risk her life-preserving it.

Exploring an under-published period in history, The Mapmaker’s Daughter is a sweeping saga of faith, family and identity that shows how the past shapes our map of life.

Praise for The Mapmaker’s Daughter~

“A close look at the great costs and greater rewards of being true to who you really are. … A pivotal period of history and inspiration” —Margaret George, NYT bestselling author of Elizabeth I

“Sentences of startling, hard-won wisdom leap from the page and command our memories not to forget them.” —Susan Vreeland, NYT bestselling author of Luncheon of the Boating Party

 “Amalia is the perfect character through which readers will experience these turbulent times … Vividly detailed and beautifully written, this is a pleasure to read, a thoughtful, deeply engaging story of the power of faith to navigate history’s rough terrain.” – Booklist

 “Well-researched, evocative, and a pleasure to read”
—Mitchell James Kaplan, award-winning author of By Fire, By Water

Author Laurel Corona, Biography~ 

Laurel Corona author photoLaurel Corona is the author of three historical novels, including Finding Emilie (Gallery Books, 2011), which won the 2012 Theodore S. Geisel Award for Book of the Year, San Diego Book Awards.

She has taught at San Diego State University, the University of California at San Diego, and San Diego City College, where she is a professor of English and Humanities.

Corona is a member of the Brandeis National Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Hadassah. She has written over a dozen nonfiction Young Adult books for school library programs, primarily on Jewish topics.

She lives in San Diego, California.

You can visit her online at: www.laurelcorona.com

THE MAPMAKER’S DAUGHTER by Laurel Corona

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2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

2 responses to “The Mapmaker’s Daughter, by Laurel Corona, Offers Emotionally Gripping Story of Loss, Love, and Faith in 15th Century

  1. I am excited to read this one after reading several glowing reviews.

    Like

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