Book Club Discussion: The Mapmaker’s Children

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Mapmaker's Children FL2W Book Club Banner

Book club discussion days are my favorite days on this site. Today is even better because we’re discussing Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s ChildrenThis novel tells the alternating stories of two women–an abolitionist and one from present day- and how one doll brings past and present together.

Based on the chatter in our private forum, From Left to Write members couldn’t get enough of McCoy’s characters. Our book club members were truly inspired by The Mapmaker’s Children. Don’t believe me? Check out their personal stories inspired by the novel.

Intrigued? Grab a copy of The Mapmaker’s Children and see what the fuss is all about.

Don’t forget check out Sarah McCoy’s website or follow her on Twitter. She loves chatting with her readers and is super nice. Tell her From Left to Write sent you!

Book Club Feature: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

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I am so thrilled to feature another novel by Sarah McCoy as our second May book club feature! Our book club loved her The Baker’s Daughter and we’re excited about her new book!

The Mapmaker’s Children tells the story of two women–an abolitionist and one from present day.  Here’s more about the book:

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.

Grab your copy of The Mapmaker’s Children and join us on May 19th when we discuss Sarah’s novel.

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Don’t forget check out Sarah McCoy’s website or follow her on Twitter. She loves chatting with her readers and is super nice. Tell her we sent you!

Have you read any of Sarah McCoy’s books?

Review: Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Review: Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Review: Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

As someone who found my world history textbooks lacking in strong women leaders, I’ve gravitated towards historical fiction to fill that gaps. Thanks to many novels, I’ve traveled to India and ancient Egypt and walked in the shoes of powerful queens. As soon as my review copy of Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran arrived, I eagerly dug in.  And finished the book in one sitting.

Set on the cusp of Britain’s colonization of India, Queen Lakshmi fights to keep her throne and preserve her people’s way of life. She gathers a powerful army of men and her trusted women warriors to keep the British empire at bay. In fact, Lakshmi’s actions earns her the name of Rebel Queen in England.  Her story is told through the eyes of Sita, one of her female bodyguards. Raised in a small town, Sita was raised in purdah. She was not allowed to leave her home or speak to other men without her father’s permission. With no dowry to speak of, Sita’s father trains her so that one day she may join the queen’s private army.

I don’t know very much about this time period of India, but the colorful world of the India court leapt off the page. Some novels set in pre-colonial India focuses on the jewels and riches, but Rebel Queen gives a glimpse into the aristocracy and the lower castes, like Sita. Telling Queen Lakshmi from Sita’s perspective was perfect because as she learned about the world around her, so does the reader.

At the beginning, I found Sita’s explanation of the caste system and Indian mythology a little too obvious and simplified. However, it works in the context of Sita’s story–she’s been asked to write a memoir for the British about her former life in Queen Lakshmi’s court. In the early 1900s, I doubt very many British truly understood the people that they forcibly colonized. Once I turned that last page I was simultaneously sad that the story was over and excited because I wanted to learn more about Queen Lakshmi.

I highly recommend Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran. If you enjoy reading novels about strong female characters, this book is overflowing with independent women who were not afraid to take control of their destiny.

While you wait for Rebel Queen to release on March 3, you should read Michelle Moran’s other novels about female rulers. I suggest you start with Nefertiti.

READ MORE: 7 Books About Inspiring Women Rulers From History

Book Club Feature: The Goddess of Small Victories + Giveaway

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

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Staying in theme with our first book club selection, our second pick for October is also about numbers.

The Goddess of Small Victories (Other Press) by Yannick Grannec (translated by  Willard Wood) is a fictional account about brilliant mathematician Kurt Gödel as told from his wife’s perspective. Adele, a former cabaret dancer, was shunned by the scientific community, but as Gödel’s widow, she refuses to relinquish his papers over to the scientific community. The novel alternates between flashbacks to their relationships and to 1980 where young Anna is tasked with the job of obtaining the papers from Adele.

More about the book:

Princeton University 1980. Kurt Gödel, the most fascinating, though hermetic, mathematician of the twentieth century, has just died of anorexia. His widow, Adele, a fierce woman shunned by her husband’s colleagues because she had been a cabaret dancer, is now consigned to a nursing home. To the great annoyance of the Institute of Advanced Studies, she refuses to hand over Gödel’s precious records. Anna Roth, the timid daughter of two mathematicians who are part of the Princeton clique, is given the difficult task of befriending Adele and retrieving the documents from her. As Adele begins to notice Anna’s own estrangement from her milieu and starts to trust her, she opens the gates of her memory and together they travel back to Vienna during the Nazi era, Princeton right after the war, the pressures of McCarthyism, the end of the positivist ideal, and the advent of nuclear weapons. It is this epic story of a genius who could never quite find his place in the world, and the determination of the woman who loved him, that will eventually give Anna the courage to change her own life.

The Goddess of Small Victories  will be released on October 14, but pre-order the book now so you can join us on October 16th for our From Left to Write book club discussion. Learn more about the book and author in a recent interview about the novel.

Yannick Grannec is a graphic designer, freelance art director, professor of fine arts, and enthusiast of mathematics. The Goddess of Small Victories is her first novel. She lives in Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

Giveaway:  Win a copy of  The Goddess of Small Victories! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below (US and Canadian addresses only).

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Review: Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Neverhome by Laird Hunt received quite a bit of buzz during Book Expo America back in May, and rightly so. Hunt brings to light an important part of United States history that many of us should, but do not, know. Written from the perspective of a soldier, this novel takes a different look at the Civil War because “Ash Thompson” is really a woman disguised as a man. Ash leaves behind a husband to take care of their farm and joins the Union to fight against the South. Such a story was not uncommon. Many women, from both North and South, disguised themselves as men to fight for their side.

Without giving away too much, Ash becomes revered as a hero, thrown in a madhouse,and accused of treachery. Told in first person narrative, the short novel is gripping as Ash describes her encounters with civilians, her fellow soldiers and enemy soldiers. For her, they are all each their own type of battle with only one goal: to make others believe that she is a man. If her true identity were discovered, she could be imprisoned or worse.

If you’re a Civil War buff or curious about this “secret” part of United States history, you definitely want to read Neverhome.

P.S. Earlier this year, I read I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe (my review). Human nature makes me want to compare the two since they are both about women who fought as men in the Civil War. They two are different enough that I think you should read both.  McCabe’s character has a yearning to be more than her gender regulates her to be while Hunt’s character focuses on her sense of duty.

Book Club Discussion: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

From Left to Write Ruby by Cynthia Bond Book Club

Today is book club discussion day for our latest read, Ruby by Cynthia Bond. At its heart, the novel is a story about love, friendship, and inner demons. The novel’s title character Ruby has had a rough life strife with inner demons.  Ephraim, a childhood friend, wants to help her become whole again. If she’ll let him.

From Left to Write members have share some thought discussion about Ruby over on their blogs. Take a look:

Learn more about author Cynthia Bond at her website and make sure you grab a copy of Ruby.

Reading it with your book club? Here are some reading group questions for Ruby.