The Book: The Mapmaker’s Daughter, by Laurel Corona
The Blurb: A sweeping story of 1492 Spain, exploring how what we know about the world shapes our map of life Valencia, 1492. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issue an order expelling all Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity. Amalia Cresques, daughter of a Jewish mapmaker whose services were so valuable that his faith had been ignored, can no longer evade the throne. She must leave her beloved atlas, her house, her country, forever. As Amalia remembers her past, living as a converso, hiding her faith, she must decide whether to risk the wrath of the Inquisition or relinquish what’s left of her true life. A mesmerizing saga about faith, family and Jewish identity.
The Babble: I seem to be on a small run of books portraying fictionalized Jewish history; only a couple weeks ago I reviewed Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, and have now fallen in love with Laurel Corona’s The Mapmakers Daughter. While The Dovekeepers shares the lives of four woman following the first century fall of Jerusalem and subsequent events in the stronghold of Masada, The Mapmakers Daughter charts the family of real-life cartographer Jehudà Cresques’ fictional daughter Amalia in the years leading up to the Spanish Inquisition. Left alone with her converso father at a young age, Amalia must mature quickly, learning to adapt to the caprice of an ever-changing court and finding her own way in a culture where faith often goes hand in hand with fear. Rich with details of the Age of Discovery in Portugal and Spain and inhabited with strong, likable characters –both fictional and historical- The Mapmakers Daughter is an absorbing book I recommend for serious reading.