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Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN: A Novel ~Sarah McCoy

Monday, May 11th, 2015

“Engaging and emotionally charged…Eden’s realization that ‘what fable and history could agree upon was that everyone was searching for their ever-after, what ever that may be’ neatly sums up the novel’s heart – it’s about the family and the life we create, not always the ones we imagine for ourselves.”  (Kirkus reviews)

THE MAPEMAKER’S CHILDREN is a wonderful, gentle read and I enjoyed it cover to cover.  I thought it very clever to use the life of an historic figure within her context, along side a contemporary character who has some of the same life questions to contend with and lives in the same locale as the historic focus.    Sarah Brown the daughter of abolitionist John Brown (Harper’s Ferry) is the historic character of the story.  She is tracked through the family history and a series of letters written to a prominent family, which sheltered the Brown’s during the trial and execution.  An eleven- year -old Sarah witnessed the death of nearly all of the males in her family during this time period and turned it into her strength and future.  With her ability to paint and draw she created Underground Rail Road maps on cloth and other media for those who could not read to be enabled in their journey northward and success – freedom.

Because of severe Dysentery as a child Sarah was not able to conceive a children and yet it is her children who are part of the title of the story.

Eden is our contemporary character and she and her husband have just moved into New Charleston, West Virginia into an historic home with an interesting doll’s head discovered in the root cellar of the old kitchen.  Eden is weaning off of fertility drugs and is in a hostile rather belligerent frame of mind.  She is the kind of uber selfish “ME” girl of the “me” generation and made me glad when her early chapters moved back to Sarah’s story which I found delightful and very interesting.    By the 4th chapter of Eden’s story, I skimmed until the thought crossed my mind that most of my readers would not be offended by her selfish banter and blaming rhetoric.   Maybe they would even think like my kiddo’s friends who were always telling each other  – “If you do that to me – I’m going to kill you”. People just say those things. I certainly find the blaming behavior everywhere.   I liked Eden at the end of the novel as she did learn some kindness once she started earning some money with her new work and her definition of family expanded.

I believe Sarah McCoy could win the most gracious, Southern Ladies Thank You Note Contest. The novel has that sweet sheen of honey drip known in the south as just good ol’ fashioned manners of speaking clearly and smoothing it all over.  It just felt perfect to curl up in the spring sunshine on my deck and explore this historic story.  I liked this gracious story and particularly learning more about Sarah Brown in our contemporary times of racial unrest.   I was happy the book contained several of her drawing and paintings and her own writing conveyed the story of the times personally.    What a lovely way to learn history and about one’s own values and views.
TLC Book Tours   sent me a hardcopy of this delightful book for review – The MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN.

“Rich, closely observed storytelling full of warmth and heart.”  Charles Frazier, National Book Award winning author of Cold Mountain.

About Sarah McCoy:

“SARAH McCOY is the  New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.” ( from TLC page)

Related:
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter 
Hannah Coulter
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THE MOON SISTERS: a Wonderful Novel ~Therese Walsh

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I have never been hiking in West Virginia until I read THE MOON SISTERS, and yet I have encountered dreamers, sensible daughters, Polish grandmothers, handsome fathers, writer mothers, and violence against children.  THE MOON SISTERS is a Wonderful journey story of 2 sisters who are discovering their true selves, after the sudden death of their mother.  Suicide or Accident? They are sure they know the answer, the reason and they are bound up in each other’s story as they journey through the stages of death and their emotions.


I would just turn right around and read THE MOON SISTERS again; I am sure I could not capture all the symbolism and moments of truth.  My review schedule is too tight and full, I will have to reserve that pleasure for another read space.  When I do pick the book up again, I will pay more attention to references and a metaphor, such as the sun, dreaming, wanting, trees, trees of life, being stung, rail roads and highways right down to water, streams and bogs.

Olivia is 18,  partially blind, and is very spirited – “who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights” – is certain beyond a doubt that she is to go to the Cranberry Bog, see will –o- the-wisps and complete her mother’s fantasy novel.  Jazz (22) is ready to move forward in her life and is shortly starting a new job; is practical, logical and full of anger.   Olivia sets out with her bag of her Mother’s ashes and the family insists that Jazz guide her sister through this journey of acceptance and understanding.

They encounter two other “characters”, train hoppers, as the sisters learn about other painful parenting problems which have been physically abusive and must proceed through their own journey of loss and recovery.  They are all on similar paths and stumbling through the forest of emotions together.  As they reflect emotions, the sisters are taking us into their lives and perceptions and figuring out new ways to proceed; – tasting emotions, seeing ideas, and smelling tomorrow.

“If you live your whole life hoping and dreaming the wrong things, what does that mean about your whole life?”

When you read THE MOON SISTERS take the time to think about what the Sun, Trees, Bogs, Blind Spots and Biscuits might be symbolizing – make wishes and learn from your dreams – take a walk to change your perspective and let others be themselves.   Learn about photisms and will-o’-the wisps, and take a few notes about the memories which come to your mind as you enjoy a cranberry biscuit and read until the wee hours.

I found it fun that Therese Walsh took the time to ask her Facebook readers to assist her in thinking up names for towns that could be found in West Virginia.  She researched lots of new terms and railroad talk, and had great local color in this fictional tale.   The author lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children.  She made this Tramp real.

tlc logoTLC Online Book Tours and The Crown Publishing Group sent me a proof copy of this delightful book and I was pleased to be on this tour – Nearly everyone I know would like reading THE MOON SISTERS.

Therese Walsh writers page on Facebook
Writer Unboxed

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Donations also welcomed. Thank you!

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My Mother’s Funeral
Step, Ball, Change 
The Isolation Door
So Far Away