Susanita (bardhlul) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book 20 - The Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona

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.

This was a touching and (mostly) interesting book with occasional difficult patches. The treatment of Jews in this time and place was appalling. Amalia found more acceptance among the Muslims of Granada than among the Christians she met in her travels throughout the Iberian Peninsula, before we even get to the Spanish Inquisition. Now it's a Monty Python punch line, but during its time it was a brutal purge that left families shattered and communities bereft. Amalia's "decision" at the end of the book is not really the point of the story. Instead it's about the people she's loved (and mostly lost), the series of decisions she's made before ever getting to Valencia, and all the places she's been along the way. A few of those places were familiar to me from a too-long-ago trip to Spain, but at the same time it was a jarring contrast between the beautiful scenery and architecture I remember and the ugly fear-mongering and discrimination that took place in the past.
Tags: historical fiction

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