Less Than One Week Away!

We’re down to the home stretch before the publication of THE MAPMAKER’S DAUGHTER!  To sweeten the wait for me was the news that another major reviewer, Kirkus, has given the book a thumbs up. That’s all four of the biggest early reviewers, and four positive reviews.  I won’t post the entire Kirkus review here because there are a lot of plot spoilers, but here’s the other content:

“Corona’s latest historical novel is a sprawling saga of Jewish identity and religious freedom in 15th-century Spain.”

“The richness of this life is a revelation.”

“A rich, exhaustively researched portrait of Spanish Jews at the birth of the Inquisition.”

If you are local to the San Diego or San Francisco Bay areas, I have a number of upcoming appearances, as well as one in Kingston New York in June.  Take a look at the calendar section on this website for details.  Thanks as always for your support!


Three Weeks to Go!

THE MAPMAKER’S DAUGHTER comes out three weeks from today.  In celebration, here’s another excerpt:

We are not the only traveler to Lisbon that summer.   Nearing the city we hear rumors of people dying of plague in cities to the north, and on the outskirts of Setúbal, we see columns of people leaving the city.  “Don’t go in,” they tell us.  A man points to the haze on the skyline behind the city.  “They’re burning corpses. The cemeteries can’t keep up with the dead.”

I toss that night on a straw mattress in the sweltering attic of an inn, whose windows are sealed tight to keep out the disease.  The rats scurrying across the roof sound as big as squirrels, and the droppings on the floor make my heart pound at the thought that they have a way of getting in.  The vision of their yellow teeth, beady eyes, and wormlike tails is so unnerving that I sleep the rest of the night in a chair with my feet curled up so they can’t run across my toes.

By the next nightfall we have found only a deserted farmhouse, where we devour a bottle of wine, part of a round of cheese, and dry sausages we find in the larder.  The next day we leave a few coins to reassure ourselves that the owners must be briefly away rather than lying dead somewhere of the plague.

East of the fishing villages at the mouth of the Tagus River, we see a family huddled by the side of the road. The woman is slumped in her husband’s arms, while next to them a small girl holds a crying baby.  The man’s shirt has been torn away, revealing horrible black swellings on his neck and back. His eyes are haunted and wracked with pain.  His wife turns to me, and I see a bloody froth escape from between her pale lips.

Our guards cry out in horror and send their horses at a gallop.  I call out after them to stop. How can we leave children there, with their parents dying?  My father’s expression is a mix of revulsion, fear, and grief.  He makes a cutting motion across his throat and gestures to me to follow as he gallops away behind the guards.

He is right, I know. Taking the children with us will not save them, and I can’t comfort them without dooming all of us.  Still, I see the little girl’s terrified eyes and hear the baby’s wails for hours.



An excerpt from The Mapmaker’s Daughter

Less than one month until publication.  Thought you might enjoy reading a little passage.


“Senhorita Riba?” Judah Abravanel is standing a few steps away. “My wife sent me to see if you were all right.” I dab my eyes with my sleeve. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m not a very good guest.”

“You are the guest I expected you to be.” His eyes are solemn. “Does this have to do with what you started to tell me the other day?”

“I’m not sure what that was.”

“Perhaps I can help. I think what you pretend to be is not who you really are.” He gestures to the mosaic design in the fountain. “Like this,” he says. “You might say, ‘this is a fish,’ or ‘this is a flower,’ but they’re shattered pieces put together to look like what they’re supposed to be.”

“I am supposed to be a Jew,” I tell him, surprised that I have said it aloud. […] “My sisters don’t have any trouble believing in the Hanged One, but I can’t. I tried for a while, but it didn’t work.”

“And now you can’t be either a Jew or a Christian, while all around you everyone seems to care a great deal about which one everybody is.”

“I think I would like to live as a Jew someday,” I blurt out. “Openly, I mean.”

“Your father should live his remaining days in peace. He’s done everything he could to keep his family safe, and you should respect that.” “But when he’s gone?” I ask. “What about then?” “Don’t do anything drastic that you can’t take back.”

I feel as if he has stolen something from me, but then again he doesn’t know my secret. “Actually,” I say, “my baptism might not count. My mother washed it away in the mikveh, and then the church records burned. Maybe I can still choose for myself.”

Judah’s face is grave. “There are people who would drag you to church to splash you with their water the minute they hear this. You’re best off never mentioning it again.” He thinks for a moment. “The Holy One works in strange ways. Perhaps you have a different fate from what seems possible now.”

Chana and Rahel run into the garden. “Papa,” Chana says, her arms reaching only part way around his belly. “What’s taking you so long? We’ve been ready to sing for hours!”

“Well, then,” he says. “We won’t keep you waiting any longer.” The girls’ laughter is like music as they lead him into the house.