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.