In North America, the year 1492 is inextricably linked to Columbus’s discovery of the West Indies, funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. But in Spain itself, the year brought two events that at the time appeared more vital to the health and spiritual purity of the kingdom: the conquest of Granada from the last Muslim rulers of Andalusia, and the expulsion of the Jews whose families had inhabited Iberia since the height of the Roman Empire. Against the backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition, The Mapmaker’s Daughter (Sourcebooks, 2014) tells the story of Amalia Riba—child of a converso family whose father embraces Christianity to save his family and whose mother pays lip service to the new religion even as she teaches her daughters to observe Jewish ritual in secret.
During Amalia’s long and varied life, she travels from her childhood home in Sevilla to Portugal and to Castile, to Granada and to Valencia—accompanied by the exquisitely decorated atlas painted by her great-grandfather and charting her course between security and identity. With a sure hand, Laurel Corona explores the importance of choice, the prices paid for resistance and assimilation, and the overlapping of identity and community, especially in the lives of women. Along the way, she makes a powerful case for the value of diversity—not only in the past but in the present.