A Novel by Katherine Nouri Hughes
Praise for The Mapmaker's Daughter
[An] absorbing historical novel… compellingly interlaces public history and intimate conjecture.
― The New Yorker
Voice -- the great, elusive necessity in all historical fiction -- is rapturous and irresistible in The Mapmaker's Daughter. Katherine Hughes's novel just seems to talk to us, and in so doing makes these titanic events seem human and natural, and thus all-the-more preoccupying. A very impressive book, indeed.
― Richard Ford
In The Mapmaker’s Daughter, Katherine Hughes introduces us to Cecilia-Nurbanu, an astonishing girl who becomes a woman of immense power in the Ottoman Empire. Lost to history, Hughes retrieves her and through a stunning act of imagination takes us into her consciousness as she finally reckons with a decision that in the light of the present seems unspeakable. Hughes’s brilliantly conceived novel is thus a startling reminder of what even today a woman may encounter when she becomes, as Nurbanu becomes, an accessory to power.
― Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
A fascinating evocation of the major players of the Ottoman renaissance.
― Kirkus Reviews
Hughes has richly imagined the life of a remarkable historical figure. . . readers who enjoy in-depth historical detail and court intrigue will be riveted.
― Library Journal
When the fiction is good, the history is usually distorted, and on the rare occasions when the history is good, the fiction is usually less interesting than the straight historical narrative. This novel is a remarkable exception . . . part history, part fiction, it is enthralling.― Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, Princeton University
I read The Mapmaker's Daughter slowly, savoring every page - the clear voice and sure perceptions. One is comfortable in these characters’ company. Hughes is an adroit and skillful novelist. She carries you with her, as though she has already lived this exotic life and were showing you around. The Mapmaker’s Daughter is brilliant.― Samuel Hynes, Author of The Soldiers’ Tale and A War Imagined
A heartbreaking read that marries a strong story arc with a dedication to historical details.
― Booklist (*starred review)
Based on a historical event of rare improbability—the rise in the sixteenth century of a daughter of Venice to the rank of Queen Mother in the mighty Ottoman Empire—this novel is a gorgeous feat of imagination, a stellar work by a gifted writer.― Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University, author of Ralph Ellison
The Mapmaker's Daughter is an immersive, beautifully-woven narrative that dissects the paradoxes of female power and the particularities of the 16th century Ottoman Empire.
― Dr. Amanda Foreman, author of ‘Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire' and ‘A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War.’
Of all the appetites the lust for power is the strongest—and most dangerous. This is a lively, absorbing and utterly convincing self-portrait of a woman who came under the influence of the greatest of all Ottoman sultans—with tragic consequences.
― Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris
The best of history comes to us on the pages of a well-written novel. Once again, a powerful woman rises to prominence in a world run by men. The Ottoman Empire spread across Europe and the Middle East in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was the time of Suleiman the Magnificent – full of turbulence and splendor. It was a time of arranged marriages, harems and political intrigue. Into this maelstrom is thrust a lady of Venice – Cecelia – destined to help rule the world from its center. Full of intrigue, harem politics, the science of navigation, and, above all, love, it is a story worth savoring, so set aside plenty of time to enjoy this latest homage to the unsung power of women. Man or woman, you’ll enjoy the history, the story and the insight it brings.
― Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA
The Mapmaker’s Daughter, by Katherine Nouri Hughes (Delphinium). In the Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century, a woman of Venetian birth gained power as the privileged consort of Sultan Selim II. Nurbanu Sultan (as she became known), the narrator of Hughes’s absorbing historical novel, defends her status against the vicious intrigues of Topkapi Palace. “It is fair to say about eunuchs that they are vindictive, babyish, condescending, and easily bored,” she reflects at one point. According to custom, when a new sultan ascends, his brothers are strangled. When Selim dies, Nurbanu must decide how far she will go to secure her son’s reign—and enlarge her own influence. Hughes’s Nurbanu is alert to her political and sexual vulnerabilities, and unsparing as she reflects on the manipulations and sacrifices that have marked her life. The result compellingly interlaces public history and intimate conjecture.
― The New Yorker