The Mapmaker's Daughter
by Katherine Nouri Hughes
Pub Date 25 Jul 2017
The Mapmaker’s Daughter, a historical novel set in the 16th century, is the confession of Nurbanu, born Cecilia Baffo Veniero - the mesmerizing, illegitimate Venetian who became the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Narrating the spectacular tale of her rise to prominence, which begins with being taken captive on the island of Paros, Nurbanu, on her sickbed, is determined to understand how her bond with Suleiman, the great Sultan, shaped her destiny as the wife of one of his sons but also as the one Suleiman whom commands to ensure that any male heir not in the direct line of succession to Sultan is murdered. Nurbanu spares nothing as she dissects the desires and motives that have propelled and harmed her, as she considers the significance of her role as a devoted and manipulative mother and, finally, as the superintendent of the construction of the most sophisticated observatory in the world. The story of Nurbanu’s life is recounted with candor and unflinching self-reflection and a final shattering revelation.
“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