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—the bold backstory of the Netflix Series, Magnificent Century
Narrating the spectacular story of her rise to the pinnacle of imperial power, Queen Mother Nurbanu, on her sickbed, is determined to understand how her bond with the greatest of all Ottoman sultans, Suleiman the Magnificent, shaped her destiny – not only as the wife of his successor but as the appointed enforcer of one of the Empire’s most crucial and shocking laws. Nurbanu spares nothing as she dissects the desires and motives that have propelled and harmed her; as she considers her role as devoted and manipulative mother; as she reckons her relations with the women of the Harem; and as she details the fate of the most sophisticated observatory in the world. Nurbanu sets out to “see” the causes and effects of her loves and choices, and she succeeds by means of unflinching candor - right up to the last shattering revelation.
About the Author
KATHERINE NOURI HUGHES, Iraqi-Irish by birth, has spent much of her career as a speech-writer. She has published two books on K-12 education, been a communications executive in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and serves on the boards of the American University in Cairo, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and WNET/13, the public television station. She attended Princeton University where she received a Masters Degree in Near Eastern Studies. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey and has two daughters and two grandchildren. The Mapmaker's Daughter is her first novel.
“[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 novel is a potent 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 heartbreaking read that marries a strong story arc with a dedication to historical details.” — Booklist (starred)
“A fascinating evocation of the major players of the Ottoman renaissance.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Hughes adeptly mixes fictionalized elements with historical details.” — Publishers Weekly
“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
“An impressively engaging and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end, The Mapmaker's Daughter reveals author Katherine Nouri Hughes's genuine storytelling gifts. … Unreservedly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections…” — Midwest Book Review
“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
“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
“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 Rampersand, 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