*** About the Book ***
The setting is the English countryside in the Victorian age, a time when the local manor house provided almost all the employment for the surrounding town and a good wet nurse was in high demand. Our main character, Susan Rose, grew up in a very full household. She was one of 10 children belonging to the family and there was always at least one paying child to whom her mother was a wet nurse. When Susan finds herself with a new baby of her own and minus a husband, she turns to the one thing she can depend on to get her by: her (rather large) breasts. Thus begins her career as a wet nurse, and also the majority of this book.
*** Why I Read It ***
I was contacted by the publisher of this book with the offer of a review copy. The title of the book caught my attention first (how could it not?!) and then I read this: "Featuring a bright and clever, sharp-tongued heroine in the business of nursing babies in Victorian England, this tale is endearing and gripping. is an atypical protagonist with a lovable personality that shines despite her low-class status." Doesn't that sound like fun? I agreed to review the book and received a copy in the mail shortly thereafter.
*** My Thoughts ***
I loved this book. It was a rather simple story, nothing particularly spectacular, but I loved it. Susan's personality is just fabulous. She is smart, tough, independent, and not particularly attractive - a combination that makes her irresistible as a narrator. I really enjoyed reading her story even when it was heartbreaking, or almost unbelievable, or verging on predictable. Regardless, it was fun to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The concept of a wet nurse is pretty foreign to most modern women so I had never given much thought to it. In addition to finding out why Susan becomes a wet nurse, this book also goes into the stories of the women who sent their children to Susan's mother to nurse. Every other chapter is a quick story giving a different woman's reason for not nursing her own child. These chapters were fascinating as they illuminated the varying circumstances of women in the Victorian age.
I love learning things while reading a great story and this book fit the bill. If you want an entertaining story (and you don't mind reading quite a bit about breasts) then you will enjoy this book.
*** Your Thoughts ***
Have you ever read a book where the wet nurse was more than just a background character? Was she a main character, or at least an important minor one? If so, please share the title and let me know if it was any good.
Here are some other bloggers' thoughts on this book:
- Devour of Books was rather lukewarm about this one
- Fyrefly's Book Blog agreed that Susan was a fantastic character
- Books and Movies compares this to TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
- Mominsanity said it brought back memories of nursing her own child
- Aarti added Susan to her very short list of "Heroines Who Don't Annoy Me"
As a side note, I'm sure I'm going to get some crazy people visiting this post because of my repeated use of the word breasts.... ~LOL~