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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wet Nurse's Tale

The Wet Nurse's Tale
by Erica Eisdorfer
272 pages


*** 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. Susan Rose 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:
So what do you think? Does this sound like a book you'd want to read? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


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~

10 comments:

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Glad to hear you liked this book. I snagged an ARC last summer but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm excited to get a chance (maybe over Christmas break).

Goddess said...

Sounds like a great book. Just went on my TBR read list!

Aarti said...

I read and reviewed this one earlier this year, and really liked it. Such a great central character- I loved her :-)

bermudaonion said...

This book sounds great! I've never read a book where a wet nurse is the main character - they're usually just mentioned in passing.

mominsanity said...

I really enjoyed this novel. A wet nurse is very foreign to most modern women, especially in America where women are encouraged to breastfeed for at least a year after the birth of their child.

Glad you enjoyed this novel.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

The idea of wet nurses is fascinating to me and I would love to learn more abut them. The idea is so taboo in our culture that it would be fun to see the other reasonings behind it, and it is rather funny how we have developed because it was pretty commonplace at one time.

kimpett said...

This book sounds great, I will definitely add it to the tbr.
I have never read a book with a wet nurse as a main character, but your review reminded of the book, "The Birth House" by Ami McKay.
Kaitlin

Heather J. said...

A Bookshelf Monstrosity - Definitely move it up to the top of your TBR stack!

Goddess - I think you'll enjoy it.

Aarti - I'll hop over and look for your review!

bermudaonion - Exactly. That's why this one was so refreshing.

mominsanity - Yes, and the idea of having someone else nurse my child is so strange to me, although I realize it was a common occurrence in the past.

Nicole - This is a fun read, and educational in a way as well.

kimpett - I haven't heard of that book but I'll definitely check it out, thanks!

amy said...

This book sounds interesting...I was just learning about the whole wet nurse thing in my victorian lit class. What a fascinating(and weird) way to earn a living.

Heather J. said...

amy - it definitely does sound weird, but strangely fascinating, and very sad at the same time

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