The Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer
Susan Rose’s life has not been easy. Her father drank away all the money he made, she and her siblings were supported through her mother’s work as a w. et nurse. Women would, for various reasons, bring their children to be nursed by Susan’s mother instead of nursing them themselves. Eventually, Susan finds herself making her living the same way her mother did. Susan has a very tragic life, but she does not content herself with letting the richer and more powerful walk all over her and her family. She has been called ‘plucky’ by other reviewers and that she definitely is. With her limited education and resources she manages to do what it takes to ensure that she and hers get by.
The most interesting part of the book for me were the chapters explaining why various women had given their children up to be nursed by Susan’s mother. I hadn’t contemplated all the different things that would make a woman in the Victorian age unable or unwilling to nurse their own children. Occasionally they would correspond with what was going on in Susan’s story, but more often they did not. The first couple of stories confused me as I wasn’t sure whether they were supposed to go along with what was happening or not, but once I figured them out they became what historical fiction is supposed to be: a wonderful window to the past.
About Susan’s story, though, I was pretty ‘meh’. It took awhile for the main part of her story to start – about 100 pages in a book that isn’t even 300 pages. I don’t know if that was what threw me off, but I never really cared for her much one way or the other. I didn’t dislike Susan, her story, or the book, but I didn’t love it either. It was interesting, but not captivating. I also disliked her habit of breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly. That device doesn’t bother me in and of itself, but in this case it took me out of the story.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review.