Book review/book club: The Wet Nurse’s Tale

29 October 2009 at 1:17 am 1 comment

Earlier this month Tanya over at Motherwear asked who would be interested in reading The Wet Nurse’s Tale  (by Erica Eisdorfer, Putnam 2009) with her as a sort of mini online bookclub. Well, it was fortuitious timing, because my copy had just arrived via the BPL reserves system.

Last week while my husband was on a business trip I had a bit more time to read than I normally do, and I immediately found myself absorbed in a great historical novel that–in style and feel, if not in content–resembles As Meat Loves Salt and Fingersmith. The great birth, breatfeeding, and mother-related themes just put it over the top, of course!

So I read about the adventures of the wet nurse Susan Rose and her baby, and though readers spend most of the book rooting for Susan and hoping she gets a happy ending with her own child, it’s not much of a spoiler to say that yes, things do work out well for them.

Meanwhile the novel covers the oral traditions, superstitions, and community involvement (learning to nurse by watching your mother do it) related to breastfeeding, as well as engorgement, mastitis, hand-expression, cluster-nursing, tandem nursing, co-sleeping, and an understanding of the supply and demand principles of breastfeeding. Susan’s first-person narrative is broken up by small inter-chapter segments in the voices of women who put their babies out to nurse, and these segments generally discuss the women’s birth experiences. This device lets the novel also cover midwifery, breech births, different positions during labor, and early skin-to-skin contact. 

It’s a great read–I don’t know when Tanya’s book group will get off the ground, but I highly recommend you grab a copy of the novel now for some engrossing pleasure reading.



Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Improving the outcome for birthing moms Reflecting on my son’s birth, a year later.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Guinever  |  29 October 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I’ll have to check this one out. I hadn’t heard of it before.


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