The Wet Nurse's Tale

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The Wet Nurse's Tale

This historical novel set during the Victorian era in England is unlike any other historical novel that I have read. Usually the main characters are fairly well to do, live in the city and have an education. In this book, the main character is a poor country girl who gets by on common sense and luck.

Susan Rose is from a large family that lives near a manor house. When her parents first married, her father worked the land they live on but as years went on, he started drinking and her mother started taking in babies to wet nurse. As the children grew old enough, they went to work at the manor house including Susan.

Susan’s one sister drew the notice of the master of the house. He took her by force. Susan ended up drawing the notice of the son. He didn’t force her. In fact, Susan actually felt sorry for him. After several months of meeting with him, she found herself expecting. This wasn’t good news but it did give her the opportunity to become a wet nurse like her mother. After all, the pay was much better than being a maid!

I couldn’t help but like Susan. Her practical manner and down to earth way of doing things feels like a fresh breeze in an era of straight lace historicals. Nothing seems to get her down as she forges ahead taking care of her son and herself.

The character of Susan is so rich and full. There is no way you could ever think of her as one dimensional. There are reflections of her past and promises of her future. She shares her thoughts about everything from the way she looks to the proper way to take care of a house. She has opinions on just about everything.

By looking at her life, social realities are seen. Susan’s father is abusive yet no one sees that as criminal. Masters take advantage of maids all the time, sometimes resulting in a bastard. Wet nurses are needed for a variety of reasons from a mother’s death to well to do women wanting to keep their figure. And due to Susan’s curiosity, it is shown that Jews were kept together and considered foreign. These realities give this story life and a basis in reality.

Between chapters are little snippets of Mrs Rose’s life as a wet nurse. That is Susan’s mother and role model. While they did show the variety of reasons that a wet nurse might be hired, I didn’t particularly like them. They broke up the story too much and truly Mrs Rose could use her own book.

This story was engaging and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed following Susan’s life. I only wish that I knew the ending and not just the possibilities. Still, with Susan’s optimism I’m sure she’ll do fine.

Book Blurb for The Wet Nurse's Tale

A debut novel set in Victorian England with a delightfully cheeky heroine who will have everyone talking.

Susan Rose is not your average Victorian heroine. She's promiscuous, lovable, plump, and scheming. Luckily for Susan, her big heart is covered by an equally big bosom, and her bosom is her fortune- for Susan becomes a professional wet nurse, like her mother before her, and she makes it her business to know all the intrigues and scandals that the upper crust would prefer to keep to themselves.

When her own child is caught up in a family scandal, Susan must use all of her street smarts to rescue her baby from the powerful mistress of the house. The scheme she weaves is bold and daring, and could spell ruin if she fails-but Susan Rose has no intention of failing.

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2010 4.75