The Wet Nurse's Tale

By Erica Eisdorfer
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399155765, 272pp.)

Publication Date: August 6, 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the August 2009 Indie Next List
“Susan Rose's mother is a wet nurse, whose profession is to feed and care for other women's babies until they can be weaned and returned home. When Susan gives birth to a baby and a desperate mother calls for a wet nurse, Susan finds herself sold to the highest bidder. This is the story of a smart, plucky, adventurous lower-class woman in Victorian England, and it is everything a reader wants in a historical novel. Susan is overweight and not particularly attractive--and she frequently makes poor decisions regarding men--but you will love her immediately. Her narration is pitch-perfect, blending humor and heartbreak while giving a fascinating glimpse into a mostly unknown profession. I loved it.”
-- Jake Hallman, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, CA


Description

Bright and clever with a sharp-tongued, adventurous heroine who offers a candid and often funny look at the business of nursing babies in Victorian England, this is a debut novel that will have everyone talking.

Susan Rose isn't the average protagonist: she's scheming, promiscuous, plump, and she is also smart, funny, tender, and entirely lovable. Like many lower-class women of Victorian England, she was born into a world that offered very few opportunities for the poor and unlovely. But Susan is the kind of plucky heroine who seeks her fortune, and finds it . . . with some help from, well, her breasts. Susan, you see, is a professional wet nurse; she breast-feeds the children of wealthy women who can't or won't nurse their own babies.

But when her own child is sold by her father and sent to a London lady who had recently lost a baby, Susan manages to convince his new foster mother, Mrs. Norbert, to hire her as a wet nurse. Once reunited with her son, Susan discovers the Norbert home to be a much more sinister place than she'd ever expected. Dark and full of secrets, its master is in India, and the first baby who died there did so under very mysterious circumstances. Susan embarks on a terrifying journey to rescue her son before he meets the same fate.




About the Author

Erica Eisdorfer was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, and graduated from Duke University. She was the book reviewer for WUNC, an NPR affiliate, for eight years. Eisdorfer has managed the Bull’s Head Bookshop, the trade bookstore on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for twenty years. She lives in Carrboro with her husband and two daughters.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. “I was always a good girl.” Susan asserts at the start of the novel. Do you believe this? Does following Susan’s adventures throughout the book change your opinion?




Praise For The Wet Nurse's Tale

"I really loved this book. Erica Eisdorfer managed to completely vanish into the voice of her really appealing narrator-the plucky, somewhat randy, always sympathetic, and certainly never boring professional wet nurse, Miss Susan Rose."
-Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

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