8.29.2009

Read This Book: The Wet Nurse's Tale

"My name is Susan Rose. Here I sit in a lady's house with a lady's babe at my breast, and it's where I've been before though the house was different and the baby too. I've got what rich ladies need right here in front of me and I learned to do what I do by example. It's my mother's milk that washed me upon this shore. It has got me to places far from my own mother, and it has got me close to those I should have avoided and it has got me far from my own hopes, but I dream still. Nursing's good for dreaming, for it takes a good deal of sitting still."---Erica Eisdorfer, The Wet Nurse's Tale

It's not everyday that you get the opportunity to write your own book review. So now that I've read this fantastic book, invested both time and emotion into this character's world, I've come to the point of pulling all of my thoughts together about this story and find that I have a classic case of Writer's Block. (Reviewer's Block?)

So instead of trying to come up with something fancy to wow the pants off of you I will simply tell you what captured and held my attention with Susan Rose and her story.

I realized that I was in for a treat when Susan likened the beautiful, raw experience of childbirth to "shitting a pumpkin". I laughed out loud and immediately liked this woman.

This character's voice came off the page so vividly in my mind, and I imagined hearing the lilt in her English accent as she describes a chance encounter with the young Master of the Great House while she was eating an apple in a tree. "Master Freddie finished his piss and I thanked God but he didn't put it away! Instead he held it for a minute and seemed to look at it, for I know not what reason, and then I belched out of the sheer shame of it and the apple, too. It was a huge belch and he started and looked up and there I was looking straight down at him, straight into his eyes." Susan's colorful turn of phase was a constant source of entertainment for me as I read this book.

A shocking act of betrayal forces Susan to travel to Victorian London where she soon finds herself employed as a wet nurse in the home of a lady half addled. Given the circumstances I can hardly imagine how Susan manages to keep her wits about her, her focus steady. I won't give away the twists and turns that this story takes; suffice it to say that my heart ached for Susan's plight. "When I woke, I found that I had cried in my sleep, for my cheeks were wet."

Erica Eisdorfer has created an amazing character in Susan Rose. The hardships that Susan experiences are extraordinary and the willpower that allows her to persevere doesn't feel contrived. I empathized with Susan, I cried for her and I cheered for her. This would have been a woman I would have loved to have been friends with.

3 comments:

LceeL said...

Just what I need - something else to go on my reading list - which is a dozen books long now, as it is. But I'll put it there - period pieces are a favorite of mine anyway.

As another favorite of mine, how are you doing? And how are the knees?

Katy said...

You know, I dont' think I've ever heard of a story about this particular phenomenon (wish I could spell). Very interesting.

t i m said...

i may just put that on my reading list provided there's an audio version as i'm a lazy reader. ;)