The Wet Nurse’s Tale
Miss Susan Rose is the narrator and protagonist of this tale, which takes place in Victorian England. Raised by a surly father and caring mother, Susan must leave home to work at a neighboring manor house. She is free with her favors and thoughtless about her future, which she readily admits, but she’s flattered by the attention she’s receives from the heir to the manor. Soon she is pregnant and must return home. When her son is a month old, her father insists with fists and anger that she leave her child behind and become a wet nurse as her own mother has done since the birth Susan’s oldest sibling.
Thus begins one of the best stories I have read in a while. As Susan sits quietly in the nursery of her employers, she is privy to goings-on in the rest of the household, and it’s not long before her honesty and wisdom are appreciated by all who come to know her. She describes herself as having a lumpy body and a nose like a potato, but she’s smart, tenacious, promiscuous when need be, and brutally honest about herself and those around her. She’s not pretty, but she’s real. When her second child is born out of wedlock, she is forced to go home once more. Her irate father decides that the child would only hinder Susan’s ability to make him money and gives her son away.
Reader, her frantic search to find her Davey will have you cheering on one page and teary-eyed on the next. The ending is uplifting and joyful. The small vignettes between the chapters are an added treat as well. I highly recommend this first novel by Erica Eisdorfer.