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The Wet Nurse's Tale


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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.


In her first novel, Eisdorfer offers as a guide to Victorian England her entertaining and surprising protagonist, Susan Rose. A bawdy young woman who could easily have walked off the pages of The Canterbury Tales, Susan ends up wet-nursing after getting unexpectedly and illicitly pregnant, and her alcoholic and abusive father forces her to leave her child and take up the occupation. Her journey into the intimate lives of England's upper crust proves an illuminating and dangerous one as Susan jumps from family to family-until her father sells her son. As Susan attempts to balance other peoples' babies with her quest to regain her own, she is faced with difficult choices between duty and love, and between her life and her child's. Whether she is carousing in the Jewish quarter or planning how to reclaim her son, Susan navigates the stratified social world with humorous vigor. A promiscuous, randy and hefty lady, Susan's a vibrant character, at once sweet and scheming, and given to such a crass frankness that even readers wary of historicals may want to give this a look. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Bawdy Susan Rose grows up in Victorian England watching her mother serve as a wet nurse to supplement her drunken father's wages. She knows that her homeliness and impoverished background relegate her to a lowly status, but, seeking a better life, she works as a maid at the Big House. Never one to turn down pleasure, she becomes the young master's lover, which results in pregnancy. What is an uneducated, unwed mother to do, aside from engaging in the lucrative profession of wet-nursing? But temptation leads Susan astray again, and a second illegitimate child is sent away by her father. Frantic, Susan sets off to locate the baby and lands in the foster home where he has been placed-as his wet nurse. Verdict Susan is blatantly immoral, but readers will be charmed by her lively voice. This and the cast of quirky characters, along with a fascinating glimpse into the underbelly of Victorian life, make up for a somewhat thin plot. Recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory (see review on this page), although this novel is lighter fare. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/09.]-Jamie Kallio, Thomas Ford Lib., Western Springs, IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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

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