Monday, July 12, 2010

The Wet Nurse's Tale-Erica Eisdorfer

The Wet Nurse's Tale
Erica Eisdorfer
Putnam, Aug 3 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425234471

Growing up Susan Rose saw her mom serve as a wet nurse to the children of other women. She vows to be different. Susan works in a wealthy family’s house, but the master's son Freddie leaves her pregnant and alone. She comes home, but her son dies. Her only avenue of income is to do what her mom did to bring in money.

Susan lives a nomadic life nurturing other people’s babies while having no time to grieve her loss except at night. Susan meets a Jewish dentist and has a baby David with him. However, her father sells the infant. Stunned by her paternal betrayal, Susan travels to London to become the wet nurse to her baby. When she discovers an inconsiderate truth about her child’s adoptive family, she takes the baby and flees praying she finds her son’s dad in the Jewish community

Told from the perspective of the title character, The Wet Nurse’s Tale is an insightful look at a pragmatic individual who knows her bosom is her ticket. Although she allows her compassion to at times overrule her logic, Susan pulls no punches even when raped as she goes after what she wants. The secondary characters, her mom, her lovers, and the customers enhance a profound Victorian tale that focuses on how the lower class made a living anyway they could.

Harriet Klausner

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