Erica Eisdorfer, long-time manager of the Bull’s Head Bookshop in Chapel Hill, has been earning rave reviews for her new novel, The Wet Nurse’s Tale. I’ll admit that I haven’t read the book yet (part of the reason that it has been mentioned in this space before), but I was pleased to see Carolyn See’s review in today’s Washington Post, which praised the book as “informative, unusual and intelligent.” Here’s a quick excerpt, about the novel’s glimpses into Victorian England:
The merit of this novel is in the considerable information it gives us about the lives of the servant class, how domestic life actually worked in those days, and the strange station that a wet nurse might occupy in a household, isolated between social classes but utterly indispensable. (Also included here are a dozen mini-chapters that are statements from women of the day, each of whom has her own good reason for putting her children out to nurse, ranging from breast infections, to mental illness, to helping with parish work or the harvest, to prostitution, to a mother’s death, to simply not wanting to lose one’s figure.)
See’s review follows on the heels of similar praise in the News & Observer, where Ruth Moose wrote: “Recently at a conference, one speaker remarked that ‘books will only be dead when women stop reading them.’ As long as books such as The Wet Nurse’s Tale are being published, women will be reading, and books will always be alive.”
Does the next of Moose’s comments — calling the novel “truly a woman’s book” — reveal part of the reason I (a guy) haven’t picked it up yet? Perhaps. Yet the praise being heaped on the book certainly commands attention, and I hope that the right readers continue to find it. And for those looking to find Eisdorfer herself, she’ll be at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village on Saturday, August 29, at 11 a.m., finishing up her tour of local bookstores.
Meanwhile, I’m back to my Mike Hammer novel… or actually, the new Margaret Maron.