The Wet Nurse's Tale
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Wet Nurse's Tale

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,721 ratings  ·  387 reviews
Bright and clever with a sharp-tongued, adventurous heroine who offers a candid and often funny look at the business of nursing babies in Victorian England, this is a debut novel that will have everyone talking.

Susan Rose isn't the average protagonist: she's scheming, promiscuous, plump, and she is also smart, funny, tender, and entirely lovable. Like many lower-class wome...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 6th 2009 by Putnam Adult
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wet Nurse's Tale, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Wet Nurse's Tale

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

Approximately half the population's got 'em.

And throughout the centuries, women have used them to earn money. Baring them on film and in magazines. Shaking them while twirling aroung poles. Using 'em to feed babies.

Wait! What?

That's right. Their main purpose is for feedin' the young'uns. And not that long ago, a woman with few other options could make a living by breast feeding.

After an accidental pregnancy leaves her lactating, Susan Rose earns her keep by going from house to house, fe...more
Mar 08, 2010 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: Nancy
Shelves: hist-fic
Susan Rose has been brought up by an abusive drunk of a father and a mother forced into wet-nursing to keep hearth and home together. When Susan, in service at the manor house, finds herself pregnant by the master's son, she is forced by her father into following in her mother's footsteps, only a few weeks after the birth of her son.

Erica Eisendorfer, in a remarkable first novel, has produced a work of originality, interest, and intelligence. No "English rose", Susan is a spirited, strapping yo...more
Erica Eisdorfer nails the Victorian era. She is on top of the class divide, the race divide and the gender divide. Her main character, Susan Rose, speaks in a working-class dialect that is neither stilted nor affected. I value this highly as it is a nuance that something many authors cannot master. Eisdorfer also introduces some characters only for the brief spell of one or two pages, each one sharing his or her reasons for hiring a wet nurse. These people, too, come alive off the page and you g...more
Jake Rideout
Susan Rose's mother is a wet nurse, whose profession is to feed and care for other women's babies until they can be weaned and returned home. Susan's father is a drunk who is always looking for ways to earn an extra shilling. When Susan gives birth to a baby and a desperate mother calls for a wet nurse, Susan finds herself sold to the highest bidder. This is the story of a smart, plucky, adventurous lower-class woman in Victorian England, and it is everything a reader wants in a historical novel...more
"Mammy how I love, how I love you my dear old mammy." Sorry I could not stop humming that while I was reading The Wet Nurse. Not since Jayne Mansfield have breasts done so much for a career.

I did pick this book up on purpose. Am I expecting? No. Am I contemplating a career change? Yes, but nothing in the diary field. I had made a note of The Wet Nurse when the hardcover came out that I wanted to take a look when the paperback was released. It was, I did and I purchased. Why? Historical interest....more
Wonderful Read to Pass BF-ing hours...

BF-ing = breastfeeding, by the way.

As a mother to a newborn, I've been spending a lot of time in the rocker with my baby.

As per the sentiment of the book's protagonist, Susan Rose, when one's nursing one has a lot of time to think...well one has a lot of time, period :)

This book was an immensely satisfying read for me. The character of Susan Rose was very vital and her voice was a pleasure to listen to as I followed her tale.

Ms. Eisdorfer does a masterful jo...more
Sheri S.
Well, I loved this book! Normally I reserve my 5-star ratings to books that I consider an all-time favorite and would read again, but this book is not one of them!!! However, I think I've read too many books lately that have just been OK or had endings that I did not like! But, woo hoo, this fantastic tale did have a great ending and I was just SO happy that I felt compelled to give it my highest rating (normally would have given this book 4 stars, no, probably 4.5!!!)! This was a superbly writt...more
Tina Hayes
Different from your usual reads, Erica Eisdorfer's "The Wet Nurse's Tale" is a story you won't soon forget. Set in Victorian England, this story spins a tale of Susan Rose as she transitions from working as a maid to a career as a wet nurse.

When Susan Rose gives birth to the grandson to the people she works for at the Great House, she is forced to leave her son behind to earn money for her family by working as a wet nurse for the Chandlers. Though Susan's mother lovingly tends to baby Joey, he...more
I had hoped to enjoy this book much more than I did; historical fiction, woman in a trade I know little about. But in the end, it's not a book I'd recommend. As far as plot goes, I felt like it had some real merit. The character was likeable and I sympathized with many of her plights.

The first half of the book seemed to spend too much time in the realm of romance novels -- not even love, just the talk of how women became pregnant. There were small sections interspersed called 'Mrs. ______'s rea...more
The idea behind this book was new and interesting so for that I should have liked to have given it 5 stars. But there was way too much irreverent talk about how the women got pregnant (if you now what I mean). There was never anything sexy...just matter of fact statements. But too much for me to want to recommend to anyone.

The second half of the book was done with all the women getting pregnant and how...and the plot thickened and became very engrossing. I liked learning about how life may have...more
a delightful jaunt into Victorian England's fascinating social classes, as told by a wet nurse.

Becomes a sort of adventure when she sets off to find her own child, and there's even a bit of the "gothic" feel to it. Creative, observant and fun main character. Basically it's "chick lit" for the historical fiction crowd.
The Wet Nurse's Tale is the story of young Susan Rose, who must find work as a wet nurse when her baby is taken from her. I t was very interesting and didn't take long to read the whole book. I liked how the story showed us how hard being a wet nurse could actually be , as well as all the joys each woman experienced holding and loving these precious babies. Back in the Victorian era there were so very many mothers who just didn't want to breast feed the child on their own but who insisted that i...more
A mother's love knows no bounds - a mother will do anything for her child. She will risk death to give her child life, imprisonment to give her child freedom, and will give her child away if it means the child's survival and the mother's heartbreak.

I enjoyed this book very much. The author vanished inside the voice of this wonderful woman named Susan - a woman who is too giving with her favors, who loves her child with her whole heart, and who is a victim of the time and place she finds herself....more
Colleen Turner
I really enjoyed this! It was refreshing to read a book with a character so open, real and raw that you cannot help but feel for her at every turn. When Susan Rose's heart bleeds yours does right along with her. And when she triumphs, no matter how small, you cheer for her every step of the way. She is not perfect, as none of us are, but she is caring, strong and tough as nails when it comes to those she loves dearly.

Susan Rose is a young, large woman working in the Great House of her town along...more
This is a beautifully written novel about a wet nurse in Victorian London. Susan Rose is young woman from a poor family who knows her own mind and is tough as nails. Sent to work in the great house near their village, Susan and her sisters toil away for the wealthy family, ever mindful of the customs and cultural restraints of the day, until Susan is approached by the awkward young Master of the house, and her life is forever changed in many ways.

This is really a novel about nursing. Interesting...more
The Wet Nurse's Tale is a plot driven historical fiction novel about Susan Rose, the witty, illiterate daughter of a wet nurse who works as a maid in the "Great House" in her village. Susan follows in her mother's footsteps and becomes a wet nurse herself after several pantry dalliances with the young son of her employers. The first part of the novel describes how Susan became a nurse and follows her from home to home as she nurses the babies of others at the expense of her own son Joey. The sec...more
I found the main character and wet nurse, Susan Rose, to be quite amusing. I enjoyed that the story came from the perspective of someone of the lower classes who had to "do for herself." I loved much of the humor in her thoughts, basically along the lines that rich people worry about crazy things that poor people don't have time to think about and that the rich make the messses and the poor have to clean them up. Susan is practical and does what she needs to do to survive. Her values are based o...more
Jul 13, 2010 bookczuk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to bookczuk by: plainjane8160
Nice to have another view of the Victorian era, especially told from the other side of the tracks. Susan Rose is a survivor. Her life hasn't exactly been a bed of roses, but she comes through as a rose should, soft and pink in the right places but with a steely thorn for protection. She's pragmatic, loving, and caring. When life bypassed her in the physical beauty department, it gave her a heart that could fill with love.

I've often wondered about the whole Wet Nurse profession. It made sense in...more
Aug 08, 2010 Jodi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Jodi by: goodreads
I absolutely LOVED this book and couldn't put it down! I loved Susan's voice in the story and how she talked to the reader throughout the book. I also loved her pluck and kind-hearted manner throughout the story. For Victorian times she was rather loose but I think she felt more resigned to her position most of the times and did what she did because she felt she had little choice otherwise. I love how she turned her "bad luck" of getting pregnant into a career that offered her some freedom from...more
Susan Rose is the protagonist of this quick read taking place in Victorian England. She is the servant in a rich manor when she realizes she doesn't really mind if the young master takes advantage of her. The narration is pretty funny, especially set in that "proper" time period. Ms. Rose flaunts her plump and buxom figure, since she does not feel that a proper marriage and life at home is in the cards for her; she is a working girl. When Ms. Rose becomes pregnant, she is happy about her son. Ho...more
Kathy Spada
This book was a page turner and the main character, Susan Rose the wet nurse comes alive on every page. She is a strong character who knows how to survive in a time of class distinctions and when wet nurses played a critical role in the world of the English gentry.
What a very interesting plot. The reader follows Susan along from being a common scullery maid to wet nurse and the adventures she embarks on. I really learned a great deal about the life of a wet nurse and how important this role was...more
What a ripper of a read! It had me from the very first sentence, and when you're picking a book up to read in ad breaks whilst watching the telly, you know it must be good!
This is Susan Rose's tale of her life as a wet nurse and her character and voice could not be any richer. Narrated in conversational style, I could just imagine Susan's broad northern England accent telling me her tale in the friendliest voice. I loved this story and highly recommend it!
Caroline M.
This was a really engaging book, alternating the first person story of a Victorian wet nurse and short chapters from the point of view of people who hired wet nurses -- including a posthumous account from a woman who died in childbirth. It's steeped in careful personal and cultural detail (clearly the author did loads of research), but always stays pretty light.
Jun 04, 2010 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I don't think I would recommend this book to someone who hasn't nursed a baby or doesn't want to read about boobs on every page, but it's a gripping yarn. The narrator Susan Rose is quite charming and entertaining. If you like PBS period dramas and books like Sarah Waters' Fingersmith (and babies/boobs), then you'd probably enjoy this as well.
I read a lot of press about this book before its Aug 6th release date and the press was right - WONDERFUL! We were on vacation and could hardly wait til the family fell asleep so that I could finish the book! It's a quick read and will not disappointed you! This was a debut novel and I can hardly wait for the author to write another book!
Susan Rose does bad things for good reasons. Isn't that how we all like our heroines? She follows in her mother's footsteps as a wet nurse and her adventures ensue. The story is told as if Susan is confiding in a friend, as she addresses you as "Dear Reader" throughout. The humor she imbues into sometimes horrifying situations balances the narrative. Her unabashed talk of her work as a wet nurse is entertaining and makes one think about how society has turned from those who breast feed and at ti...more
I had the honor of getting an advance reading copy of the upcoming novel. I truly enjoyed the book and would recommend it. The author has a fresh writing style that I enjoyed. This would make an excellent book club selection.
I enjoy a fast, fun read and The Wet Nurse's Tale at 259 pages fit the bill! Set in 19th Century England, author Erica Eisdorfer paints a picture of a tough, resilient lass who is constrained by her social standing in a class driven society to only a few choices in life, which don't deter her heroine, Susan Rose, from making the most them. Finding herself in the family way, Susan relies on employment as a wet nurse and extracts all the positives that this position gives her, until she finds hers...more
Christy English
I loved this book... I devoured it in one day. The plucky Susan, wet nurse to the rich, never surrenders her own joy and passion for her child. A lovely read. Highly recommended for all historical fiction lovers...
I almost passed it by thinking it was a romance novel, but the title intrigued me and I took it home from a book trading stall. Susan Rose narrates the tale to the reader and it is a fascinating one. The outrage one feels at her plight takes you deep into the story immediately. I love the strong sense of self, seeing her take control of her life and the fearless way she moves about in her world that is not kind to women in poverty. The sides stories throughout the book are somewhat distracting,...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Proper Education for Girls
  • The Book of Fires
  • The Linnet Bird
  • Midwife of the Blue Ridge
  • The Heretic's Wife: A Novel
  • Captivity
  • Lady of the Butterflies
  • The Midwife's Tale
  • The Serpent in the Garden
  • Nectar from a Stone: A Novel
  • Shadowbrook: A Novel of Love, War, and the Birth of America
  • The Taste of Sorrow
  • City of Ash
  • The Elephant Keeper
  • Girl in a Blue Dress
  • The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
  • The Wolves of Andover
  • Bound
The Wet Nurse Tale Carolina: Photographs from the First State University 27 Views of Chapel Hill

Share This Book

“...For having a baby's sweet face so close to your own, for so long a time as it takes to nurse 'em, is a great tonic for a sad soul.” 10 likes
“Losing a baby is not a thing that you could ever get used to, I don't believe.” 2 likes
More quotes…