Wednesday, November 11, 2009

reviewing a review

The Wet Nurse's Tale has had mainly good reviews, I'm glad to report. In part, I think this is because people want to be nice and, like Grace Paley, don't feel like wasting their time on reading a book if it doesn't grab them from the beginning. Every once in a while you'll read a major pan of a major book, but generally, reviewers who are reviewing the lesser known books like Wet Nurse look for something positive to say.

Now, of course, anyone and their Auntie Sue can be a book reviewer. Amazon and Goodreads abound with those of us who wish to opine about what we're reading. And blogs, of course.

I really loved Wolf Hall and I'm really loving The Children's Book. There. Like that, except mostly more so.

Now: I have had some lovely reviews by some larger venues: The Washington Post, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and even New York Magazine which put The Wet Nurse's Tale in their Matrix in the brilliant/lowbrow quadrant alongside Bob Dylan who didn't get all pissed off at a lady cop when she thought he was an escaped mental patient. Now, what writer wouldn't want to be reviewed by major entities such as those? No writer. And grateful as all get out am I that Wet Nurse found its way into those pages. (I lived in fear, I must say, that Wet Nurse would fall into the murky bucket of genre and I'm thrilled that in the eyes of many, it did not.)
Yes, the major review spots are a nice place to see your title appear.

But it takes the smaller reviews by those formerly silent readers who've been given a voice by the internet to make you laugh.

I should say that I understand that it's totally outre to review one's review. But I just couldn't help it in this case. I think I sorta wanted to share the love I feel for this lady due her inquiring mind, her ethics, her ingenuous nature, and her enthusiasm. So below, please read one review of The Wet Nurse's Tale which gave me a great deal of pleasure. It appeared recently on a reader's social networking site. I've redacted her name to protect her innocence although, between you and me, it doesn't need all that much protection.

"This is the story of a professional wet nurse around the turn of the century, and it was REALLY interesting. Some of the women she nursed for didn't nurse their babies because they didn't want to lose their figure or have to be tied down to a baby. Others couldn't because they were too sick or physically unable.Some babies lost their mothers in childbirth. And some rich women would actually send their babies away to a nurse for the first year of their life and then get them back when they were weaned!

I kind of went back and forth about whether or not I thought that wet nurses were better than formula. But I decided that since the water back then was filthy that it was probably a good thing that there wasn't formula or else infant mortality would have been even higher than it was.

All in all, I thought this book was interesting but I can't recommend it because the language was rough, there was a lot of tumbling around in the bushes and other "earthy" parts (as my dear friend Julene's mother would say)."

Bless her heart. I thank her for reading it and for liking what she liked. And for taking the time to write about it too.