Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow books for sending me a free copy of The Quintland Sisters in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my onw.
For fans of Sold on a Monday or The Home for Unwanted Girls, Shelley Wood’s novel tells the story of the Dionne Quintuplets, the world’s first identical quintuplets to survive birth, told from the perspective of a midwife in training who helps bring them into the world.
Reluctant midwife Emma Trimpany is just 17 when she assists at the harrowing birth of the Dionne quintuplets: five tiny miracles born to French farmers in hardscrabble Northern Ontario in 1934. Emma cares for them through their perilous first days and when the government decides to remove the babies from their francophone parents, making them wards of the British king, Emma signs on as their nurse.
Over 6,000 daily visitors come to ogle the identical “Quints” playing in their custom-built playground; at the height of the Great Depression, the tourism and advertising dollars pour in. While the rest of the world delights in their sameness, Emma sees each girl as unique: Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Marie, and Émilie. With her quirky eye for detail, Emma records every strange twist of events in her private journals.
As the fight over custody and revenues turns increasingly explosive, Emma is torn between the fishbowl sanctuary of Quintland and the wider world, now teetering on the brink of war. Steeped in research, The Quintland Sisters is a novel of love, heartache, resilience, and enduring sisterhood—a fictional, coming-of-age story bound up in one of the strangest true tales of the past century.
The first time I heard of these real life quintuplets was in a Louise Penny book, who is a Canadian author. I couldn’t believe that anyone would chose to put their children on show, like a sideshow, just because they were from a multiple birth. Already knowing a little about the girls, I enjoyed reading even more about the quintuplet’s lives in this novel. It’s amazing how many people came to see them everyday, and were willing to pay the entrance fee in the middle of The Great Depression to boot. Honestly, I feel like this is something that you might see today, but not back then!
Emma, the quint’s nurse, was an endearing character and I enjoyed reading from her point of view. Make sure to read the author’s note at the end, it gives a few quick facts about ‘where they are now’, which tied everything up. I definitely appreciate the amount of research in this book and overall enjoyed it. I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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