"A historical novel that will enthrall you... I was utterly captivated..." — Joanna Goodman, author of The Home for Unwanted Girls
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.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)|
About the Author
Shelley Wood is a writer, journalist, and editor. Her work has appeared in the New Quarterly, Room, the Antigonish Review, Causeway Lit, and the Globe and Mail (UK). Born and raised in Vancouver, she has lived in Montreal, Cape Town, and the Middle East, and now has a home, a man, and a dog in British Columbia, Canada.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story of Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Marie and Émilie, better known to the world as the Dionne quintuplets, is told from the perspective of the fictional Emma Trimpany, a 17 year-old Canadian who assists at the birth of the famous girls. The first ever surviving quintuplets were born in Northern Ontario in 1934 to a French-Canadian family already struggling to support their five older children. The babies are made wards of the British King through the Dionne Quintuplets’ Guardianship Act of 1935 and taken away from their parents. A facility was built to take care of them, but soon those involved with the decisions, found a way to profit by the quintuplets fame, selling their likenesses to advertisers and setting up a viewing gallery for visitors. All told, about 3,000,000 people walked through the gallery between 1936 and 1943. This heart-breaking story is told through the journal entries and letters of Emma as well as actual newspaper articles. Painstakingly researched and beautifully written this tragic story about the exploitation of the Dionne girls, is retold for new generations that may have only heard of them through the stories of their mothers or grandmothers. This fictional account is a lesson in history as well as a warning of how a well-meaning society can fall prey to greed and self-serving injustice. Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow Paperbacks for the eARC.
Life in a fish bowl #partner Thanks to William Morrows and TLC Book Tours for this copy of The Quintland Sisters. In the days before fertility drugs made multiple births a common occurrance, a miracle occurred in 1934 when 5 identical girls were born 2 months premature to a poor farmer’s wife at home in Ontario, Canada. They had a combined birth weight of just 13 lbs 6 oz and we not expected to survive. But they survived and thrived, capturing the world’s fascination during The Great Depression. In this novel, based on true events, we get a glimpse into the fish bowl life of the Dionne quintuplets, the world’s first quints. Told from the perspective of Emma Trimpany, a young girl who reluctantly attends the birth as a midwife’s apprentice, and then becomes a nurse to the quintuplets when they are removed from the home they shared with their parents and 5 older siblings. The government makes them wards of the British king and a hospital/nursery is built for them across the street from their parent’s home. Soon thousands of visitors, including celebrities like Amelia Earhart, pay to watch the girls play through a one way viewing area. As corporations vie for endorsements from the quints, money starts to pour in and the girls become caught in the middle of an explosive tug of war between their parents and Dr. Dafoe who delivered them and serves as their chief caretaker. Though the quints are central to the novel, this is also a coming of age novel about Emma. She’s just 17 when the girls are born, and not convinced she wants to be a midwife, though her mother feels its an ideal occupation. Emma is content to be in the shadows because of a port wine stain birthmark on her face that robs her of self-confidence. But as she helps keep the girls alive in those early days, she realizes that she is capable. She sees and loves the uniqueness of each of the girls and in turn she becomes a key figure in their lives. As they thrive, so does Emma’s confidence. I’ve always found it a bit unfathomable how the Dionne quintuplets could be taken from their parents by the government and displayed as an oddity or tourist attraction. And yet, at times it appears that perhaps they were better off to be taken from their parents. The author presents both sides here. After reading though, I found it interesting to see what the quints themselves had to say about their childhood by doing some additional reading. I really enjoyed this one!
I have to say this book cover caught my attention right away. I thought the idea of the story was interesting. I didn't realize that this book is fiction based on the true story of the Dionne Qunts. The life these babies to young girls had from their birth was really interesting. So many people were involved in every choice that effected their lives since they were a national phenomenon. I liked the section at the end that tells you what happened to them all after they became adults. It certainly was a different time and people really thought of things differently than today but something that never changes is peoples curiosity about things unknown and also their need for money.