The Quintland Sisters is a fascinating look into the lives of Canada’s famous Dionne quintuplets. Born in the midst of the great depression, the Dionne quintuplets soon became a public obsession that lifted the public’s spirits during trying times. But at what cost to the girls?
Emma Trimpany is a seventeen-year-old local girl who attends the birth of the Dionne quintuplets with the midwife to learn the trade. Madame Dionne did not know she would have five babies and Emma did not realize she was now a part of an extraordinary event. As she works to keep the five tiny infants alive, she becomes a caregiver through the years as the Canadian government takes them from their parents and raises them in a nursery across the street where they are put on the display for tourists. Emma keeps a diary of the strange events and also draws the girls as they grow. Does the family or the government have the best interest in the girls at heart? Who should raise the girls?
Emma was born with a birthmark on her face and is trying to find her place in the world. Her parents do not want her to pursue her art, but instead want her to find steady employment during the great depression. Emma loves the girls, but she also wants romance in her life. Will Emma be able to find love and her place in the world?
I had heard of the Dionne quintuplets, but I learned a lot in this novel, which overall, made me sad. The story ends with their visit to the queen as children and has a bit of a fast forward to when they are in their twenties. The novel left me thirsting for more information on the girls. Luckily at the end of the novel, Wood had an excellent author’s note and question and answer section that gave more information on the them. I was sad to hear that there isn’t much left when you visit where they grew up in northern Ontario. I was also intrigued that they were five identical babies as I didn’t realize that before. There still has not been a set of identical quintuplets that has made it to adulthood besides the Dionnes, which is an amazing feat.
I enjoyed Emma’s story. I really liked the story of a woman trying to find her place in the world in the 1930’s. There were harsh realities of that time that were hard to live through.
The novel is told as Emma’s first-person diary entries with news articles (mostly real, some edited) interspersed throughout the entries to give a fuller account. Emma is a fictional person in a real world, but her story itself was quite tragic. I got to the end and had to just sit in quiet for awhile I was so distressed.
Overall, The Quintland Sisters is a fascinating look into tragic story of the Dionne Quintuplets and the life of women in the 1930’s.
Book Source: Review Copy from William Morrow Books for being a part of the TLC Book Tour. Thank-you! For more stops on this tour, check out this link.
About The Quintland Sisters• Paperback: 464 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 5, 2019) "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..