Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

Charlotte Lamb has made a mistake. A grave mistake, but one that-could you say-was made innocently enough? Even so, there are consequences, and they demand Charlotte pay a heavy price for her error in judgment. After all, the daughter of a vicar can’t expect to live out those consequences in full view of her family and her father, God forbid. Not that Charlotte wanted to leave, but her father could not-would not-allow her to remain under his roof. And so her life and the lives of many associated with Charlotte, were altered forever.

Reading Lady of Milkweed Manor is like being caught in a web. It grabs you in the heart and refuses to let go. The reader is emotionally tangled in many ways, restless with maternal feelings that are all too familiar, yet wonderful. As a mother I found this novel hitting too close for comfort as I asked multiple times “Could I have done that?” I ached for the decisions Charlotte had to make, and at times, seemingly, unfair at that. However, Klassen has so thoroughly researched the topic of wet nursing in the Regency Era that the unfolding of events may not appear fair, but they are accurate. In fact, writing of the breastfeeding experience was calculated and precise. Any mother who has nursed and then weaned understands when Charlotte tells her little one, “Very soon, you will not remember this time together. But I shall always remember. And I shall miss it.”

One of the study questions at the end of the book asks “Were you satisfied with the ending?” Klassen did everything right, not only with the ending, but within each page of the novel. As entertaining and emotionally addicting as the plot and characters were, the reader will live a mother’s life in the Regency era vicariously through Charlotte. It was thought-provoking without being preachy. The ending, oh yes, the ending was very satisfying! Lady of Milkweed Manor is one of the best novels ever written in regards to motherhood and the sacrifices moms sometimes choose to make, and at others, the choices that are thrust upon them.

Be forewarned. There is very little about Klassen’s novel that will leave you unmoved, untouched, unchanged. Reading Lady of Milkweed Manor will stir strong feelings, and yet, you will relish every moment of it.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bethany House; Reprinted edition (January 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764204793
ISBN-13: 978-0764204791
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches