Lilli DeJong by Janet Benton
There isn’t much happy going on in this book but then, finding yourself single and pregnant in the late 19th century you would not expect to find a break. Life for women was hard and being a single mother branded you for an even harder life.
Lilli DeJong Quaker family casts her out when her condition becomes evident. She finds shelter in a home for unwed mothers but the understanding is that in return for her care she will give (sell) the baby for adoption. Lilli thinks this is her only choice considering her circumstances but once she sees her daughter and is allowed to feed and care for her the first three weeks of her child’s life, Lilli knows the last thing she will do is give her up.
But she is unemployable for any position except as a wet nurse, which she accepts. It breaks her heart to be giving another baby her own milk while she boards her daughter with someone else. Lilli never stops trying to have her baby with her, no matter the hardship or consequences, even if it means they die in each other’s arms.
This historical novel reads as a novel but the information about the conditions for women like Lilli, the Victorian societal restrictions, the homes for mothers, the possibilities available to them in giving their babies to what are called baby farms, hovels where babies die rather than thrive, the life of a wet nurse, all make this an amazing treatise to the tie between mothers and their babies.
I was absolutely spellbound by this book. The historical perspective was spot on, the story was seamless. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this!