Earlier this week, I had the exciting pleasure of attending an author reading and talk with Shelley Wood. Shelley Wood wrote the recently released historical fiction title “The Quintland Sisters”, which just so happens to be my favourite read of 2019 so far. Upon finishing this novel earlier this month, I was eager to attend the event to hear about Shelley Wood’s writing process and how this stunning novel was created.
Prior to reading this book, I had not heard of the Dionne quintuplets who were born in 1934 in a rural town in Northern Ontario, Canada. I found it fascinating to learn about this time in our history. I learned that the inspiration behind writing this story was a photograph that the author found while flipping through a book that outlined Canada’s most influential photographs. This photograph introduced her to the Dionne “Quints” and sparked the idea to write this novel. Shelley did much research, reading every article and book about the quintuplets that she could get her hands on. She included real newspaper articles within her narrative which I thought was a brilliant addition to the novel. The newspaper clippings helped weave fact and fiction together, truly blending the reality of what happened with the unforgettable fictional characters she created.
One of my favourite parts of the novel was the endearing protagonist, Emma. It is through Emma’s eyes that we experience the birth and toddler years of the quintuplets. Shelley explained that she wanted to create a character who truly loved the quintuplets for the unique five girls that they were and not the “quintuplet unit” that the world saw them as. For me, Shelley attained this goal, as I felt a deep connection to Emma and could feel her love for the Dionne girls flowing off every single page of the novel.
Shelley Wood was an excellent speaker and had the audience hanging on her every word while she read a passage from her book. She inspired me to look deeper into the fame and government decisions surrounding the birth and development of the quintuplets.
It was very exciting to meet Shelley Wood – a definite highlight of my 2019 reading year! I look forward to her next book!
Heartwarming and heartbreaking emotion. Brilliant and beautiful narration. Shocking and unforgettable detail.
This story is a stunning look into the lives of the world’s first quintuplets born in Callander, Ontario, Canada in 1934. Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Marie and Emilie Dionne shock their parents and the attending doctor and midwives on the day of their birth – five babies instead of one!?!? So tiny and frail, they are not expected to survive the night of their birth.
Emma Trimpany is seventeen-years-old when she accepts the request to accompany and assist the local midwife in attending a birth at the rundown Dionne farmhouse. This single decision changes her life forever, leaving her heart with a permanent longing and attachment to these five babies.
Days after their birth, in the confines of the rickety old farmhouse, the Dionnes’ learn that the government has decided to remove the quintuplets from their poverty-stricken parents, making them wards of the British king. Guardians are appointed and the babies are moved to a custom-built, sterile hospital to keep them safe and properly cared for by full time doctors and nurses. The quintuplets attain instant worldwide fame becoming a destination for six-thousand visitors per day in their custom-made playground observatory at the hospital. Through many ups and downs, Emma spends the next several years of her life dedicated to these five little girls who each uniquely own a piece of her heart.
This novel is skillfully narrated through journal entries, letter correspondence and newspaper articles. Readers get to experience the childhood of the “Quints” through the eyes of Emma, an endearing, vulnerable and truly unforgettable character who I absolutely loved and was hopeful for. I was completely drawn into this story from the first few pages and my astonishment didn’t falter even after I finished the last sentence. The author, Shelley Wood, does an outstanding job weaving fact and fiction, keeping the reader dedicated and emotionally connected to the characters and the outcome.
The Epilogue was exquisite, although not at all what I had expected. It left some things unanswered which was brilliant as it enticed me to do some research of my own. I am eager to investigate further into the story of the Dionne quintuplets and how the government stepped in to control their precious lives. This reading experience has left me baffled and curious in the best of ways – this is a true testament to phenomenal writing and storytelling. A truly remarkable novel!
I loved every single chapter, page, paragraph, sentence and word of this endearing story. This easily takes top spot of my 2019 Favourites List! Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend!
Thank you to HarperCollins for gifting me a physical copy to read and review!
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