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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Novel About Dionne Quintuplets Fascinating and Thought-Provoking

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When 17-year-old Emma Trimpany becomes a reluctant assistant to the local midwife, she has no idea she's about to become part of one of the biggest news stories in the history of northern Ontario.  She's as shocked as the midwife when their patient—a French woman, who already has five children—gives birth to five more.  All girls, the Dionne quintuplets are the first of their kind to survive infancy.  As the tiny babies grow into healthy, boisterous toddlers, the world watches with fascination and amazement.

As penniless farmers with a house already bursting full, the Dionnes need plenty of help with both the physical and financial aspects of raising their girls.  In exchange for that aid, their home becomes even more overrun with medical personnel, journalists, and other curious onlookers.  Shy Emma doesn't relish the attention, but she loves the girls fiercely.  To her, they are not a homogenous zoo exhibit; they're children with individual personalities and quirks.  When the Canadian government steps in, taking the babies from their parents and making them subjects of the British king, Emma can't bear to leave them.  Despite the hoopla surrounding their care, she stays on as their nurse.

With the Great Depression raging, the quintuplets are a bright spot in people's lives.  As Quintland takes on an increasingly circus-like atmosphere, with thousands of visitors streaming in to gawk at the captive girls, the children's guardians fighting over their care, and everyone grappling for a piece of the fortune the girls are bringing in, Emma must ask herself how far she's willing to go to protect a brood of children that's not even her own ...

I'd never heard of the Dionne Quintuplets before reading How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, but now I find their story absolutely fascinating.  The Quintland Sisters, a debut novel by Shelley Wood, brings the tale to life through a young, fictional nurse who grows up alongside the famous siblings.  Based on Wood's exhaustive research, the book combines fact with fancy to create an intriguing, thought-provoking read that asks penetrating questions about medical ethics, the price of celebrity, the rights of parents, etc.  While The Quintland Sisters is an episodic novel, with no real plot, I found it riveting nonetheless.  Some may grow bored with the 440-page tome, but I quite enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  I can't think of anything, but reading The Quintland Sisters definitely makes me want to look into the real story through books like Family Secrets: The Dionne Quintuplets' Autobiography by Jean-Yves Soucy, We Were Five by James Brough, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), brief violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Quintland Sisters from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


Want more opinions on The Quintland Sisters?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

Instagram Features

Tuesday, March 5th: Instagram: @giuliland
Wednesday, March 6th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf
Thursday, March 7th: Instagram: @oddandbookish
Saturday, March 9th: Instagram: @basicbsguide
Sunday, March 10th: Instagram: @sjwonderlandz
Monday, March 11th: Instagram: @megabunnyreads

Review Stops

Tuesday, March 5th: As I turn the pages
Wednesday, March 6th: Bibliotica
Thursday, March 7th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Friday, March 8th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, March 11th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Tuesday, March 12th: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, March 13th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, March 14th: BookNAround
Monday, March 18th: Laura’s Reviews
Tuesday, March 19th: Instagram: @lifebetweenwords
Wednesday, March 20th: Instagram: @lindsays_books
Thursday, March 21st: Lindsay’s Book Reviews


  1. I had known of them before the part in Louise Penny's book, but it sounds like I didn't know everything about them. Zoo exhibit? That is just crazy! I'll watch for this one at the library or maybe on audio.

    1. YES! The girls had a glassed-in playground where tourists could come and watch them. So crazy.

      I have an ARC of this one if you want it. I'm happy to send it to you.

    2. Oh, you are kind to offer, but I just checked it out from my library on Hoopla. In audio. I'll hope to get to it next after I finish the one I'm listening to now. I was surprised they already had it.

  2. I've heard of the girls but haven't gotten to that Louise Penny book. I know enough of the story to be prepared for this to be heartbreaking but it sounds well worth it.

  3. I heard about this on another blog yesterday and that was the first time I'd heard of them as well. What a sad story; it's horrifying the way they were looked upon as animals or objects and not children. Their lives didn't seem to improve much when they returned home, either, if you've seen the Wikipedia page on them.

    Really makes you wonder what on earth people were thinking back then.

  4. I'm excited to read this one. (Even though it's 400+ pages long!) My dad used to talk about these quintuplets because they were born the same year as him.

  5. I am really intrigued by this book, I'm going to have to read this one. Thanks for being on the tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  6. I just saw this book listed as a staff favorite at my local indie bookstore. There is something intriguing about people who give birth to multiples.


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