"A historical novel that will enthrall you... I was utterly captivated..." — Joanna Goodman, author of The Home for Unwanted Girls
AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Here’s the weirder-than-fiction true story that inspired this propulsive debut novel: In the 1930s, after the world’s first surviving quintuplets were born to a poor francophone family, the Ontario government turned the babies into the country’s biggest tourist attraction. The Quintland Sisters mixes letters, newspaper articles, journal entries, and meticulously researched facts with tense fiction to reconstruct this baffling moment in Canadian history. Shelley Wood’s colourful narrator is teenage midwife Emma, who’s present for the first five years of the babies’ remarkable lives. The quintuplets’ wide-eyed, devoted caregiver is an instantly lovable character.