Sunday, July 9, 2017

Janet Benton

Janet Benton's new novel is Lilli de Jong.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You note that you came up with the idea for the book when you were caring for your baby. What specifically inspired the creation of Lilli?

A: That’s where the mystery comes in, where her specific voice came from. I was learning about wet nurses in history and nursing my daughter, and I started hearing a young wet nurse railing about the unfairness of her circumstances. The young man paid no price for their night of indiscretion, and look at her. It was an act of empathy, I suppose. A character began to take shape.

Q: What kind of research did you do to recreate Philadelphia in the 1880s, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?

A: I was surprised at how much people hated and still hate unwed mothers. They had sex without being married, whether it was consensual or not, yet these people didn’t and don’t hate the woman’s partner or rapist. The woman alone bears the shame and the hatred.

In my research, I learned that these young women were shunned, hounded on the streets, victimized over and over. They would hide their pregnancy with tightly laced corsets, but that eventually would become too painful, and imagine what that would have done to the baby.

And most hospitals were...[read on]
Visit Janet Benton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue