“The Quintland Sisters” Review

My mother and grandmother often talked about the Dionne quintuplets – 5 little girls who were born in 1934 during the Depression in Canada. They were the first set of quintuplets to survive and they captured the world’s attention. The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood is a fiction account of the first five years of these babies’ lives. It was published in 2019, so it should be easily available on Libby or by request from the library.

The narrator of the story is Emma Trimpany, a teenage girl who is called to help the midwife at the birth of Mme. Dionne’s baby. To everyone’s surprise, there is not just one baby, but five! The parents, midwife and attendants are astounded – they don’t have the supplies or equipment to help these babies survive. Dr. Allan Dafoe, a country doctor, is called in and does everything he can to keep them alive and free from germs. But he also begins to profit from the media attention. Emma likes him, but sometimes wonders if he is doing the best thing for the babies.

I loved the character of Emma – she is a shy, artistic girl who has always felt like an outcast due to a large birthmark on her face. She gives the reader an honest look at the quintuplets’ situation through her eyes. She truly loves the girls for themselves, not as a spectacle or a money-making project.

The parents of the quintuplets are not likeable at all in this fictional account. Neither are several of the nurses and doctors. There is always a question of the cost of caring for the babies and who is going to profit from advertising and TV contracts. Even so, Emma gives us a focus on the babies themselves – not as five identical girls, but as five different individuals. Throughout the five years of the story, Emma grows stronger and comes to know herself and the world more clearly as the babies grow into little girls. I was disappointed in the ending – it seemed really abrupt, as if the story had gone on for too many pages and had to end ‘now’. Even so, I enjoyed the story of The Quintland Sisters.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: