Cafe au Lait
So I have a bit more news about my day at Avon HQ in April. The day starts with coffee with the incomparable Ms. Eloisa James! That’s it – April 13th will officially contain more excitement before breakfast than I typically see in a year.
It’s just a few weeks away – I can’t believe it. I’m excited, but also a bit anxious about being away from my kids overnight for the first time. Especially my baby, for a combination of emotional and physiological reasons.
That (and a CP’s WIP) got me thinking about breastfeeding in historical romance. I like a romance heroine nursing her baby, because I think our society can always use another positive image of breastfeeding. I mean, just a few months ago a woman got kicked off a Delta airlines flight for nursing her child and refusing the flight attendant’s demand that she cover her kid with a blanket (the airline has since apologized).
Although I’m by no means a political “lactivist,” I’m always happy to see any affirmation of nursing, even in a romance novel. But historically speaking, most upper class ladies employed wet nurses. I’ve read different reasons as to why – one being because they could become pregnant again faster and produce more potential heirs. I was doing some searching online and found this fascinating 1612 document on “Choosing a Wet Nurse.” Among other qualifications, a suitable wet nurse must have a thick neck, and preferably chestnut hair – definitely not red. One particularly fun excerpt:
She must have a pleasing countenance, a bright and cleare eie, a well formed nose, neither crooked, nor of a bad smell, a ruddie mouth, and verie white teeth: She must deliver her words well, and distinctly, without stammering: and she must have strong and big necke: for thereby (as Hippocrates saith) may one judge, of the strength of the bodie. She must have a broad and large breast, garnished with two Paps of a reasonable bigness, neither limber, nor hanging down, but betweene hard and soft; full of Azure veines and Arteries, not being either knottie, of swolne bigger than they should be: the nipple which is in the midst of the breasts, ought to be somewhat eminent, and withall a ruddie colour like a Strawberie, it must be of a reasonable bignesse and thicknesse, and of a easie draught, that the child may take it the better, and sucke the easier.
Can you imagine enduring such an inspection? “Hmm. These veins are more sapphire than azure, and the nipple – oh, definitely not Strawberie. More of a Plum colour. Wholly unsuitable. Next!”
Anyway, I open the topic to you. How do you feel about breastfeeding in romance novels? Is this one of those cases where a modern sensibility trumps historical accuracy? And what kind of latte should I order with Ms. Eloisa?