Reading Group Discussion Questions
- After reading Lady of Milkweed Manor, do you view the foundling hospital “turn” as a compassionate practice, or one that was too easy on fallen ladies?
- Was the topic of wet-nursing new to you? What surprised you about its history and practice? How would you have felt about having a stranger living in your home, nursing your infant for you?
- Did you learn anything new about milkweeds or monarch butterflies? How did you feel about the imagery in this novel and epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter?
- Reverend Lamb remained unforgiving, but did you notice a possible act of compassion toward Charlotte? How would it feel to grow up without a father’s love and approval? How did Charlotte’s relationship with Daniel’s father serve to fill this hole in her life?
- How is the historical “puerperal insanity” Daniel’s wife suffered from similar to or different from modern postpartum depression? Have you or someone you know suffered from this very real condition?
- In the early 1800s there was much competition among medical practitioners for the delivery of infants (physicians, midwives, accoucheurs). Does this same competition exist today? Is competition in this field beneficial, or not?
- It is much more common (and economically feasible) for a single mother to raise a child on her own today than it was in the 1800s. Faced with Charlotte’s decision for the future of her infant son, what do you think you would have done?
- Which of Charlotte’s various suitors throughout the novel did you like most? Would you have made the same choice Charlotte did?
- Did the revelations about the character’s lives in the final chapter and epilogue surprise you? Were you satisfied with the ending?
- How would you describe the book’s theme or message? What effect did the book have on you?