The Day She Cradled Me – Sacha De Bazin

Posted: February 7, 2013 in general fiction, Review

the day she cradled meMinnie Dean was the only woman hanged in New Zealand, in the mid1890s.  A baby farmer who bought babies given up by their families before placing them with adoptive parents for a fee, she was accused of murdering children in her care and disposing of their bodies.

This book is based on facts gathered from trial transcripts, records, newspaper reports, etc, but tells the from Minnie’s point of view. In her version the babies and children accidently died and she panicked and buried the bodies in the garden.  This is plausible as the infant mortality rate was high in the 1890s and she was viewed with enough suspicion by the authorities that she would be in serious trouble.  Society in 1890 was male focused and anyone different was frowned upon.  By today’s standards there was reasonable doubt but things were different then.

This book is thought-provoking and very well written, showing another side to the story.  I knew of the crime growing up and always thought Minnie Dean was an evil monster who went around smothering babies and got what she deserved.  Now I think this is another David Bain case and you’ll never be sure of her guilt.  This is a good read though the historical facts are a bit dry and slow going.  I’m not sure how interesting the case will be to international readers but it does show how life was back then for pioneers.

Black Swan

Supplied by Random House

Reviewed by Jan

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