A brilliant rendering of a scandalous historical figure, Kate Manning's My Notorious Life is an ambitious, thrilling novel introducing Axie Muldoon, a fiery heroine for the ages.
In vivid prose, Axie recounts how she is forcibly separated from her mother and siblings, apprenticed to a doctor, and how she and her husband parlay the sale of a few bottles of "Lunar Tablets for Female Complaint" into a thriving midwifery business. Flouting convention and defying the law in the name of women's reproductive rights, Axie rises from grim tenement rooms to the splendor of a mansion on Fifth Avenue, amassing wealth while learning over and over never to trust a man who says "trust me."
When her services attract outraged headlines, Axie finds herself on a collision course with a crusading official - Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. It will take all of Axie's cunning and power to outwit him in the fight to preserve her freedom and everything she holds dear.
Inspired by the true history of an infamous female physician who was once called "the Wickedest Woman in New York," My Notorious Life is a mystery, a family saga, a love story, and an exquisitely detailed portrait of nineteenth-century America. Axie Muldoon's inimitable voice brings the past alive, and her story haunts and enlightens the present.
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A compelling story, but an awful reader
I wouldn't listen to this again, because I couldn't stand the reader. Which is annoying, because the story was excellent.
The descriptions of the lives of women of the time, especially lower class women, were excellent. And the medical care they received was stomach turning.
The story already has a melodramatic feel, and she takes it about three steps too far. Her voice becomes grating, and getting through the story took effort.
I loved the topic of the book. At times I thought I would turn if off, and stop listening, but it was so intriguing that after a few minutes I would turn it right back on. I also liked the characters, the time period depiction, and the historical undertones.
Maybe some of Diana Gabaldon's books, similarly there were many parts in her series addressing women's lives in different times of the past, childbirth, daily struggles, stuff like that.
I have never listened to Terry Donnelly before, but she is awesome! She did a good job with the period's English (as much as I can tell), and the various characters' voices. I loved the way she did Axie's friend, Greta's voice, who is a German immigrant. I would listen to more audiobooks narrated by Terry Donnelly.
I highly recommend this book. At times I couldn't believe how little has changed in the leading topic of the book, namely women's rights regarding abortion. It was riveting and also scary. The main character was great, I really liked her, and ultimately the end of the story was good. I was grateful for this, because from the beginning the story just had this black cloud over it. You'll know what I mean when you listen to it! I think this book would be a terrific choice for a book club.