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My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

My Notorious Life

by Kate Manning

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4093638,999 (3.89)15
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    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (wandergirl881)
    wandergirl881: Well researched historical fiction

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I enjoyed reading about the pour female souls of the 1800’s and how they dealt with unwanted pregnancies and female afflictions. The heroine of the story never last her focus of taking care of womwn in their hour of need. It is still shoking to read how women were treated as less than human in many circumstances. Many twists and turns, interesting read.. ( )
  janismack | Sep 30, 2018 |
As usual, historical novels that explore an unappreciated segment of society proves to be interesting reading. Mid-century New York was filled with immigrants, including women who found themselves with children they could not afford, and no legal way to protect themselves from bearing more children. When Axie Muldoon and her two siblings are sent on the orphan’s train to Illinois, she refuses to stay and returns to New York City. She finds her mother and watches her mother die delivering another child. Axie finds herself apprenticed to a midwife who also provides abortions. Going into business for herself, Axie and her husband find there’s an eager market among the wealthy for birth control and abortions. Of course, not only are abortions against the law but the selling of birth control raises the ire of the law. She is jailed…..but it isn’t the end of how she helps women. ( )
  brangwinn | Aug 21, 2017 |
"Them officials lived in a world of smoke and pronouncements, rooms full of throat clearings and whiskey breath, whereas we, my customers and me, lived just in our own flesh, the blood and bones. We were factories of blood and bones, in fact. These authorities knew nothing of us and what went on in our private country. They could not be bothered. How are they to guess which woman was interfered with by me and who wasn't or why? Blood was blood and women was bleeding regular all the time. Who was to know the difference? Who would come forward? Who would tell? No one. There was no need. There was nothing but shame in telling. It was for ourselves, in danger, that we decided. And for our children. It was not the business of men, despite the kindly philosophers' parlor pontifications on the subject. These matters was now, and always was, for a female to determine. We knew how to keep our secrets. Our lives and honor depended on it."

Stunning and monumental; Notorious Life is a riveting tale. Manning has created with astonishing skill a provocative, devastating portrait of a character who is fictional, yet richly steeped in historical truth. I would describe My Notorious Life as a saga, as the narrative and emotional scope of Manning's novel is considerable. I was enthralled by Axie and her impossible journey from an impoverished orphan, to a midwife's apprentice, to an empowered force to be reckoned with. As an early champion for women's rights, she faces indomitable obstacles as she midwifes, promotes and distributes contraceptives, and performs early-term abortions. Her compassion for women, her resilience, and yet also her vulnerability as she grows to be one of the most notorious figures of 19th century America is haunting and unforgettable. Most exquisite is Axie's pluck and her running commentary on society and culture as she scales the social ladder and ventures into motherhood, yet maintains a connection to her humble roots. One of my most powerful reads this year, and easily my favorite heroine. ( )
  GennaC | May 5, 2017 |
This is a fictional account based on the real life woman, Ann Trow Lohman, once called "The Wickedest Woman in New York" for her work as a midwife in the mid 19th century.

I found the stylistic choices the author used annoying, such as - instead of quotation marks, ***to fill in the blanks of coarse language, and a tendency to use CAPITALIZATION a lot (which thanks to texting, I read as someone screaming). But since the book is written as a diary/autobiography of Ann's (Axie) I tried hard to get over my annoyance.

The strength of the book is the theme of the plight of women when their fates were tied to men and they had little choice or resources at their disposal. Pregnancy, high maternal death rate, the lack of birth control methods, extreme poverty, abandoned and orphaned children, etc. There are some controversial topics presented and regardless of personal beliefs it would be impossible to feel nothing but sympathy for the plight of these women.

This should make for a lively and interesting discussion at my book club meeting. Right now I'd rate this one between a 3 and a 4 but will wait till after the discussion for a final rating. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
I loved this book. It was beautifully written and completely engaging. Wonderful historical references and expert character development. What a great read! ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
It has taken more than 100 years for Madame Restell to find a champion, but Kate Manning’s rich and vivid novel based on her life is worth the wait.
added by Capybara_99 | editThe Nation, Katha Pollitt (Oct 28, 2013)
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For my children, Carey, Oliver, and Eliza And my husband, Carey
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Note: The following memoir was discovered in a bank vault belonging to my great-great grandmother Ann, upon her death, in 1925, at the age of seventy-eight.
Chapter One - Confession------ It was me who found her.
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me, and how the red wild sparkles dimly burn thru the ashen grayness--- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The notorious
Madame X is a midwife
And abortionist.

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An evocative tale based on the life of a controversial Victorian New York City midwife features plucky orphan Axie Muldoon, who recounts her apprenticeship and establishment of a thriving practice that is threatened by a censorious zealot.

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