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My Notorious Life: A Novel Kindle Edition
|Length: 449 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
decades and delivered more than a thousand babies, I loved Kate Manning's "My Notorious Life."
This well-researched beautiful historical novel traces the life of Axie, an impoverished Irish girl from the slums of New York City. Sent out west with her siblings on an "orphan train," she is too rebellious to be adopted either by a childless couple or farm families seeking extra hands. How she becomes a midwife -- and the complexities of that profession, meaning weighing the patients'
needs against the "morality," convention and law of the time -- is the heart of the story.
The issues Axie must face and the way she is hounded by the self-appointed guardians of so-called decency are as timely today as they were more than a century ago. Vivid scenes of childbirth and abortion are accurately described.
Highly recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction or have an interest in women's issues or New York City in the second half of the 19th century.
Born as the eldest daughter of poor Irish immigrants in New York, Axie Muldoon has had to learn to survive at an early age. With her father dead and her mother seriously injured in a work accident, Axie and her two younger siblings are found wandering the streets in search of food and fall into the hands of Reverend Charles Brace of the Children's Aid Society. Whilst he initially promises salvation from starvation, Axie will later come to see the encounter as a black mark in her personal history when both her sister Dutch and her brother Joe are given up for adoption to farming families in Illinois. Rebelling against a similar fate, Axie finds herself back in New York, living a life of poverty in the household of her mother's new husband's family. After the death of her mother due to childbed fever she is taken in as servant to a local doctor and his wife Mrs Evans, who acts as a local midwife and seller of female remedies.
Over the years of service in the Evans' household, Axie learns some valuable skills from Mrs Evans, which will later set her career as midwife and herbalist - as well as making her one of the most notorious women in New York, the mysterious midwife and accused abortionist Madame X.Read more ›
Would I read it?
If only as a favor to the sister I never had, of course.
"My Notorious Life: A Novel" arrived. It was everything I do not want. 434 pages. Set in the 19th century. Told in the first person, in 19th century speech. Based, in part, on the life of Ann Trow Lohman (1811-79) also known as Madame Restell, who practiced midwifery in New York for almost forty years.
In sum: a book not likely to hook me, a reader who likes short books about people I might know or want to. But the friend of a friend is my potential friend --- or, at least, someone I can't shun. I started to read:
"It was me who found her. April 1, 1880. The date is engraved on my story same as it is on the headstone, so cold and solid there under the pines. What happened that morning hurts me to this day, enrages me still, though many years have passed.
"The time was just before dawn. She was there in the tub. It had claw feet, gold faucets. Marble was everywhere in that room, so magnificent. A French carpet. A pair of velvet settees, a dressing table, candelabra, powders and pomades, all deluxe. I knew something was wrong right away. When I knocked I knew. There was not no noise of bathing, just that slow drip. That plink of water landing on water, so dreadful. I went in and there she was. A scarf of red across her shoulders, down her chest. The water was red and cold with all her life leaked out. A bloodbath. My hands were trembling. Terrible sounds strangled in my throat, quiet so as not to wake the house.Read more ›
Sorry for the screaming, but this book deserves it. I don't understand why everyone isn't talking about this book, but I guess it just came out in September. Do yourself a favor, and go get it now. Haven't loved a book this much since "The Help," and I loved this one ten times more!!!
Yes, I know the title is terrible. I don't know what the publisher was thinking. Any other title would have been better: "The Diary of Mrs. X," "The True Adventures of Axie Muldoon," "Mrs. Jones Female Lunar Powder," "The Vilification of Madame Debeausacq"... the list goes on and on. The title makes this book seem like something it's not.
Let me tell you what it is: An amazingly rich and detailed look at mid-19th Century NYC from the point of view of one of the city's many immigrant orphans. She's put on the notorious "orphan train" to the Midwest, comes back, and ends up apprenticed to a midwife. As if all that wasn't interesting enough, this is the time in history when male doctors suddenly decided that midwifery was evil, and women had no business caring for other women. The tension between the newly emerging medical community and the thousand-year-old practice of midwifery is fantastic, eye-opening, and will stay with you. It begins with a splash and a mystery, and ends in a deeply satisfying way. Great, great book. Loved every single page.
On top of that, the book is so, so, so well written. The main character Axie Muldoon becomes your best friend, and when the book is over, you will find yourself evicted from the deliciously descriptive world Manning has created, and bereft. Cannot wait to see what Manning does next!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story. Good depiction of a part of history I had not heard before. So realistic I felt I was right there when events were happening.Published 1 day ago by colleen beale
A great description of life of women in thw 1800s in ths US. Hard to imagine a day when women had such poor medical options. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Llyn Carter
This book captured me right away with the heartfelt story of an orphan girl in the mid 1800's in New York. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Paula
I enjoyed the book a lot. Some of the early plot was very reminiscent of "The Orphan Train," I don't know which was written first. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Corey
A raggle taggle tale of a fictional abortionist who endures persecution from Christians intent on saving babies' lives.Published 1 month ago
MY NOTORIOUS LIFE REVIEW
There is an edgy quality to Kate Manning’s novel, “My Notorious Life,” that urges the reader to read on through the lengthy novel. Read more
A story of strength and courage. Axie is in all of us(women). A story that takes place during the Victorian era in NYC. Axie fought for women's rights and for human rights. Read morePublished 2 months ago
A great historical fiction story portraying the struggles woman endured.Published 2 months ago by Bev
Kate Manning scares me a little. She's either been possessed by the deceased woman she based her novel on or she's simply a genius who can inhabit her protagonist like Meryl Streep... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alyssa Donati
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