Loosely based on the life of Ann Trow Lohman (aka Madame Restell), the infamous abortionist who became known as “the Wickedest Woman in New York,” Manning’s second rags-to-riches novel (after Whitegirl) nimbly resurrects the bold woman behind the scandalous headlines. Manning’s Axie Muldoon endured a scrappy childhood as the fierce and foul-mouthed eldest daughter of Irish immigrants living amidst the filth of lower Manhattan. She began her midwifery apprenticeship at 14, and learned when to administer “Lunar Tablets for the relief of Female Obstruction,” before becoming the renowned Madame X with a thriving business (her newspaper ad reads “Renowned Female Physician”) of her own. Manning paints a vivid portrait of this daring yet deeply compassionate woman who is willing to flout convention and defy the law in the name of women’s reproductive rights. While Muldoon’s public battle against the “lying weevils and scandalmongers of the New York press” as well as old codger Comstock—the Chairman of the Society for the Suppression of Vice—take center stage throughout the latter half, it’s the details of Madame X’s private life, told in her thick Irish brogue—about the search for her long-lost siblings, her fiery relationship with her devoted husband, and her growth as a mother—that lend a human face to a this sensational figure. Agent: Sarah Burnes, The Gernert Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/24/2013 Release date: 09/10/2013 Genre: Fiction
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