** My Notorious Life by Kate Manning


My Notorious Life is that of Axie Muldoon, starving orphan, to become Mrs Jones and eventually Madame DeBeausacq as she acquires in succession a quite wonderful husband and a business selling “women’s” medicines. I liked the first third of the book best, in which Axie loses her mother and her siblings and finds a life for herself apprenticing to a female physician. The middle part, in which she and her husband start peddling dubious (to me!) medicine seemed, at times, a bit self-serving. The last part, in which she is targeted by the redoubtable Anthony Comstock and sued for being an abortionist seemed strident to me (and the ending trite). Axie’s strong voice for women’s rights and her earthy personality endures throughout the story, happily.

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