Kate Manning is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Whitegirl. A former documentary television producer and winner of two Emmy Awards, she has written for the New York Times, Glamour, and More magazine, among other publications. She has taught writing in the English Department at Bard High School Early College and lives with her family in New York City.
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Not just a splendidly page-turning story of an angry orphan
clawing her way up in the world, but a gripping docu-drama about
women's business (in several senses) in nineteenth-century America.
My Notorious Life gives midwifery its full dues: the glories
and the miseries, the feminism and the money, the literally bloody
ethical dilemmas. Unflinchingly memorable."--Emma Donoghue, author
Kate Manning has taken a little known nugget of history and spun it into a remarkable novel that is mesmerizing and resonant. Her New York City of the late nineteenth century is passionately evoked, and Axie Muldoon is as fierce and alive a character as I have read in recent fiction. In its exploration of a subject no less pressing now than it was over a hundred years ago, My Notorious Life is an essential novel for our time."--Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin
"My Notorious Life is wonderful fun. The wit and verve of its unsinkable heroine make this novel a delight to read, even in its most harrowing passages. Beyond that, it's a book that matters--now more than ever. Faithfully true to the time of its setting, it is also extremely relevant to ours."--Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Color of Night
"My Notorious Life is a must read for anyone who likes their novels smart, entertaining and provocative. Axie Muldoon's lively, remarkable story begins with an unexpected death and an identity switch and never lets up until the end. Masterful."--Whitney Otto, author of Eight Girls Taking Pictures
"A rollicking romp through 19th-century American contraception inspired by the true story of a Manhattan midwife... highlight[s] controversies regarding 'reproductive health' that are still raging today. Axie's profane Irish brogue is vividly recreated... her voice never fails to entertain."--Kirkus Reviews