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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant rendering of a scandalous historical figure, Kate Manning's My Notorious Life is an ambitious, thrilling novel introducing Axie Muldoon, a fiery heroine for the ages.

In vivid prose, Axie recounts how she is forcibly separated from her mother and siblings, apprenticed to a doctor, and how she and her husband parlay the sale of a few bottles of "Lunar Tablets for Female Complaint" into a thriving midwifery business. Flouting convention and defying the law in the name of women's reproductive rights, Axie rises from grim tenement rooms to the splendor of a mansion on Fifth Avenue, amassing wealth while learning over and over never to trust a man who says "trust me."

When her services attract outraged headlines, Axie finds herself on a collision course with a crusading official - Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. It will take all of Axie's cunning and power to outwit him in the fight to preserve her freedom and everything she holds dear.

Inspired by the true history of an infamous female physician who was once called "the Wickedest Woman in New York," My Notorious Life is a mystery, a family saga, a love story, and an exquisitely detailed portrait of nineteenth-century America. Axie Muldoon's inimitable voice brings the past alive, and her story haunts and enlightens the present.

©2013 Kate Manning (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    124
  • 4 Stars
    99
  • 3 Stars
    47
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    121
  • 4 Stars
    74
  • 3 Stars
    38
  • 2 Stars
    12
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    10

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    134
  • 4 Stars
    78
  • 3 Stars
    36
  • 2 Stars
    5
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    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A compelling story, but an awful reader

Would you listen to My Notorious Life again? Why?

I wouldn't listen to this again, because I couldn't stand the reader. Which is annoying, because the story was excellent.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Notorious Life?

The descriptions of the lives of women of the time, especially lower class women, were excellent. And the medical care they received was stomach turning.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The story already has a melodramatic feel, and she takes it about three steps too far. Her voice becomes grating, and getting through the story took effort.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Axie's quest

What did you love best about My Notorious Life?

I loved the topic of the book. At times I thought I would turn if off, and stop listening, but it was so intriguing that after a few minutes I would turn it right back on. I also liked the characters, the time period depiction, and the historical undertones.

What other book might you compare My Notorious Life to and why?

Maybe some of Diana Gabaldon's books, similarly there were many parts in her series addressing women's lives in different times of the past, childbirth, daily struggles, stuff like that.

Have you listened to any of Terry Donnelly’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have never listened to Terry Donnelly before, but she is awesome! She did a good job with the period's English (as much as I can tell), and the various characters' voices. I loved the way she did Axie's friend, Greta's voice, who is a German immigrant. I would listen to more audiobooks narrated by Terry Donnelly.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book. At times I couldn't believe how little has changed in the leading topic of the book, namely women's rights regarding abortion. It was riveting and also scary. The main character was great, I really liked her, and ultimately the end of the story was good. I was grateful for this, because from the beginning the story just had this black cloud over it. You'll know what I mean when you listen to it! I think this book would be a terrific choice for a book club.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worth a listen - the narrator is talented

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would recommend this audiobook for the talent of the narrator. She effects accents and emotions skilfully.

Any additional comments?

This was a random pick, the details of which I do not recall. However, how coincidental that I chose to read this book so recently after finishing the Orphan Train! This is another fictional account of an orphan train girl who, though not initially an orphan, becomes one eventually. Fortunately, her mother dies in the house of a midwife, and she asked the kind woman to take care of her daughter. The interesting twist about this book (and, I assume, the hook that got me to get it) was that this is based on the journals of a woman who lived in the mid 1800s and practiced midwifery. She was notorious because she also practiced contraception and abortion. The similarities between this book and The Orphan Train were clear: orphans on the orphan train forged close, life-long bonds due to their precarious plights. In both, orphans reunite and marry. In this one, though, the orphan train is a mere detail in a colorful, passionate life well-lived. I recommend this as a fairly enthralling beach read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good story, narrator not great

I had a hard time getting into this audiobook because of the narrator. Her shrill voice irritated me throughout however it was a captivating story and I eagerly listened to the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awful reader

Loved the book!! HATED The reader. Try a sample first!! I don't think I would have listened if I tried a sample first.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

This book will put you in the worst mood ever!!!

Would you try another book from Kate Manning and/or Terry Donnelly?

I wouldn't read another book by Kate Manning as I just hated this one. Terry Donnelly's voice was good for this book's story but I'm not sure I'd like to listen to it again.

What do you think your next listen will be?

not sure. something more uplifting

What about Terry Donnelly’s performance did you like?

It was perfect for the character who "was down and out."

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger, sadness, fury, disgust

Any additional comments?

While I knew a bit about the subject matter of this book, it wasn't a book I picked out to read as it was a book club book. The subject matter is difficult, hard to listen to, and downright horrible. I will invest more time and attention before I order another book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is a must read!!

Take a trip back in time to life as a midwife
in the 1800's. This book is so full of suspense,
it's like your actually part of the characters world. In a time before cell phones or any type of phone, microwaves, GPS, & before ladies rich or poor had any type of birth control prevention. This is life just a decade ago. You get to experience first through the eyes of a midwife how the ladies of that time had a very hard life. This story will undoubtedly change how you feel about the past and show how much better things have become in regards to sex and reproduction. The modern ladies have so much to be grateful for makes you wonder how they did it a decade ago. The narrator is excellent which makes this a wonderful audiobook. I am going to miss these characters.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

It takes a while to get used to the narrator but once you do the story and the narration are magical.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R Fitz
  • Seattle, WA USA
  • 09-25-16

good story

great story, a little graphic at times. didn't love the breathy reading when voicing characters other than the protagonist

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging book and storytelling

The story of this courageous women is compelling and all consuming. The narration adds to the story and helps paint a picture of what life was like for this Irish immigrate turn notorious abortionist.