An industrious immigrant who built her business from the ground up, Madame Restell was a self-taught surgeon on the cutting edge of healthcare in pre-Gilded Age New York, and her bustling "boarding house" provided birth control, abortions, and medical assistance to thousands of women—rich and poor alike. As her practice expanded, her notoriety swelled, and Restell established her-self as a prime target for tabloids, threats, and lawsuits galore. But far from fading into the background, she defiantly flaunted her wealth, parading across the city in designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and bejeweled carriages, rubbing her success in the faces of the many politicians, publishers, fellow physicians, and religious figures determined to bring her down.
Painfully timely ... Wright’s book tells Madame Restell’s story alongside the broader history of abortion, with regular, blunt reminders of today’s restrictions and hypocrisies ... This is unavoidably a one-sided story ... Heartfelt.
Impassioned and irreverent ... Wright paints a vivid picture of Restell’s rise to prominence and weaves in intriguing details about the history of birth control and abortion. This feminist history fascinates.