Elisa de Carlo of Diary of a Mad Fashionista authored this book, in between rounds of berating her assistant and firing her phrenologist for causing her incessant migraines. How she managed it, I’ll never know.
For those of you unalarmed by the madness of said fashionista and who love a diverting historical fiction read, this book simply brims with vintage. Throughout the digital pages you will find vintage fashion, vintage language, and more than a few not-so-vintage issues. Set in the time just before women gained the right to vote, this tells the story of 23 year old Melanie Daniels. Her father has returned from a stint in prison after a woman died during a highly illegal abortion he delivered, and now she must face down the rejection of her by her community, and the very real risk of becoming an old maid or settling for a man she doesn’t love. When a mysterious stranger comes to town, Melanie allows herself to be whisked into more trouble than she could possibly imagine – and finds freedom in her ruination.
The Abortionist’s Daughter is about much more than just what life was like way before Roe vs. Wade. It captures the entire frame – and extreme limitation – of being a woman in the early twentieth century. Consciously or not, de Carlo highlights some of the same restrictions now. Melanie faces rejection, acceptance, and exploitation based on her plus-size and beautiful body, and she also has to deal with people judging her by her family’s actions instead of taking her for her own person. While much has changed – women may now legally vote and drink if they wish – the underpinnings of issues surrounding reproductive rights, abusive relationships, and burdens of expectation that women bear that men do not comes to light through each of Melanie’s innocent and less-than-innocent mistakes.
You need not be deep to read this, however. It’s enough to read it for the well-detailed fashion!
You can get this diverting piece of entertainment on Kindle – and it is free through September 5th.