Cover Image: Madame Restell

Madame Restell

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Member Reviews

Whether or not you believe in abortion, this is a really important [and extremely timely] book to be reading right now. I think it will surprise the reader with just how nuanced the whole book is and with something that is so amazingly researched, I don't understand how someone could not learn SOMETHING from the reading of this book. 

I waited for the audiobook to be released at my library and I am so glad I did - Mara Wilson did an excellent job narrating and I surely hope she narrates more books. She really brings the story to life and that time frame and I would listen to her narrate just about anything. 

What we think is truth isn't always that and we need to remember that, especially in these days. I encourage people to look into the history of this subject, especially after reading this books. And here is truly the most important thing is is NO ONES business what I do or don't do with my body and that goes for E V E R Y O N E. I don't see us policing men and what they do, the same should 100% all be applied to women. We are human beings, just like men and we deserve the same body autonomy that they currently enjoy. Just something to remember. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Jennifer Wright, and Hachette Books for providing this ARC  in exchange for an honest review.
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Madame Restell by Jennifer Wright. Pub Date: February 28, 2023. Rating: 5 stars. First off, kudos to the author for the thorough research she did to create this novel. I had never heard of Madame Restell, but honestly I am so glad she existed. She was a fierce woman who worked hard at women's rights, topic of abortion and pregnancy/postpartum care. This woman performed countless procedures of abortion to women of varying different social classes. The author really delves into the many reasons women may have sought abortions such as being poor, having extramarital relations, being subjected to rape or unfortunate situations, etc. I really thought this book was timely and on point, especially with the recent Roe vs. Wade discussion. I think this is an important novel to read and learn from. Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Books for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review. #netgalley #madamerestell
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I first heard about Madame Restell from a podcast given by The Bowery Boys, New York Historians a few years ago. I was so excited to see that this book was available on NetGalley. It is a fantastically researched and thorough book about the greatest abortionist of all time. Madame Restell was a true heroine! It is a fascinating read from the time that she comes to America as an immigrant, to New York specifically, up through the beginnings of the Gilded Age. And she was something! Headstrong, smart, witty, brave, so brave and determined. She was an activist for women, and thank goodness for her. She became incredibly wealthy from her work so much so that she was able to live in palatial surroundings. This is not only the history of Madame Restell, but also of the country and New York City...It covers the time and the corruption of New York's infamous Boss Tweed, Lincoln coming into office, the Civil War, and most interesting to me....the way men have always treated women, all over the world, as if they were playthings to be owned and told what to do and be. Again, thank goodness for Madame Restell and her strengths! We need more of her kind today. Thank you to NetGalley and Author, Jennifer Wright, for your miraculous book, (it is a wonderful education in Women's History), and to Hachette Books for the egalley in exchange for this very honest review. 
WHAT A FABULOUS BOOK!     If I could, I would give it 10 stars!!!
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Madame Restell lived and worked in New York City in the 1800s. She grew up in England and moved to America with her husband where she learned sewing. But when she was widowed, she needed to find a more lucrative profession. She turned to a neighbor who taught her how to make abortion pills. Eventually, she also learned how to perform abortions and care for clients in her home. Supposedly, she never lost a client. Unfortunately, competitors and moral value "police" hounded her and threatened her business and lavish lifestyle. While Madam Restell seemed to despise women and prefer men, she provided important healthcare at a time when folks waged a campaign to curtail women's power and restrict their access to healthcare.  
This book started out exciting. The author tells a story that feels like a novel. But about halfway through, the book turned heavy. I almost gave up because the content became boring and felt more like a textbook than a story. 
Likewise, the end left me feeling hopeless and includes plenty of "othering." I would have preferred an ending that offers information on how readers can be involved in supporting women. For example, links to contact congresspeople, volunteer opportunities with pro-life organizations,  details about community activist groups, and health information. 
However, the book is written well and I appreciate the extensive source list at the end.
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I absolutely loved this book and how easily I was transported back to the mid- late 1800s to Madame Restell's New York. It was written in a way that made history accessible and enjoyable while keeping the integrity of the story as well as the historical facts straight. You can tell as you read it that Jennifer Wright did her research well and connected to the story. It really helped with my own research for my history podcast episode on Madame Restell as well!
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This was such a fascinating read! Highly recommended to anyone interested in women's rights and women's medical history. Wright so thoroughly researched the history and the writing was extremely compelling. I'll be thinking about this one for a very long time. We will be purchasing copies for the library for sure.
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An unsung (now) but famous or infamous in her own day this book about Madame Restell is fantastic. I loved how Ms Wright weaved a story of not only focusing on Restells profession but the fame fortune and controversy it brought. it also shined a light at how accepted abortion was in the mid-19th century contrary to most of our impressions of Victorian culture. The book also brought Restell's story full circle by showing that the battles she fought are still being fought against the same hypocritical faux-puritans that take over the conversation about womens bodies today.
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A timely profile of one of the most notorious women in 19th-century America. Jennifer Wright's Madame Restell follows Ann Trow Lohman, later known as Madame Restell, as she makes her way from a poor single mother working to make ends meet to a wealthy, and very successful abortion provider. Write deftly and empathetically relays Restell's rise and legal troubles.

The book is well researched and extremely detailed. There are, perhaps, a few moments where the tone gets a bit overly girlbossy for me (but she was an early girlboss in many ways, so it's not unfounded). One thing that will bother me, and possibly 4 other people, is an early conflation of textile factory operatives (AKA mill girls) with the needle and garment workers in metropolitan areas. 

Overall, a delightful and thorough review of a 19th-century power player and how her ghost seems to be haunting today's political landscape.
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There's nothing I like better than well-researched, well-written history that centers on women by women. Madame Restell is all of those things. A very timely story of an abortion provider in the 19th century, one whose name would seemingly be written in our history books but whose story has fallen into obscurity. Such a great read and I will definitely check out other books by this author. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy.
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"Madame Restell" is a fascinating biography of Ann Trow Lohman, a woman who became known as the "Abortionist of Fifth Avenue" in 19th century New York City. Written by Jennifer Wright, the book provides a vivid account of Lohman's life, her controversial career, and the societal issues surrounding reproductive rights during her time.

One of the strengths of this book is the way it explores the complex moral and ethical questions surrounding abortion. Wright presents the issue in a nuanced way, recognizing the difficult choices that women faced during this time and the societal pressures that often led them to seek out illegal abortions. She also highlights the hypocrisy of those who sought to condemn Lohman while turning a blind eye to the poverty and desperation that drove many women to seek her services.

Overall, "Madame Restell" is an excellent biography that sheds light on a little-known figure in American history and the societal issues surrounding reproductive rights. It's a compelling read for anyone interested in women's history, the history of medicine, or the ongoing debate over reproductive rights.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a temporary digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I didn't like this well enough to give it a positive review. About 10 years ago, I read a fictionalized version of this story that flowed much better. While this book has an important history to bring to light, the author's sparky opinions, while amusing, will give some people an excuse to avoid taking it seriously.
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There's no time like the present to talk about abortion and the struggles that women have gone through over time to get adequate care for them. I think that this book could not have come at a more perfect time in our history when women's rights are constantly being challenged by old white men.
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Madame Restell was an immigrant,a pioneer, a wife, a mother, a physician in the envy of her peers. She gave solutions to the problems that plague most young women weather by choice or by force and unlike others in her profession she’s never lost a patient. This is why detective Comstock was set on taking her down. He was a smug policeman with an overblown ego and was the head of Vice in New York City. Madame Restell came to the big Apple in the early 1800 with her husband but when she found herself alone she was forced to find a way to support her self. At first she took in sewing but because that didn’t pay much she looked for a better solution and thanks to different influences she decided to learn how to make pills to help women get rid of problems they didn’t want in eventually would teach herself how to do a surgical abortion and help women with birth control.. I know a lot of people do not think abortions are needed but I always believe that’s those who’ve never been in a position to need one. I don’t think I could ever have an abortion but I can only speak for myself and let others speak for them this book was so good I have read all of Jennifer writes books and although this subject is a hot topic she still told it with all the greatness Jennifer Wright has and what I’ve come to expect from her books. I usually don’t like books where it’s obvious the opinion of the author but you could totally tell what side Jennifer Wright stood with and I totally didn’t mind it. I thought she told her story with the little bit snarkiness and a lot of research and intelligence it is a total five star. I just wish she would write books more often. I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
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Not only is this an informative book on Madame Restell's life, but it's also extremely informative of what the times were like when she was alive. Not only am I learning about New York's most famous abortionist, but I'm learning what it's like to be a woman in the 1830s and beyond, how the conditions were, the laws, the society absolutely dripping in sexism (though we already knew that). 

I absolutely enjoyed every moment of this book and learning about Madam Restell, who wasn't painted as a saint even in this book. She was painted as a human, all the nitty gritty details about her right beside all the best parts. And there were a lot of great parts about her. I got to read about her, see her, in her entirety, not just what was pretty and clean, which is a rare thing to get in 2023. 

What an amazing, informative, enraging, beautiful read.
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“Restell was a businesswoman, a scofflaw, an immigrant, and an abortionist. She made men really, really mad. She deserves a place in the pantheon of women with no fucks left to give.” 
- now I pulled that from the ARC copy I received so is it an actual accurate quote? I don’t know - but it damn well should be. It’s a powerful line and says a lot about not just her, but women who fight in general. 

This book was clearly well researched and written with the respect and appropriate amount of snark that a book like this requires. It’s obviously a pro-choice narrative and if that offends you then either skip it or go in with an open mind and maybe you’ll learn something. 

I really enjoy history like this. This is basically the history of medicine in the 1800’s USA. We get information about surgeons, lack of germ theory (yuck), midwifery, general practitioners and of course abortionists. We even get a look into women choosing a midwife over the hospital because a midwife was the safer option (again because germs). There’s information surrounding limiting the expansion of families (aka birth control that isn’t abortion) but it really is a dive into the life of Madame Restell - a woman I had never heard of - from seamstress to abortionist in New York City. It’s a wild ride. The parallels between 1800’s USA and today are absolutely no surprise to me either, but that’s a different story. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the ebook!
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In Gilded Age New York City, Madame Restell was who you went to see if you needed or wanted an abortion, birth control, or other medical assistance. She helped both rich and poor alike. Restell even allowed some patients to recover for a few days under her roof. She was self-taught and instead of hiding in the shadows, Restell was quite open in her work. As she gained wealth and notoriety, she was quite open in what she was doing by placing advertisements in the newspapers and openly responding to critics in well thought out articles. As a more conservative age started to sweep the nation, where religious men started speaking out even more against women and their health-care needs, Restell continued to help women up to the end of her life. Unfortunately, Restell's story and the work she did for women's health has been hidden for far too long. Jennifer Wright writes a thoughtful, and at times, humorous, story of Madame Restell and her life in medicine.
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It's unfortunate how timely this book is right now. But at least while it's being depressingly relevant, it's also captivating and even fun to read!

Madame Restell is, as the title would suggest, a biography of one of America's most infamous 19th century abortionists, but despite all of the history, her story and the story of the world around her is never dry. Wright spins an engaging tale of an immigrant woman who discovered what she was good at, made a lot of money doing it, and gave very few fucks about what people thought of her. She's not always a good person - and Wright makes room for her less flattering moments - but she is a strong one, as well as someone who is passionate about women's right to make decisions about their own bodies. 

There's tons of information packed into the pages of this book, stretching well beyond Restell's story. Most of the time, the background info and complementary biographical digressions fit in well and enhance the overall picture, though on occasion, I did find myself wishing we could get back to the star of the show. Still, overall, this book is easy to gobble up, even if it does depress you how cyclical history can ultimately be.

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This book takes us on a detailed journey of the life of a British immigrant, Ann Trow, who comes to America and, from her humble beginnings as a seamstress, rises to become one of the wealthiest and most notorious women in nineteenth-century New York: Madame Restell, New York's premiere abortionist. Make no mistake — although Madame Restell also offered other services such as midwifery and birth control, she was, first and foremost, an abortionist. 

This book is highly detailed and well-researched, and far from dry. Jennifer Wright's style reads like you have a well-informed and enthusiastic friend who would like to regale you with all she's learned about Restell, making this a delightful read. 

Through this telling of Trow/Restell's life, we learn how she got her start, ponder where she may have learned her craft, understand the societal context of her time and how it changed, and how those changes influenced public opinion and ultimately, the law. We're also given a look into the multiple lawsuits over the years, which were also significant sources of gossip and speculation. 

I particularly enjoyed the context around what was happening with medicine during that period, when medical education wasn't terribly rigorous or scientific, and male doctors were threatened by the higher success rates and lower patient deaths experienced by midwives. In this area in particular, there are a lot of potential threads to pull if you're the type to want to go off and learn more about some of these adjacent topics. There's enough context to help you decide where to seek this information.
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This book made for a frustrating reading experience. On one hand- Madame Restell was larger than life. The story of her life and work provides a gripping foundation to tell the history of abortion and reproductive rights in 1800's New York. On the other hand, the uneven storytelling and research paired with the often sarcastic tone made me wish a different writer had taken on the task of telling this particular story. It seemed as though Wright focused on mundane side topics, only tangentially related to the topic at hand, filling page after page with heavily researched details which were often lacking from the areas they were meant to contextualize. As a result, it often felt as though major plot points or explanations were glossed over, leaving us to our imagination to fill in the blanks. 
With that said, for readers who are looking for an account of an incredibly interesting and complicated figure from history that is rarely talked about or a brief account of the history of abortion and reproductive health during the time of Madame Restell's life, you will find this to be an engaging and approachable option.
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Timely, well researched and informative, Madame Restelle is an interesting, clear-headed  and  maddening look into the history of women’s reproductive health.
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