Being born in a poor Irish family in 1860s New York, Axie Muldoon’s life turns to be more than uneasy. Living with her mother, little sister and an abusive uncle in a one-room apartment is not easy. When Axie’s mother gives birth to another baby, taking care of her older children seem impossible. They are sent to the orphanage and later separated.
Axie’s only wish is to find her mother, reunite with her siblings and live as a family again.
But her dreams crushed when her mother dies and brother and sister don’t contact with her anymore.
Going through the struggles, Axie remains a strong, willing and independent woman. She gets a job as an assistant to Doctor Evans and learns everything she can. Soon she becomes a doctor herself, a women’s doctor helping them with so-called “delicate situation”. Abortions were forbidden at the time. Women had to give birth multiple times during their lives and due to a no so helpful medical treatment, especially at the low classes, mothers and babies were at terrible danger in every labor. With the help of her husband Charley, former New York City orphan himself, and now Axie’s business manager, her cabinet gains more and more popular among all the classes. She did the unthinkable, starting her own business and succeeding in it at the time when woman’s place was home raising children.
Axie is now Madame X, a successful women’s doctor, accepting duchesses and celebrities but also not forgetting her origins and helping the poor women and prostitutes for free.
She gains herself a reputation of miraculousness doctor and that’s how she caught the attention of a “shame fighter” Mr. Comstock. He believes women like her are demons and must be destroyed in the name of God. And he wouldn’t rest until he sees Madame X behind the bars or even better; executed.
Axie can deal with everything as long as she has the hope to find her long-lost brother and sister. But do they want to be found? And can they except the scandalous life of their eldest sister?
It was a marvelous historical fiction, and based on the real story of Madame Restell! The struggles of the women in that time period, when men had more rights and were allowed to do everything and women had to deal with the consequences. When every labor was a Russian roulette, 50/50 chances to live or die. Axie is an exceptional woman and very admirable. Her intelligence, hard work, faith and willingness to help brought her very high.
She stood high at difficult situations when everybody seemed against her.
Both Axie and her husband developed a lot through the book, and from frightened, lonely orphans grew into successful, independent and amazing people.
Special thanks to Axie’s husband who was there for her from the moment she was poor Irish orphan to starting her own kitchen pharmacy and to owning doctor’s cabinet. In the world of chauvinistic men, Charley was a shining diamond.
Do read this novel if you like to learn about outstanding historical figures with interesting lives.