This was an easy-reading, interesting story inspired by a real midwife who became one of the most controversial figures in Victorian New York City.
I especially loved the first half of the book, it reminded me of Angela's ashes and Gangs of New York. My heart broke for Axie, Dutch and little Joe having to beg for scraps of food, being taken from their mom and then being split up from each other, and handed out like parcels.
The second half of the book was very thought-provoking, as I've never thought about life without contraceptives. Imagine a life where you have to give up your children because you can't feed them, just to find yourself pregnant a few months down the line. So even if you are a pro-lifer it's very difficult to condemn Axie, and her patients for making the decisions they did.
I really enjoyed Axie's character, she felt very real. A true survivor, with no regard for society's expectations, she is also extremely human with loads of trust issues and an insatiable greed for money (security).
My only issues with My Notorious Life was that I thought the second half could have been a bit shorter. I also had problems with *'s being used for the swearwords, for example c**p. I found myself spending a lot of time deciphering these expletives.
All in all I'm glad I met Axie and was introduced to this aspect of Victorian life.
The Story:Axie Muldoon, the headstrong daughter of Irish immigrants, forced to beg for pennies as a child on the brutal streets on New York City, grows up to become the most successful - and controversial - midwife of her time. When she is taken in by a Manhattan doctor Axie learns the craft that she will live by - and later fight for. She rises from the gutter to the glitter of Fifth Avenue high society, and discovers that the right way is not always the way of the church or the law. As Axie's reputation grows she finds herself on a collision course with the crusading official who would be the righteous instrument of her downfall. It will take all of her power to outwit him and save both herself and those she loves from ruin.