Thursday, 27 November 2014


I am thrilled that Elisa DeCarlo, author of The Abortionist's Daughter, set in 1916, has written a Guest Post exclusively for Carole's Book Corner looking at how women were not free to do as they pleased 100 years ago.

My review of this fabulous book follows


In 1916, where my novel “The Abortionist’s Daughter” is set, a pivotal question is: can a woman be a free human being? It has been difficult to convey to contemporary women how limited a woman’s life was back then. Historians have called this “The Cult of True Womanhood.” A true woman was pious, submissive, devoted exclusively to her home and family. (It is amazing that is still some people’s ideas of a “woman’s place”!)

 My heroine, Melanie Daniels, lives in a small Adirondack village in upstate New York. Unmarried women look after family members. Married women stay home and raise children. “The weaker sex” are property, owned by either their families or their husband. Not only do they do not have the right to vote but also they are not legally citizens! Melanie wants an independent life, owing nothing to anyone.

The women’s movement achieved the goals of citizenship and the right to vote in 1920, after World War One. “The Abortionist’s Daughter” takes place before the war, when women were still restricted to traditional roles. However, after a series of setbacks, Melanie makes her way forward in life, traveling to New York City and entering the theater. At the novel’s end, she achieves her goal to be a free, independent human being.



Published:  February 2012
Publisher:  Mad Fashionista Enterprises

In 1910, before her father was convicted of accidentally killing a woman during an illegal abortion, Melanie Daniels was considered the most marriageable girl in her tiny Adirondack village. Now, six years later, the “Killer Doc” has been released from prison and the family are social outcasts. To cope with her fear of ending up an “old maid”, Melanie loses herself inside glamorous motion picture magazines. Until she meets James, a handsome stranger who promises adventure and a chance to leave the stifling small town life behind her. Shortly after they elope to New York, Melanie meets James’s ‘friend’ Gladys Dumbrille, a Broadway actress, and discovers he is not the man he seemed. In an attempt to re-invent herself, Melanie lies her way into Gladys’s new show. Their lives become intertwined in ways neither of them could have expected.

From the backwoods of the Adirondacks to the backstage of Broadway, The Abortionist’s Daughter explores love, sex, work and freedom in the first decade of the 20th century.  Filled with a colorful cast of supporting characters and vivid depictions of social mores, fashion, and family, Elisa DeCarlo tells one woman’s story with intelligence, passion, and wit.


"I want to do something"

Twenty-three year old Melanie Daniels hated how her father's conviction had ruined her life, she blamed him for the townspeople shunning her and how her family went from the upper to the lower tier of society.

Melanie was a romantic, she was waiting to be swept off her feet like the stars she read about in her glossy magazines.  She was a young naive girl living in the Adirondack mountains and when one day she meets handsome, charismatic James, a 'travelling salesman' she feels like her dream has finally come true.

Running away with him to New York she declared that "she didn't care if she never saw another mountain again".  

I loved seeing New York through her eyes, she was in awe of the crowds of people, how the fashions were more daring, shorter skirts and lower necklines, she was stunned by all the bright lights, scared of the elevator and fascinated with the flushing toilet!  But she was also transfixed and loved everything about the city as well.

But Melanie discovers some harsh life lessons too and soon she is all alone and penniless and the lights aren't so bright anymore.  A friend of James, the actress, Gladys Dumbrille comes to Melanie's aid and their paths will cross again throughout the book.

She decides that the theatre stage, like the stars that she looked up to, is where she wants to be and she is determined that she won't fail.......

I enjoyed seeing Melanie change and grow as a person, I liked how she didn't want to conform, she didn't want to go back home to the Adirondacks and just barely scrape a living like her parents.

This is one of my favourite reads of this year, the writing was descriptive and well paced with some memorable characters and a wonderful leading heroine, I enjoyed the behind the scenes at the theatre and the mentions of the celebrities of the day added a realism to the story.  I found it easy to immerse myself in the New York of 1916, a man's world where it seemed that women had all the responsibilities but very little of the fun! 

I was captivated from the start and didn't want it to finish, I wanted to read more about Melanie, to see where life would lead her, and was disappointed when I turned over the last page and saw the words THE END.


About the Author

Elisa DeCarlo has published two previous novels, "The Devil You Say" and "Strong Spirits" (Avon). She also writes a comic blog on fashion and social commentary, "Diary Of A Mad Fashionista" for which she was profiled in The New York Times in 2008. In addition, she has been an actress in theater, television, and film.

ELISA DeCARLO was raised in Westchester County, New York. Her first novel, The Devil You Say (Avon, 1994) won both “Locus Best First Novel” and “Amazing Stories Best First Novel”, and received the CaB Magazine Special Achievement Award. Its prequel, Strong Spirits, was published by Avon in 1995. Her humorous essays have been collected in the 2002 Random House anthology “Life’s A Stitch: The Best of Women’s Contemporary Humor”; Morrow Books “The Best of The New York Times’s Metropolitan Diary”; and Freedom Voices Books “Goddesses We Ain’t”. 
Her greatest love is the theater. She has written numerous award-winning solo shows, including “Toasted,” “I Love Drugs,” and “Size Matters”, which have been produced in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Her show “I Love Drugs” was a Chicago paper’s “Critic’s Choice” in 1994, and “Cervix With a Smile” was a San Francisco Bay Guardian “Critic’s Choice” in 2005. In 2008, the New York Times profiled her in “Personality Plus” about a stage show she developed around her popular humor blog “Diary of a Mad Fashionista”. Elisa’s appeared in the popular soaps “General Hospital”, “All My Children”, and “As the World Turns”. She’s written comic spots for NPR’s All Things Considered and has performed comedy for most of her adult life, either sketch comedy or as a character monologuist. She has also written well-received plays. In 2015 the Exit Press will publish an anthology of her playwriting, I Was Born To Suffer: The Plays of Elisa DeCarlo. Elisa lives in New York with her husband, Jeff, and a fair amount of animals.


I received an ebook from Elisa DeCarlo's publicist in exchange for an honest review and would like to thank Lori Hettler for the chance to read this lovely book.

I hope you get the chance to read it too!

Available from Amazon UK  -  Amazon US

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