Terrible Virtue - Ellen Feldman
In the spirit of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, the provocative and compelling story of one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the twentieth century: Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood—an indomitable woman who, more than any other, and at great personal cost, shaped the sexual landscape we inhabit today.
The daughter of a hard-drinking, smooth-tongued free thinker and a mother worn down by thirteen children, Margaret Sanger vowed her life would be different. Trained as a nurse, she fought for social justice beside labor organizers, anarchists, socialists, and other progressives, eventually channeling her energy to one singular cause: legalizing contraception. It was a battle that would pit her against puritanical, patriarchal lawmakers, send her to prison again and again, force her to flee to England, and ultimately change the lives of women across the country and around the world.
This complex enigmatic revolutionary was at once vain and charismatic, generous and ruthless, sexually impulsive and coolly calculating—a competitive, self-centered woman who championed all women, a conflicted mother who suffered the worst tragedy a parent can experience. From opening the first illegal birth control clinic in America in 1916 through the founding of Planned Parenthood to the arrival of the Pill in the 1960s, Margaret Sanger sacrificed two husbands, three children, and scores of lovers in her fight for sexual equality and freedom.
With cameos by such legendary figures as Emma Goldman, John Reed, Big Bill Haywood, H. G. Wells, and the love of Margaret’s life, Havelock Ellis, this richly imagined portrait of a larger-than-life woman is at once sympathetic to her suffering and unsparing of her faults. Deeply insightful, Terrible Virtue is Margaret Sanger’s story as she herself might have told it.
No woman can call herself free until she can choose when and how often she will become a mother."
I mean, isn't that just a really stunning line? Maybe it's because I'm a mom and I know what it's like to know you are carrying a life inside of you and from that moment knowing you are no longer your own person, I don't know. But I think becoming a mother has shaped my opinion on pro life or pro choice and the older I get the more pro choice I've become. It's not always a popular opinion, but I think if we take away the right for us to choose what happens to our body, we really lose a huge part of our freedom as people. We should be able to make our own choices about our own bodies and live with the consequences or benefits, no matter what.
But I'll get off the soap box now and just tell you that if you at all consider yourself a feminist (and you should, we're a fun group!) this is a really amazing, eye opening, breathtaking read. Even if you aren't fighting for women's reproductive rights but instead just an advocate for choice and freedom in other arenas, I think you are going to love this book and really identify with Margaret. It's about a woman who really sacrificed a lot of her own happiness to ensure personal freedom and liberties in so many women throughout her lifetime. Yes, it's a fictional book but the story is so dead on and relevant to what is happening in our country (and world, really) that I hope so many women pick this book up and maybe leave the book with a new thought or two. It is so incredibly well written and I was so moved. I cannot praise this book enough and I have no idea how this book is getting less than 4 or 5 stars anywhere.
You can find Terrible Virtue on Amazon and Barnes & Noble but I also encourage you to check out Ellen Feldman's website for more information about the book.