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The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisa DeCarlo: A Book Review

The Abortionist’s Daughter
Author: Elisa DeCarlo
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Mad Fashionista Enterprises
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 337
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: It’s 1916 and Melanie Daniels, the prettiest girl in Mullers Corners, New York, and daughter of the town’s doctor, dreams of making a brilliant marriage. But scandal has doomed her dreams. Six years ago a woman died while receiving an abortion from Melanie’s father, and now that “the killer doc” is back from prison, Mullers Corners won’t forgive and won’t let Melanie forget her family’s disgrace. 

     Angry at both her father and the town, Melanie is easily swayed by a charming stranger who arouses mysterious new feelings in her and begs her to run away with him to New York City. Neither the stranger nor her life in the big city turn out to be what Melanie expects, and soon the twists of fate lead her into a new life in the less-than-respectable world of the theater--and a new understanding of her own womanhood and her father’s crime. Filled with vivid scenes of backstage life and fascinating vignettes of long-ago society, fashion, and mores, The Abortionist’s Daughter explores the challenges of being a woman in early 20th century America with drama, passion, and wit. 

     My review: Because of her father’s crime as an abortionist doctor, Melanie is the town outcast. Everyone shuns her and makes fun of her. However, when she meets an older man who comes into the town. Melanie is intrigued by him because he respects her and does not shun her for her father’s crime. She then runs away with him to New York City in hopes to elope with him. One day when he abandons her, she is forced to go back home where the town’s hatred of her deepens and she is treated even more harshly. In order to get rid of the stigma of her father’s crime and her own mistakes, Melanie vows to be a famous actress in New York City.

     Melanie is at first very naive. She has low self-esteem because everyone judges her for her father’s crime and bullies her. She wants to be seen as an equal, and wants a person to love her for who she is. Because of this desire, she easily falls in love with a stranger because he seems to respect her and not judge her. She is very intelligent and observant for she notices the lies that the stranger tells her. She is also very ambitious for she dreams to become a famous actress so she can finally start her life anew and people could finally admire and respect her. Her ambition drives her determination for she never gives up on her dream no matter her hardships.

     While the premise is interesting, I did not find it executed very well. I found the book to be very boring and the story very dragged out. I felt that the novel could have easily been condensed at least a hundred pages. Melanie’s relationship with the stranger covered half the book, and I lost interest by the time I reached the story of Melanie trying to be an actress. I read it till the end hoping that soon I would end up liking the book, but even the last third of the story could not redeem the story itself for me.

        Overall, this story is about a woman who is searching for her own identity. The message of the book is to not give up no matter how hard it seems. The story is not really well-executed. Melanie is the only character that is well-rounded. I did like her mother, for she is so tough that she is definitely not someone to get on her bad side. However, the rest of the characters are cardboard-cutouts. The characters are just there, there is very little character-development. I did find the setting to be well-developed and I feel that the author had done her research on the era of the topic. She did a great job of bringing to life twentieth century New York City. I recommend this story to anyone interested in theater history.

Rating: 2½ out of stars

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