Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.
Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”
But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.
Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.
Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.
This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.
Evelina's intriguing account of Victoria Woodhull spiritualist, suffragette, stockbroker, and politician deftly extols the many "firsts" of this 19th-century feminist trailblazer. Born dirt-poor in 1838, Victoria has clairvoyant visions that begin in childhood, which prompt her father to use her cruelly in his fraudulent spiritualist schemes. To escape, at age 15 Victoria marries Canning Woodhull, an alcoholic, morphine addict, and womanizer. In 1864, Victoria and her two children leave Canning and settle in St. Louis, where she works as a clairvoyant. There she marries James Blood, a Civil War colonel. Victoria parlays her inside knowledge of the stock market, gleaned from brothel workers, to become rich. She then uses her wealth to advocate publicly for women's issues, drawing from her own experiences. She joins the suffragettes, opens the first woman-owned Wall Street brokerage office, starts a newspaper, advocates for "free love," and, in 1872, runs as the first woman candidate for U.S. president. Gossip, rumors, tabloid slurs, family betrayal, jail, and abandonment by allies follow Victoria as she becomes a rising star in the labor, suffrage, and marital reform movements. Evelina moves assuredly through the many layers of Victoria's colorful life; such potent issues as family torment, marital abuse, and female subjugation all are linked in this dramatic story of struggle. (BookLife)
Great treatment of a great subject.
This engaging and enjoyable historical novel has all the merits of reading history as well as fiction. The author’s Afterword tells where she fictionalized and where she condensed the narrative, enabling the reader to keep proper perspective. Victoria Woodhull’s story should be known to modern readers, and her place in American history be reclaimed.