Best-selling author Kate Manning will make a special appearance at the Rowayton Library on Wednesday, November 20, at 7:00 pm for a book talk and reception. Manning will discuss her latest novel, My Notorious Life. The critically acclaimed book, what reviewers have called a historical novel of Dickensian sprawl, is about a midwife in late 19th century New York City. It’s the story of Axie Muldoon, a child of poor Irish immigrants who works her way off the streets to become one of the most successful—and scandalous—women of her time.
Manning’s novel is loosely based on the life of a real 19th-century midwife in New York named Ann Lohman. After arriving from England in the 1830s, Lohman began selling women’s medicines and performing abortions. Though largely unremembered today, the story of her career and trial is a sensational tale. In her book, Manning takes a number of creative liberties with the details of Lohman’s life (including changing her name) and in the process dramatizes one of the most contentious abortion debates American history.
Manning has deep ties to Fairfield County. Her family moved to Darien when she was in sixth grade. She attended Middlesex School and Darien High School for one year before her father was transferred for work. She taught sailing at the Darien Y and was a reporter-intern at the Stamford Advocate. Manning’s parents returned to the area when she graduated college in 1979; they bought a house on Wilson Point near Rowayton. When Manning had her own children, she and her husband also bought a house on Wilson Point. Today, they spend as much time as they can there when they’re not at their residence in New York City. This family of sailors keeps their boat at Norwalk Yacht Club.
Manning, whose family moved around a good deal when she was young because of her father’s work, has a great fondness for Wilson Point. “For a person who grew up not exactly having a home town, this one extraordinary spot is home base for me. The Wilson Point community is very close-knit with a very rare neighborhood camaraderie.”
A former documentary producer for public television, Manning has won two New York Emmy Awards and has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Glamour, and More magazines. Her first novel, Whitegirl, was published in 2002. Manning also has taught creative writing at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan.