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Extended Audio Sample Terrible Virtue: A Novel, by Ellen Feldman Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ellen Feldman Narrator: Kate Udal Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A woman who knew too well the hard choice between work and family. An irresistible and utterly timely novel.”

    Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Captivating, powerful, headlong, and inventive—just like its subject. A beautifully wrought, compulsively readable novel.”

    Stacy Schiff, New York Times bestselling author

  • “[A] highly topical novelization of the life of Margaret Sanger…We need her story now more than ever.”


  • “Feldman compellingly portrays the difficult choices confronting women living in a man’s world…This immersive, moving, and thought-provoking book is worthy of the intense discussions it’s sure to spark.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Feldman draws on extensive research to tackle with aplomb the difficult task of writing a novel about a woman whose life is well known and whose story remains controversial decades after her death…An excellent choice for book groups.”

    Library Journal

  • “Cameo appearances by the great names of Sanger’s time add notes of gossipy interest for the historically aware reader while placing the events of the novel in a broader social context…Offers much to contemporary readers living through current culture wars.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Kate Udall does a fine job channeling Margaret Sanger’s ferocity in this intriguing novel…It’s a rousing story that Udall voices well…The American reformer had a take-no-prisoners personality, which Udall articulates beautifully in this interesting and worthwhile reading.”


  • “A fascinating exploration of Margaret Sanger as a visionary tour de force who left a stream of public victories and private casualties in her wake. Birth control, sex, family, work, individual need, free love, the greater good—it’s all here, historically grounded but as relevant today as it was then.”

    Elizabeth Graver, author of The End of the Point

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