Download The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt Audiobook

The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt Audiobook, by Audrey Clare Farley Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Audrey Clare Farley Narrator: Lisa Flanagan Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2021 ISBN: 9781549186530
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The Unfit Heiress is a page-turning drama of fortunes, eugenics, and women’s reproductive rights, framed by the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother.

At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside of the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain “over-sexed” women could destroy civilization, if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, The Unfit Heiress chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon.

In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her “promiscuous” daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father’s estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come.

This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be “unfit” for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This book [recalls] the high stakes and terrible history of the longstanding fight for control over women’s bodies.”

    Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author

  • “The fascinating and unsettling case—and the worldwide media sensation it caused—is carefully revisited to expose what it meant to be considered an unfit parent and how easily family can become foes.”

    Town & Country

  • “Farley sets a brisk pace and persuasively reimagines the dynamic between Ann and Maryon. This is an eye-opening portrait of an obscure yet fascinating case.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Shocking…a disturbing yet thought-provoking tale of family strife and ethically unsound medical practice.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A disturbing yet thought-provoking tale.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Narrator

Lisa Flanagan is a classically trained soprano, comedian, voice-over artist, and Earphones Award–winning narrator.