Terrible Virtue
3.45/5 by 597 users

Terrible Virtue


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.

Title:Terrible Virtue
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:272 pages

    Terrible Virtue Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    Feb 03, 2016

    (DNF @ 25%) Another case of expectations too high and payoff too little. Fictionalized biographies can be among my favorite historical fiction, but the key is that they have to do something that a bio...

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Jan 13, 2016

    "No woman can call herself free until she can choose when and how often she will become a mother." Margaret Sanger played an essential role in establishing access to birth control for women in the Un...

  • Karen
    May 28, 2016

    Margaret Sanger had a rough childhood; born in 1879, as one of eleven children. Her miserable mother and drunk father had little to share amongst their many children. The older girls escaped as quickl...

  • Jennifer S. Brown
    Nov 02, 2016

    While I knew of Margaret Sanger, I didn't know many of the details of her life. This book brings Sanger to life, showing her drive and her passion. It covers her entire life, yet I never felt like it ...

  • Sarah Beth
    Feb 13, 2016

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins. Told in the first person, this novel follows the life of Margaret Sanger, who worked tirelessly throughout the early twentieth ce...

  • Holly Weiss
    Mar 01, 2016

    Two words describe Ellen Feldman’s historical fiction novel about Margaret Sanger: Relevant and controversial. Margaret Sanger fought a fight for the good of downtrodden women, all the while leading...

  • Jessica
    Oct 23, 2016

    Get to know Margaret SangerI've long enjoyed the historical legacies of Margaret Sanger, and I bet you have, too - but you may not have known it. She came of age many years before women even won the r...

  • Rebecca
    Nov 19, 2016

    An interesting fictional account of the life of Margaret Sanger. A controversial woman who had ideas about women having control over their bodies. She is the mother of birth control. Her life was one ...

  • Annie
    Jan 30, 2016

    Terrible Virtue, by Ellen Feldman, is one of the most directly relevant pieces of historical fiction I’ve read in a long time. I can usually find connections between the news and what I’ve been re...

  • Andrea
    Nov 23, 2015

    Margaret Sanger has influenced the lives of millions of women. Most of us know the name, but possibly little else. Ellen Feldman recreates Sanger's life and times in a fictionalized biography that sho...