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Naked Truth or Equality, the Forbidden Fruit
Carrie M. Hayes. HTPH, $14.99 trade paper (322p) ISBN 978-0-578-22910-2
Manipulation, ambition, and seduction rule the day in Hayes’s mischievous debut. In 1868 New York City, sisters Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Woodhull work as clairvoyants for rich patrons. Ditching their abusive husbands, the sisters embark on a carefully orchestrated plan to seduce their way into places of power. Tennessee wants to quit spiritualism and take up investing, and so she hitches herself first to Cornelius Vanderbilt and then to New York Herald publisher James Gorden Bennett Jr. Victoria joins the suffragette movement, starts a newspaper, and declares herself a candidate for president of the United States. The sisters are involved in some of the era’s biggest events, such as the 1869 Black Friday gold scandal, the passage of the 15th Amendment, and a libel case involving Henry Ward Beecher, whose sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Tennessee clashes with over Harriet’s decision to have her daughter circumcised. Hayes’s candid romp meticulously underscores the women’s struggles for political power, self-determination, and control over their money. Appearances by many historical figures dovetail with the indomitable sisters’ fictional escapades. Readers will devour the twists, intrigue, triumphs, and occasional failures of Hayes’s spirited sisters. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 12/11/2020

Release date 03/01/2020