NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2021 BY THE NEW YORK POST AND BOOK RIOT
NAMED A BEST TRUE CRIME BOOK OF 2021 BY CRIMEREADS
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, “a sensational story told with nuance and humanity” (Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author) about the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother.
At the turn of the twentieth century, emboldened American women began to seek passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared “over-sexed” women could destroy civilization, either by crossing the color line or passing their evident defects on to their children. Set against this backdrop, The Unfit Heiress chronicles the fight for inheritance between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother Maryon, who had her daughter sterilized without her knowledge. A sensational court case ensued, and powerful eugenicists 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 on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be “unfit” for motherhood? How do racial anxieties continue to influence who does and does not reproduce? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive those who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?