Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga Volume One Rise to Riches by Neal Katz is a historical fiction book that follows the early life of Victoria Woodhull. In order to see and understand where she ends up, the story begins in her poor home with one too many children to feed and an abusive father. Firstly, this is a book for adults. The first chapter opens with Victoria’s father abusing her only to be followed by her being whipped in the second chapter. This is not a novel for the faint of heart. As a reader, I understand that this tragic and horrible background helps motivate her to escape and create a new life, but, as a person, I was rather troubled and, at times, distressed. There were moments I was cringing and waiting for her life to get better in the coming pages.
In regards to Katz’s writing style, there were a few characteristics I would have liked to see him expand upon. Since Victoria’s persuasive tone and ability to speak well are large elements of her personality, I would have liked to see those talents develop. In chapter two, Speakin’, Katz cited a scene in which Victoria was telling stories to the local children while their parents were busy; “I used my big, blue eyes to help me tell the stories. I already knew that I could make people listen by changing the tone or volume of my voice. The children sat in silent rapture, all participating in the deception.” I think this is a very well written section, but, given the nature of her upbringing and future depending on her persuasive nature, it would have been nice to see more in this scene. For instance, Victoria saw the children drifting off and needed to do something new to captivate them, such as using varying voices for different characters.
To be honest, it was hard for me to read Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga Volume One Rise to Riches. Victoria had a really tough life. She went from one bad situation to another. This may be a sign of good writing, my being so disturbed. I do want to stress that this novel is fiction. After this book crossed my path, I did a little more research on Victoria Woodhull. Katz utilized several rumors surrounding her life as the foundation for his novel. There is no evidence that she was a “working girl” or believed in marriage for monetary gain. Other subjects are true, such as Dr. Woodhull’s alcoholism and womanizing. Katz blended some historical records with his imagination to create this novel.