Genre: Historical Fiction
San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.
Review: I have to admit to not knowing much about the lives of Jack and Charmain London--which may have been an asset in reading this book. It meant that I could simply enjoy it as a work of fiction, without being too concerned about how accurately it portrayed their lives.
I found myself fascinated by the relationship between the Londons and the Houdinis as presented in this story. While Charmain seemed to find Houdini so very different to Jack, I thought they were remarkably similar--they both treated their wives badly while giving much more attention to other women, they both appeared to be very ego-driven and self-centered. Meanwhile, Charmain and Bessie, for the most part, accepted the men as they were and stayed in their marriages BECAUSE of who the men were, in my opinion.
This book is very well written and gives a great look into the literary/celebrity world during the WWI era. As a first novel, it's a roaring success, and I look forward to future efforts from this author.
Rating: Four stars
About The Author
California native Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where she and her husband founded the largest lavender product company in America, Sonoma Lavender. A long-time student of Jack London’s work and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian, Rosenberg is a graduate of the Stanford Writing Certificate Program. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is her first novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA.
Rebecca Rosenberg’s next historical novel is GOLD DIGGER the story of BABY DOE TABOR.