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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Read With Me: The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
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.

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Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel “One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry

About the Author

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel. Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children's Home. For more information, please visit Rebecca's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

My Review of The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a fabulous read and lingered long after I closed the back cover. From the opening scenes of Charmian and Jack sparring in the boxing ring, it keeps me turning the pages. From intriguing political debates, to their writing life, Jack and Charmian London’s friendship with Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess, plus their love triangle is told through a lot of delicious details.

Even though I am a long-time admirer of Jack London’s work, I haven’t read anything before about Jack or his wife, Charmian. And as the title of the novel suggests, the character I am most interested in is Charmian. Her education, spirit, and literary pursuits in the early 1900’s must have seemed daunting. Inspiring. Both Jack and Charmain are big personalities and colorful people full of as much magic as a Houdini act. But this is the heart of their conflicts too.

Charmian’s tale weaves it’s way around and beside Jack’s, and Charmian does achieve success as a writer of her own material. Some of that success she achieves is in the later part of the story, and who better than Charmian to put on the boxing gloves again, so to speak, and fight for the right to write the biography of Jack.

Some of the delicious details are related to food and this is no surprise because Rebecca also is the director of Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at risk children, in California. 

Please visit the C'est si Bon! Cooking School's website for Hawaiian Sweet Potato and Papaya Salad, a recipe reminiscent of the London's time spent in Hawaii.  

Here’s a description of Thanksgiving at Jack and Charmian’s Beauty Ranch.

“Dinner is served, everyone.” I hold my hand out to Bessie. “Follow me.” Nakata opens the heavy wood doors to the dining room, and our guests reel back and gasp. I myself can’t believe the sight. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.” Bessie flutter claps. “It’s a fairy tale.” Garlands of colorful leaves festoon the stone walls, lined with French wine barrels. Our long table, hewn from a giant redwood, stretches twenty feet into the far side of the room. Down the middle, beeswax candles in wine bottles illuminate plump, round pumpkins; gnarled gourds; and Indian corn speckled scarlet and gold. Woven palm place mats set with pewter plates and utensils flank the sides of the table, replete with four different wineglasses for Buena Vista sparkling wine, Kunde Gew├╝rztraminer and Cabernet, and our own late-harvest Riesling. Jack says we can never have too many wine glasses.”
I hope you’ll agree that just as you can never have too many wine glasses, you can never have too many good books, and one of those surely is “The Secret Life of Mrs. London.”  

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, January 30 Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, January 31 Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, February 1 Guest Post at Let Them Read Books Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, February 2 Review at View from the Birdhouse Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, February 5 Review at Creating Herstory

Tuesday, February 6 Review at Planting Cabbages

Wednesday, February 7 Review at A Bookish Affair

Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, February 8 Interview at Planting Cabbages

Friday, February 9 Review at Bookish

Sunday, February 11 Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, February 12 Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, February 13 Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Wednesday, February 14 Review at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, February 15 Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, February 16 Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Monday, February 19 Review at Reading the Past

Tuesday, February 20 Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, February 23 Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, February 26 Review at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, February 27 Guest Post at My Reading Corner

Wednesday, February 28 Review & Giveaway at Suzy Approved Book Reviews

Thursday, March 1 Review at What Cathy Read Next

Friday, March 2 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, March 5 Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Tuesday, March 6 Review at Bookish Beck

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