I was asked to review this for the blog tour, but I am also a big reader of historical fiction–especially books like this that imagine the life of a famous person or couple. If you read this blog regularly, you know I’ve enjoyed books of this sort on Hemmingway, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many others over the years.
Jack and Charmian London on the beach in Hawaii, 1915 source
Novelist Jack London and his second wife, Charmain, lead an eccentric life in Sonoma County, California. At a performance one night, Jack enocourages Charmain to accept magician Harry Houdini’s invitation to come up on stage with him. Charmain is so attracted to Harry that they begin an affair.
Harry Houdini source
The author has vividly imagined the principal characters and given them life in a way that I found engaging. I knew nothing about Jack London or Harry Houdini beyond their professional reputation. I had no idea about either man’s private life, non-professional interests of opinions. Rosenberg ably filled in the blanks for me.
The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg
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.
Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London
“An impressively original and exceptionally well-crafted novel by an author who is a master of character- and narrative-driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg’s The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader-engaging story from beginning to end and feature[es] many an unexpected plot twist and turn.” —Midwest Book Review
“Interesting, and based on the actual lives of the participants…Learning more about Jack London was enjoyable, as well as seeing early feminist examples.” —Historical Novel Society
“…Rosenberg paints an immensely intriguing portrait of a marriage and tells it in an accomplished lyrical prose that captures each moment with poetic intensity.” —Prairies Book Review
“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the marriage of Jack and Charmian London, both fascinating and complicated characters with rich inner lives that Rosenberg conveys in crisp yet poetic prose. This contemporary historical fiction raises questions that are still relevant today about what makes a good marriage, and whether creativity and stability are incompatible. A rich, resonant, deeply satisfying novel sure to delight and leave readers thinking long after they put it down.” —Malena Watrous, author of If You Follow Me and Sparked!, and director of the Stanford Continuing Studies Program in Novel Writing
“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
|Rebecca Rosenberg receiving the IPPY Gold Medal|
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.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 2
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Tuesday, September 3
Review at Melissa Reads
Wednesday, September 4
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Thursday, September 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, September 10
Review at Diana_bibliophile
Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at I’m All About Books
Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Tuesday, September 17
Review at Hooked on Books
Wednesday, September 18
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Friday, September 20
Review at Orange County Readers
Monday, September 23
Review at Jathan & Heather
Wednesday, September 25
Review at Red Headed Book Lady
Thursday, September 26
Review, Q&A, & Excerpt at Nursebookie
Friday, September 27
Review at Macsbooks
Monday, September 30
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, October 2
Review at gatticus_finch
Saturday, October 5
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, October 7
Review at rebecca.is.reading
Wednesday, October 9
Review at This Biblio Life
Thursday, October 10
Review at Peaceful Pastime
Friday, October 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life
Saturday, October 12
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Monday, October 14
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 signed paperbacks + swag and 7 eBooks! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.