Acquired Books By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret Life of Mrs London” direct from the author Rebecca Rosenberg in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I was interested in the premise behind this novel:
My first entrance into Biological Historical Fiction was prior to becoming a book blogger – it was when I read the back-story about Mrs (Charles) Dickens in the beautifully conceived novel Girl in a Blue Dress. At the time, I was mesmorised by how realistically the story-line flowed and how wonderfully intricate the novel revealled the finer points of how Mrs Dickens had much more to give than what she personally felt she had in self-worth. Another critical entry in this section of Literature for me was Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald of which I had the happenstance to read as an ARC – the narrative clarity of Zelda’s voice inside this novel was incredibly layered! I still think about my readings of this novel – as I spread it out over several months, savouring the respite I had outside it but hungry for more insight into Zelda’s life all the same. It is a haunting account truly of one woman’ spiral and her journey back to ‘self’ out of the chaos of health issues which were never fully addressed until the very last chapter of her life. It’s beyond tragic how Zelda never felt she realised her own artistic merit in the literary world and how suppressed she had become as a writer due to her overbearing husband whose ego would not allow him to admit her writerly strength of voice.
Over the past four and a half years, I’ve encountered quite a large number of entries of Biological Historical Fiction – each in turn giving me such an incredibly humbling experience as I held close to the whispers of truth etching out of the lives by the living persons who had lived these lives I was now attached to through the renditions the writers had given them in their novels. When I read the premise about Mrs London and how her life intersected with the Houdini’s – there was a moment in my mind as I contemplated the plot itself wherein I felt I heard an echo of Zelda’s life. Of two women who were caught inside a marriage which was not the healthiest of relationships for them nor was it a marriage built on love or trust. They were each caught into a cycle of living which worked against them and in part, this is why I wanted to read Mrs London’s story. I wanted to know how she worked through the anguish of living in Jack’s shadow but also, how she dealt with the absence of having a husband who appreciated her and held her interests in his own heart.
In regards to Jack London – although I have an omnibus of his stories (in hardback) which my family gave me as young girl, there was something about his stories which put me off reading them. I could say the same about Dickens, too. When it came to disappearing inside either of their stories a part of me ‘held back’ interest despite the fact they both had concepts of stories I felt I would have loved reading. And, in turn, I came to know them better through their film adaptations than I did in their original canon of release! Uniquely enough. The two which stood out to me were White Fang and A Christmas Carol – which of course, remain two my favourite films of all time. The latter of which I consistently seek out as they re-invent the wheel every so many years in how to properly explore the story & the message within it.
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.
Places to find the book:
Published by Lake Union Publishing
on 30th January, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
In retrospect, after re-reading my review, I realised I needed to add the flames to this review, as I felt the sensuality and sexuality explored in the story was on the higher end of what I am comfortable about finding in either Romance or Historical Romance novels. I also felt in this story, the subject was threaded throughout the context of the novel and re-highlighted to the point where it nearly felt like it was the main focus of the story rather than on the dynamics of the who the characters were outside their boudoir exploits.
Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
Converse via: #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction + #JackLondon
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: