The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London

by Rebecca Rosenberg


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781542048736
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Pages: 348
Sales rank: 314,260
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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 own and operate the largest lavender-product company in America. A longtime 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.

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The Secret Life of Mrs. London 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
MaraBlaise More than 1 year ago
I instantly knew that I wanted to read The Secret Life of Mrs. London from the moment I read the blurb. I just love reading historical fiction about famous persons and I was intrigued by the prospect of reading a book about Jack London, a man that I didn't know much about. Also, the addition of Harry Houdini to the story made my eagerness to read this book even greater. I've actually been putting off writing this review, you know waiting for the right moment because I was so taken with the story that I needed some breathing pause to be levelheaded to write a review that is just me rambling. To be honest, I'm not sure it helped, but anyway, here we go! The Secret Life of Mrs. London is about Jack London's wife Charmain London and in this story we get to follow Charmain story through a period in life when everything around her changes. Her marriage isn't the easiest and although Jack loves Charmain do one really get a feeling that she is there to take care of Jack businesses, from his writing to the dream house that he's building. Her own ambition, her own writing is something that she has to just dream about. The Harry Houdini sweeps into her life... As much as I liked Jack in this book can't I help, but frankly adore Harry Houdini. The attraction between him and Charmain is palpable. It helps that the writing is top-notch that the characters are so alive, so well-developed that I breathlessly turned every page with the desire to know what happens next, but at the same time didn't I want the story to end. Yes, I'm gushing, but seriously, this is one book I could easily read again and nowadays I don't have time to re-read books. Another character I came to like very much is Bess Houdini, she shows up in the book now and then, and just like her famous husband has Bess a strong and vibrant personality. I quite liked her interaction with Charmine. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is one of the best books I have ever read. It's a story I will never forget and I can't wait to see what Rebecca Rosenberg will write next.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
Rebecca Rosenberg does an excellent job of fleshing out the back stories and quirks that made Jack London, Houdini, and Charmian London such interesting and charismatic public figures in an age of giant personalities. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a very well written slice into the early to mid-20th century in the United States. The geography, social stratas and mindsets are authentic, as are the publicly accepted views of the London's and the Houdini's. this is a period novel that is very hard to put down, and a look into the society of that time I found both interesting and important. The Golden Age brought us many larger-than-life luminaries in a time when we needed heroes to distract and encourage us to keep moving through the trying days of world wars and injustices and economic collapse. Without the distraction of both the personalities and the works of those heros, more of us would have fallen by the wayside. This novel covers - very well - the driving forces behind three of those mythical beings we saw only in golden silhouette. Ms. Rosenberg takes us into the grit behind these celebrated personages without destroying the spirit that made them our heroes. My father was, while in his cups, able to quote whole segments of Jack London novels and as a child I tackled several of his works - those about dogs and sea creatures - when I ran out of Uncle Buddy's Zane Grey novels. In my thirties I re-read bits and pieces of London works to my little rug rats, and re-read a few of my own childhood favorites. Pushing 70, this novel has me anxious to start the cycle over again. I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel based on fact from Netgalley, Rebecca Rosenberg, and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
Charmian London took care of Jack London, typing as he dictated, editing his work, catering to his need for constant attention from “the crowd,” and picking up the pieces of his alcoholic binges. Products of their time, the Londons settled into a routine where Charmian sacrificed her life to Jack’s success, much as her friend Bessie Houdini did for her husband. Although Jack’s dalliances are often referenced, Charmian and Houdini’s affair is only hinted at throughout the story, before being stated outright only after Jack’s death. Small contradictions in this book had me going back for clarity so many times that I stopped keeping track of them, accepting them as a minor annoyance of the writing. The story begins well after the London’s greatest adventures, a shame, since they’re referred to so much that I really wanted to read about them. I know this is considered historical fiction, but I researched as I read, and everything I found agreed with Rosenberg’s version, including Bessie’s condition, which prevented her having children. The writing didn’t flow well for me, as I was more interested in things other than all the titillating details of adultery. Near the end, two events stood out that distracted me from the story. When Houdini tends to Charmian after she’s drenched in the rain, he “lifts” her magically from the bed. We all know the floating woman is a trick, so this seemed superfluously silly in this scene. Later, after Bessie acknowledges the affair of her husband and best friend, grants her acceptance of it to Charmian, and shows her friend her secret room of dolls, she passes out and stops breathing. Charmian brings her back to life by calling her name and touching her face. Although the book was nearly over, I almost stopped reading here. I received this book through NetGalley for an honest review. I enjoyed reading about Charmian London, but the secret life of her affair with Houdini was more melodramatic than intriguing. Still, it was interesting to learn more about the Londons and the Houdinis in general, and it sparked my interest enough to do a bit more research as I read.
Rhonda-Runner1 More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Jack and Charmian London are both authors who are living the good life in San Francisco in 1915. Charmian has put her career on hold to support Jack's career. He dictates his books while she transcribes them on the typewriter and then does all of his editing. They seem to have a very strange marriage with Jack being more interested in his writing than being a husband to Charmian. One night, they go to a Harry Houdini show and Harry calls Charmian to come up onto stage to help with a stunt. There seems to be a strong attraction between them that makes things very interesting. Harry's wife, Bessie, is a strange, quirky character which adds to the story. If you like a good historical fiction book, this will not disappoint you.
mweinreich More than 1 year ago
4 "engaging" stars Charmain is the second wife of author Jack London. She was a believer in free love, socialism, a woman's right to vote, and her husband Jack. It is the turn of the century, a time when the Victorian Age was winding down. Social and sexual mores were changing. It was the time before the free reeling lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest and Hadley Hemmingway became the alt culture of their day. Although in reading this book, I could not help thinking that the Londons would have fit right in with those other two couples. Charmain was also an author, of course not as well known as Jack, who seemed to, in this book while away his life drinking, sleeping around, and spending money he did not have. However, Charmain is completely enamored of him although she did have one indiscretion. It will soon be followed by another with a very popular magician. Charmin had taken Jack away from his first wife, having been a friend and neighbor to the Londons, and we later learn after she befriends Bessie Houdini, that she will have an affair with Harry. Bess Houdini is a pathetic person. She suffers from never going through puberty, having a period, nor developing breasts. She can't have a child so instead she herself is a child who has a collection of dolls that she babies and cares for. Harry Houdini seems to love Bessie but it was not a marriage that afforded any sexual relations possible between them. Charmain was everything to Jack. She was his typist, his editor, his agent and his mantra of writing a thousand words a day produced short stories, novels, and poems. Jack died young due to problems brought on by his lifestyle of smoking and drinking. There was even some talk that Jack committed suicide brought on by an overdose of heroin which he had because of the intense pain suffered with kidney stones. This was a sad love story. Charmain wanted nothing but for Jack to love only her but Jack was not a man who was able to do that. After Jack's death, Charmain had affairs not only with Houdini but many others as well. Charmain was quite discreet in her numerous encounters, never remarrying and died at the age of eighty three. Not knowing too much about Jack London other than that he wrote adventure books, I found this novel to be quite informative. It was an interesting look at an author, who was seen as one of the first world wide celebrities, and his wife. I think Ms Rosenberg did a fine job of ferreting out the relationship between Jack and Charmain and providing the reader with an informative look into their life together.
grandmareads102 6 months ago
Charmian is Jack London's second wife. He broke up his family to marry her. Their relationship is complicated. She's more than his wife. She becomes his typist, editor and manager. She knows that he betrays her with other women, but she continues to love and protect him. Charmian is an amazing woman. She's a talented author but her work with Jack doesn't allow her to grow. I enjoyed The Secret Life of Mrs London. It's a compelling story. Even after Jack London's death, she protects his image and his work. Her involvement with Harry Houdini who is Jack's opposite gave her love and tenderness she needed. However, he was married and Bess was her friend. Her story amazed and intrigued me. What drew these talented men to Charmian? She was a force of nature. Watching how she changed throughout the book touched me. Rebecca Rosenberg pulled me in to the world of a literary genius, a death defying magician and the woman they both loved.
Storywraps 7 months ago
I love historical novels. You are not only entertained but you learn so much about that particular time period. The setting starts out in San Francisco, 1915, just as the world is descending into war. Charmain and her novelist husband Jack London are a very co-dependent couple. Their marriage is full of passion, politics of the time, rival talents and trying to keep trust and faith in each other. Charmain, an author in her own right, is fundamental in recording Jack's brilliant thoughts and ideas and editing the work that he presents to her. She does however feel rather cheated because she yearns to be recognized as an equal partner in his endeavours... but alas, she discovers that it is all about Jack. Charmain encounters the legendary and handsome escape artist Harry Houdini at one of his magic shows. He too is experiencing difficulty in his own complicated marriage. Charmain sees the attention that Harry is showering on her as an opportunity to explore greener pastures via a relationship and perhaps then she will experience the kind of love and compassion she has been longing for. She finds herself torn between two very powerful icons of the time and somehow she must decide what is best for her as she moves forward with her life. In doing so will she lose everything and end up brokenhearted and alone? This book is very well written and 90% based on fact. Once I started reading it I couldn't stop. I love how the author portrayed Houdini and how romantic he was towards Charmain, always a gentleman and very caring. He was unlike her husband whose top priority it seems was .... Jack. This two-tiered love story will remain in your heart long after the last page has been read and the book has been closed. I highly recommend this book.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
I have been a historical fiction fan forever and was intrigued by The Secret Life of Mrs. London. Jack London was an unknown to me. I am not familiar with his writing, his life, or anything else about him. It was interesting to learn about him in a fiction book, but still walk away with facts about his life. He was not overly likable, the way he treated those close to him was not something that I could understand. He was entirely into himself, his needs, and the way he wanted those in the public to perceive him. I struggled with his decisions and his actions but they played a huge part of the story of Houdini and Charmian (Mrs. London). Houdini is someone I am familiar with. He has always intrigued me. I love magic and risks he took while entertaining crowds has always interested me. The author, Rebecca Rosenberg, did an amazing job of describing his shows, from the things he wore to the tricks her did I could picture them as I was reading. The relationship with his wife, Bessie, was sweet. There is no doubt he loved her but there was more to their relationship. Charmian is not your typical wife. She is wife to an eccentric writer who is very demanding of her while not always giving her what she needs. Her devotion to Jack London was unrequited. I wanted her to be stronger, stand up to him, demand he give her the attention she needed. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an amazing historical fiction story that I would recommend picking up.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
“The truth changes with how you perceive it” “The magic is in the memory” This is fiction set in history. This is history seen in a fictional format. Charmaine Kitteridge London was author Jack London’s second wife, his muse, his secretary, his editor, his love. And she, brought up in a household of “free love”, doted and depended on him, ran his household with help from his sister Eliza, reigned him in when she could, popped his grandiose dream filled alcoholic rattled bubbles, fought for what was and mourned what could be. This is a fictional review of the last of their lives together from 1915-1917, and a look forward for this strong woman. Throughout the whole book, we see a series of illusions: Jack London the wealthy adventurer maintained over the realities of Jack London, the alcoholic,uremic old-before-his-time man. Charmaine, the daughter of free love, brought up Bohemian but choosing the helpmeet role, defending her Jack through numerous infidelities, making his deadlines even after his death,a co-defendant wife. Eric Weiss:aka Harry Houdini; enigmatic. mysterious , some might say thrill seeking; who is loyal to his wife and his country while dallying with others’ minds and hearts in a magical way. And Bessie (Weiss) Houdini: a woman who never grew up, but much like Charmaine, defends her home and family with the wisdom of a woman far beyond her years while seeking alternatives in her own illusions of dolls, maintaining separateness from Houdini, and telling fantastic stories that these days, might even have made her a highly sought dystopian author. Some VIP once told me that Magic is a change of perception and that’s why we all have it within us. The question then becomes what IS reality and, in turn, what IS illusion. This is a highly readable and recommended book. 5/5 [disclaimer: I received this book through the GoodReads Giveaway program but in no way has that affected my review, which is honest and solely my own views]
ReadingwithErin More than 1 year ago
Thank you to the author and Netgalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review. In the Secret Life of Mrs.London follows Charmian London and her husband Jack London from 1915-1917. Charmian is someone I found myself loving in one instant and then being completely annoyed with in the next. She's Jack's wife and muse and because of this has lost herself throughout there marriage. She's fully focused on him and making sure he stays successful, but she also has dreams of her own to become a writer. Charmian is also a boxer, horseback rider, and an excellent piano player. Jack is, of course, the world-famous writer and now a farm owner as well. Overall I did enjoy this book, but I also could have done without a lot of the things in this book. First I think we need to say that I've never read either of there books before. I had only ever heard of Jack London as well and didn't even know he had a wife until this book. So many times throughout this book I found myself being absolutely annoyed/disgusted with Jack. The way he treats so many of the people around him was so frustrating to me, especially when it came to his children and how he just acted like they didn't matter. Which if that's the case then don't be around them. As for Charmian, I found myself being frustrated with her as well because one moment she was all Jack is everything to me, and then the next she was lusting after someone else. Besides that though I really did enjoy seeing things through her eyes. All the adventures that she and Jack went on and how she was working on multiple different things at once and dealing with Jack's mood swings was fascinating to me. I also really loved how she treated the help kindly, and was grateful for them and all that they did for her and Jack. The author does an amazing job of transporting us back to early 1900's and I couldn't get enough of it. I could have done without a lot of the content. I'm just not someone who likes when people have affairs so casually, especially when they are also upset when there spouse is doing the same thing. Either admit that you have an open relationship which is completely okay as long as both people are on board with it, or you can confront each other and fix what's happening, or finally break-up! Because of a lot of the cheating at first I did really like the Houdini's parts and seeing Harry outside of just his amazing talent. I loved learning about Bess and now I want to find a book about her learn more about her becaus I don't know much about her either sadly. I also loved seeing so many things like Listerine and State Fairs mentioned in this book. So many celebrity-based stories don't mention things like the State Fair even though they were very popular things during the 1900's for everyone no matter your status. I do think a lot of people will really like this book. Just be aware that a lot of the book is about Charmians Libido and affairs.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
Charmian is married to novelist Jack London. It's 1915 and the war is keeping the Americans occupied. Jack needs Charmian to organize his life. She's the one who types his articles, speeches and stories and makes sure he writes enough words to make his deadlines. Jack isn't an easy man to live with. He asks for complete devotion, but does what he wants. He's unpredictable, can't manage his finances very well and doesn't take care of himself in the way he should. There are always other women in his life too. Charmian can stand her ground though. She's a classy woman and she certainly has her own admirers. She craves Jack's love, but he only seems willing to give himself to her completely when there's someone to compete with. While Jack's behavior is getting more erratic Charmian struggles with her loyalty. Will she go for her own happiness or will she do what her husband asks of her? Will she bend to Jack's will or are there dreams of her own she should chase? Jack's health is declining and his need to earn more money is increasing. How will Charmian juggle this large number of problems? Fortunately her good friend Harry Houdini keeps cheering her up. His dangerous profession, cryptical letters and flattering attention are a welcome distraction, but will her conscience be able to handle this second large personality in her life? The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an intriguing story. I loved Charmian's intelligence and resilience. She's a beautiful woman inside and out. Jack is a charismatic man, but he's difficult to live with. Charmian can handle him as far as he can be handled. Their marriage is tumultuous, filled with power struggles and laced with intellect. There's love and resentment, there's grief and anger, but there are also happy moments. Charmian is a remarkable woman and she catches the eye of many men. One of them is the escape artist Harry Houdini. Harry loves her in a completely different way, but he isn't a free man. Charmian's conscience is constantly being tested and I couldn't wait to find out if she'd follow her heart or not. Rebecca Rosenberg has a fantastic spellbinding writing style. I absolutely loved her subject matter. I like fiction about real people. I enjoyed reading about the facade of glamour, the parties, the mornings after and the glorious holidays that always have to come to an end. Charmian has to work hard to make sure her husband delivers his books and articles, so they can pay for all of Jack's personal and business projects. Without her there wouldn't be a successful Jack London. Their marriage is twisted and tangled and because of it there are so many complex contradictions in their story, which was absolutely fascinating. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a dynamic, entertaining and compelling book. I highly recommend this gorgeous novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this title via netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I was attracted by the cover and the description sounded interesting so I put in a request for this book. I am so grateful I was given an ARC. I found this book to so interesting and well written. I was very impressed by the author and really enjoyed her writing. The book was obviously well researched and then written with enough fiction to fill the holes and make it an enjoyable story to read. I felt like I really got to know the characters and their personal feelings and motivations. I have not read any of Jack London's work and really enjoyed the quotes at the start of each chapter. The author did a great job using quotes that related to the chapter and set the tone for it. He has a beautiful writing style. It was sad to see his life end early from alcohol and morphine. Another waste of a good life and a great talent to addiction. I liked how Charmain and Jack supported each other in unconditional ways- great partners in every aspect, but I did not like their views on free love and the constant affairs. Really interesting read about interesting people in an interesting time of history.