The Secret Life of Mrs. London

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

I found The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg to be a very readable book. I have read a previous book by the author and really liked that one also. This book is fiction based on fact.

That said what is the book about? It is the story of Charmian Kittredge London, wife of Jack London the prolific author. Charmaine is Jack's second, younger wife, and they spend their time smoking, drinking and writing. Charmain types as Jack talks although Charmaine did have her book published through Jack's publisher. They are competitive and there is a lot of jealousy and intense emotion between the two.

She is the woman behind the man, if you will, and ensures that his writing gets done, she also nurses him through his alcoholism. Even with the jealousy and strong emotions, their marriage is one that has endured. She was an active partner in the Beauty Ranch, their spread on Sonoma Mountain in Glen Ellen. They wanted their ranch to be self-sufficient and a provider of food products for the ranch.

They become friends with Houdini and his wife Bess and Charmaine becomes enamored with Houdini and they are intimate friends without the sex but after Jack dies their affair becomes intense. 

Jack is an alcoholic and becomes extremely strange at the end of his life, he has his lower limbs swelling, from the drinking and an infection in his foot. What exactly caused his death may be a question that still needs answering, there is talk of suicide but never proven. 

After Jacks's demise, Charmaine is left on her own. With her writing skills, Charmian published articles for Mid-Pacific Magazine, along with The Log of the Snark and Our Hawaii plus going on to promote Jack's writings. He finished his novel Cherry and had i it published with Cosmopolitan magazine.

Did I like the book? I didn't think I would but as I got into it I was definitely hooked, I love Charmain because she was definitely a strong woman and even though Jack was jealous of her talent, he let her be her own person. The writing is great and definitely well researched. I read The Call of the Wild when I was a child and I never paid much attention to Jack's writings so reading this book gave me an idea of who Jack really was. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading more by Rebecca!
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I really liked this story. I have read Jack London's books and have read about  Houdini.  This is a very well written and truly interesting book. I will recommend this to everyone.
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The author did a brilliant job of capturing the time period in this novel.  The characters and plot were also well written.  This was a great piece of historical fiction!
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The setting is the early 1900s at the beginning of the Great War. Mr and Mrs Jack London both have many admirers and practice a rather unspoken open marriage.  One attraction of Mrs London's is to Houdini the magician, who she encounters after being selected as a participant in a magic trick. Jack London has to compete with Houdini for his wife's devotion.
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The Secret Life is an intimate look at the marriage and affairs of Jack and Charmaine London.  The talented writer is also an irresponsible drunk, and expects his wife (his “mate” as he calls her) to pick up the pieces that he leaves as he bulls his way through life.  Charmaine is more complicated.  As dependent on London as he is on her, she is deeply dissatisfied and turns to others to fill the gaps in her marriage.
I really liked this story, the setting and the historical perspective.  As is probably clear, I really did not like the characters.  I wanted to, but ultimately gave up on them.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a fictional look into the life of Charmian London.
Charmian is emotionally devoted to Jack London and he to her. But there life is nothing but eccentric. They have seperate sleeping rooms, box with each other and live a life of travel. Tenisions raise when they make the acquantiance of the Houdinis. Charmian and Bess become fast friends but it is Chramian's attract to Harry that motivates her. 
The first half of the book is charming and intriguing. I loved looking into their life learning about a couple i had never thought twice about. Though the author fictionalies teh tale, I was drawn to looking up the true history of their relationship. Kudos to Rebecca Rosenberg for making me want to know more outside her novel. 
The book starts to drag down as we learn more about Jack. I really disliked the character and was quite sad that Chramain put up with so much. For me, tyeh story drags at this point as i start not caring about the charcters and their relationship.
I would encourage others to read it. I would love to have a discussion about what they took away from it and what they thought of tehse characters based on real people.
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I LOVED The Secret Life of Mrs. London!! Review to come on Goodreads!! This follows the love triangle between Jack London, Houdini, and Charmian London. I did not know much about Jack London prior to reading this so this was a fun read and I love historical fiction!
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I didn't understand this book. I just didn't get it. The writing was choppy and and dialogue was boring. I whole book just seemed so dry. It's nothing like how it was described in the blurb. I didn't understand the point the book was protraying although I know there was one. I just wasn't bothered with this book. My rating is probably biased since I didn't really get the book. But the characters were annoying and I didn't care to know their story to be frank.
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A fabulous read on Jack London and his wife Charmian. I knew little about either novelsists and this novel piqued my interest to learn. This historical fiction is more as it intertwines the true life and some history.
This was a great read and will definitely seek out more from Rebecca Rosenberg.
Thank you NtGalley for the opportunity to read for an honest review.
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It's 1915 and America is struggling to stay out of the war.  This is where we meet Charmian London, the wife of author Jack London.  He is a man who seems larger than life, he is egotistical, self-serving as well as an alcoholic with tendencies towards Socialism.  She, while also an author, does not do as well as her husband, and has her problems in living with a man who is so complex.  Both have dalliances, although he is a man of many affairs.  Through the course of their 9 year marriage, they have many complications to wade through and for her, in particular, much to put up with and quite a good deal of pain.

It is at a performance of Harry Houdini, when Charmian meets Harry Houdini, the magician who brings her up to the stage.  He also has a complicated marriage but yet it would appear that he is "taken" with Mrs. London.  Sending her cryptic messages, she soon becomes drawn into his magic.

This book was well researched and well written and one which I enjoyed.  My thanks to NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The Secret Life of Mrs. London was very informative. I knew nothing about Charmain London. I knew nothing about Jack London and Harry Houdini. Although the characters irritated me often, I liked the book because I've never heard about this situation before. Fairly good read overall.
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I really like historical fiction and a book about Jack London and Houdini...all the better!  From the wife's point of view.  Always thought of Jack London as the outdoor, healthy guy...but we get a different story when read through the eyes of the wife.  And did you know about Houdini's help in the war efforts?

Two men, all know to us, and the love triangle that existed between them.  This book weaves their lives together at a time in history when our country was close to going to war.
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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.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing for an advance copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.  Not only had I not read anything by this author in the past, I knew virtually nothing about Jack London and his wife.  As I read the book, I kept going back to search out photographs, stories about them, etc.  And, that's just what I hope for in any historical fiction novel...that it interests me enough that I want to search out additional information.  The author succeeded in this effort. The information on Houdini, and his wife Bess, and Mrs. London's affair with him (this was verified by her own writings) added another level of interest, as I have read historical fiction about the Houdini's.  I enjoyed the book, even though I'm not sure either Mr. or Mrs. London would have been the kind of people I'd have wanted to be friends with.  What a great way to start the new year, with this being my first read of 2019.  Well done. I honestly think Lake Union never steers me wrong, and this is just one more example of that.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was not what I was expecting, but overall I loved it. The characters are full of depth and even the side characters are interesting. I also did not realize how prolific London was; the only Jack London book I read prior to this novel was White Fang. Rosenberg makes it clear that London was a troubled man, but still very much a man of his era. WWI is an ever looming presence in the novel, and both he and Houdini are motivated by the lack of American involvement in the beginning of the war. This was an engaging and interesting read, very similar in theme to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

The only reason this book is not a five star read is because Charmian London is an unlikeable protagonist, although she is more relatable towards the end of the novel.
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When I first started this book, I had a hard time getting into it. But I was able to sit down and read about 70% of the book on one sitting. I was pulled in!
What a great story of mystery and intrigue! Jack London lived a life of pampering and luxury, which came at a great cost. He had to slave away with his writing, often using his wife Charmaine to print as he spoke. 
The Houdini's were an interesting match. Bessie was like an child trapped an adult's body. She never seemed to really complete Houdini (in my eyes). Which is why he often strayed but he kept his wife happy with dolls and things.
The characters are extremely well-written, each of their personalities, their demons, their desires, leap off the page
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I enjoyed this book very much. 

London was a complicated man as well as being a full fledge narcissist. His views were in no way run of the mill.  Beating to his own drum, a man not knowing his limits, London certainly lived life his way, on his terms. It’s fair to say his relationship with Charmian was complex - he took, she gave. 

Charmian rustled my feathers. I admire her profound love for London, however, she lost herself trying to be what he wanted and I found this extremely disturbing. Tolerating his multiple indiscretions, their physical connection out of this world, she put up with a lot, more than I could have and this is where my fondness of her disappeared. I would have preferred her going head to head with Jack rather than succumb to his every whim. No matter, their relationship tested boundaries and caused a fissure between the couple. Her attraction for intricate men became apparent when she befriended Houdini. 

Nice vision from Rosenberg, captivated my attention with such a juicy read. Not your average couple by any means and I found the story beyond entertaining. A book leaving you pondering is it more nonfiction than fiction. Highly recommend.
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The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an engaging novel that follows Charmian London as she goes through her life with the famous author Jack London. When the author thrusts the reader into their lives all is not well. Jack, while being a famous and well-to-do author is struggling. Their marriage is faltering and money is running dry. The author paints Jack as an interesting character. He’s struggling with his craft, he’s obsessed with the unknown and learning more, and is intent on building something that will stand the test of time. Charmian loves her husband, but the struggles that their marriage faces are often daunting for her.
The Secret Life of Mrs. London is the first book that I have read by this author and I found the overall story to be both interesting and tragic. I appreciate that the author incorporates some of Jack London’s quotes into this book and this helps to tie the story closer to the characters. I like that the author doesn’t waste too much time introducing Houdini into the story and his eccentric wife. While there is sometimes strife and tension between Jack and Charmian and other characters close to them, I like that there isn’t that much between Charmian and the characters that she interacts with. This story takes place during the Second World War and I appreciate that the author does not leave that out as well.
If there was anything that I didn’t like about the story it was mostly connected to how Jack dealt with his wife. I didn’t like that he was always calling her Mate. Now, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, but I felt that it was often dismissive of her and what her role truly was in his life. I also didn’t like how he capitulated so often and so quickly to his ex-wife and daughters. They used him simply for his money, I wanted him to stand up to them.
While I didn’t devour this book in a matter of hours or a couple of days, I did enjoy this work of fiction. The author creates a unique story behind a familiar name and brings the reader a story that engages and entices them to go deeper. For me, the end is a bit empty and unrewarding, but the overall story is enjoyable. I am rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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This book tells the story of Charmain, second wife of Jack London and lover of Houdini. I enjoyed it and read it one sitting. I struggled to like the characters though, I expected (knowing their history) to dislike the men but Charmain doesn’t come across as a very likeable character either and this made it quite hard for me to get into The book is clearly well researched and very interesting but whilst I enjoyed the book I wouldn’t re read it. 
I was given a ARC by NetGalley all opinions are my own.
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Fascinating. Charmain London was unknown to me and I suspect that fans of either Jack London (her husband) and or Harry Houdini (her lover) might feel differently about this novel which looks at her relationship with both of them. Read this as a book about a woman who is dealing with questions about herself and her relationship with two very dynamic men, neither of whom was a gem in real life. Charmain, btw, is, to use an old fashioned word, a home wrecker. She's also a talented writer in her own right. This was clearly carefully researched and it's nicely written. Thanks to net galley for the ARC. This is for fans of the genre of historical fiction that examines the lives of the wives (and lovers) of famous men who have previously been little more than a footnote. You'll learn a lot while enjoying a good story.
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