A Betting Woman

A Novel of Madame Moustache

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Pub Date 01 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 01 Jul 2021

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Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache, A Betting Woman is a historical novel inspired by the tumultuous life, times, and loves of America’s first professional croupier of modern-day blackjack, bringing to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial real-life woman who lived on her own terms.

When her whole family dies in a fire, young Simone flees her grief and travels west to reinvent herself in burgeoning San Francisco. Down to her last dollar and facing some unsavory options, Simone quick-wits her way to a gambling table where she begins to deal vingt-et-un—modern-day blackjack. Word travels fast among of this French-speaking, card-playing novelty, and she begins to build a new life for herself.

Self-sufficient Simone doesn’t count on falling for an artist— not to mention a man of a different skin color—who society, and the law, says she can’t have. When he is murdered, Simone is devastated and sets off to find closure for his death.

Finding her way to a new boomtown, she adopts a new name, Eleanor Dumont, and opens her very own gambling emporium. "Dumont's Place" is a great success, drawing mountain men and fortune seekers from far and wide.

But the boom and bust of the gold rush stops for no one, nor do the challenges of a man’s world. Eleanor must continue to fight—for her livelihood, for her self-worth, and most of all, for her legacy.

A gripping and endearing tale, A Betting Woman brings to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial female who lived on her own terms... a Molly's Game for lovers of the American West. Fans of Thelma Adams, Therese Anne Fowler, and Marie Benedict will root for the quick-witted, charming, and self-sufficient Eleanor as she paves her way in a man’s world and into the pages of history.

Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache, A Betting Woman is a historical novel inspired by the tumultuous life, times, and loves of America’s first...

Advance Praise

A riveting tale based on a real-life woman who traversed the Wild West in the 1800s, dealing cards to gold-seekers and demanding respect on her own terms. From high society New Orleans to the dusty saloons of California, Walsh’s latest heroine is a seductive risk-taker who doesn’t suffer fools. A rollicking ride of a story.” — Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Engaging and empathetic, Eleanor Dumont's adventures provide a compelling picture of how women created lives for themselves in the hardscrabble boomtowns of the American West.” — Elise Hooper, author of The Other Alcott, Learning to See, and Fast Girls

"An enjoyable search-for-identity tale with a strong female protagonist." - Kirkus

"Walsh has written a fast-paced, original tale of the Gold Rush, complete with gun and gambling, bar brawls and boomtown. Highlighting the life of Madame Dumont, mother of Blackjack and the queen of fresh starts, A Betting Woman is a Wild West adventure featuring an ambitious, gutsy, independent woman as it's driving force." - Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions, Limelight, and Musical Chairs

"A Betting Woman is an engrossing story, very well done and hard to put down. Hopefully, it will reach beyond historical fiction audiences and into enthusiasts of women's literature who look for powerful voices, experiences, descriptions, and growth in their novels. It's very highly recommended reading." - Midwest Book Review

“When Eleanor Dumont’s family perishes in a fire in downtown New Orleans, she cuts her ties to the city and leaves on the next steamboat to anywhere. Soon she embarks on a wild adventure that ultimately leads to her renowned nickname—Madame Moustache—and a legend is born. A clever and cunning heroine, Madame Moustache outwits the best card shark in the west, makes her own fortune, and does it all with enough panache to impress nearly every saloon-goer she’s ever met. Walsh’s snappy voice, innate sense of pacing, and skillful narration make for a rollicking good read. A Betting Woman is a winner!” - Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author of The Next Ship Home

"A Betting Woman is a fascinating read that expertly weaves sparse fact and imaginative fiction into a story that introduces readers to a little-known but remarkable woman. Bold, pioneering, romantic, and intriguing, this novel will delight historical fiction fans and all who love a good tale about the strength and resilience of women.” - Camille Di Maio, bestselling author of The Memory of Us

"From its enticing cover to the turn of the last page, this novel is engrossing. Alongside other historical women way ahead of their time, Simone Jules was the first female professional croupier...Many memorable characters come and go, but what stands out is Simone’s autonomy, her self-reliance, her freedom to go where she likes and do what she likes. A fabulously entertaining story about a remarkable woman who just wanted to be herself." - Historical Novel Society

A riveting tale based on a real-life woman who traversed the Wild West in the 1800s, dealing cards to gold-seekers and demanding respect on her own terms. From high society New Orleans to the dusty...

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Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781948018951
PRICE $15.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

“Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache.” It’s 1849. Simone Jules, at nineteen years old, arrives at the booming town of San Francisco to reinvent herself. While on a ship, she was eavesdropping for any ideas of reinvention. She is of good manners and couldn’t imagine encouraging men to play, drink and stay a while at saloon. But when she sees a deck of cards waiting to be dealt, she sees herself doing just that. She becomes a croupier of modern-day blackjack. When a tragedy strikes her again, she is off to another place and another chance at life. She learned how to be an independent woman. Now, she wants to be an independent businesswoman. She starts the first gambling house in the California town of Nevada. Moreover, her own gambling house. She indulges men in evenings of sophisticated gambling. Loved the grasping prose, the word choice, the speed of lyrical like sound carrying the story constantly forward. “I’d learned at Papa’s shop (…) that men often needed a velvet voice and a smattering of flattery for encouragement.” Loved the classy and quick-witted character who at the game of cards is mostly surrounded by rogues with crude, unrefined tongues. She knows how to sassy them with her beauty, cleverness and French-ish background. Can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this phenomenal woman. Petit in stature, but larger than life in character. Beautifully developed character of a self-sufficient woman during a time when it was almost impossible. The injections of historical background are brief but they happen often, giving depth and a good sense of time and period. There is a constant reminder of that. This is the level of historical fiction I greatly appreciate. It’s not just a one-time long description of a time period and then forgotten throughout the story. The feelings shine throughout the story. Her contagious excitement about someone or a grief over losing someone or the coldness of the mountains that gets to you or a warmness of a place she creates for herself that you enjoy as well. Spellbinding novel. Superbly written by amazing talent crafting such an intriguing and clever story. P.S. Kudos to cover designer(s) for such original cover.

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B O O K R E V I E W Triggers : domestic/sexual abuse What I thought : I DID NOT want this book to end!! I really enjoyed getting to know Eleanor Dumont. She was a fierce female character and it was fun seeing how she changed and grew into a very strong woman. There was conflicts, drama, romance and SO MUCH detail. You can tell A LOT of research was done to tell this story from accurate points of time. I continued to want to know what happened next in the life she lived. It felt so exciting like I was physically there. I loved all of it. Characters : Some were short lived and some were carried throughout. This book has one main character and that was Simone Jules - Eleanor Dumont. Read if you like : strong female lead Would I pick it up again? Yes I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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An incredibly engaging story of a singular woman that you cant help but root for. Walsh paints her as a woman who takes control of her own destiny. She sets her own story and her own mythology into motion, instead of being a bland character only given identity as a reaction to external occurences. Walsh's Madam Dumont is a human being to look up to, to inspire. Walsh also pays great attention to the pacing of her novel, never allowing the story slow, lag, or get drawn into self-depricating streams of conciousnes. It is as rough, quick, exciting, and ever-changing as the wild west that the Madam conquers.

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Have you read Jenni L. Walsh yet? If not, you are missing out on a quiet master of historical fiction. In Madame Moustache, Walsh brings the story of an engaging and spirited woman to us in a style that makes us feel as if we are in the intrepid heroine’s skin. From the moment we meet the highly intelligent Simone Jules, we come to understand that her adaptive, take-no-prisoners attitude will serve her well through life and help her carve a path that no woman before had traveled. Bravo to Walsh for her elegant prose - every word in this novel is finely wrought and lovingly chosen. Highly recommend!

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Wow! What a book. This is a part of history I was unfamiliar with and I’m so glad I got my hands in it. The author is clearly knowledgeable about the topic. I will definitely recommend this book for book clubs.

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This is a really good book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before reading this, I had known nothing about Eleanor Dumont and am so glad I was given an ARC by the publisher. What a character she was, quite the woman, she had determination, adaptability, generosity, caring for others, she was smart, savvy, and I loved the way the author enhanced the storytelling with her imagination. The descriptions of the towns, emporiums, the fires, the way Eleanor dressed, her mule riding. I loved it all. This is an author to watch, I will be looking for more of Jenni L. Walsh. Highly recommend if you love the old west and want to see how one woman beat the odds. I want to thank Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing with NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC. This is a 5-star read!! Really good book!

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What if whenever tragedy struck you could reinvent yourself? What would it be like to let destiny and fate guide you in life altering decisions? Readers, let me introduce Madame Moustache. In this book author Jenni L. Walsh brings to life the incredible story of Simone Jules/Eleanor Dumont/Madame Moustache. Simone Jules experienced a tragedy so intense that she picked up and left everything she knew to start over. She inserted herself into a world dominated by men as a woman croupier (card dealer). Tragedy again stuck and Simone wandered as a means to find closure. A calm befell her as she embraced a new home and new identity as Eleanor Dumont. Her past life as Simone threatened to topple her new existence but it was the inevitable rise and fall of a mining boom town that had her off again. As a woman who lived most of her adult life on her own terms, she comes to realize that sometimes outside forces are out of a person's control. Madame Moustache embraced all who she was and who she could be as she ventured to carve out a legacy for herself in the rough and tumble western mining towns. Walsh delivers a brilliantly composed novel that truly encapsulates the uniqueness of its main character. A wonderfully enjoyable read! I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

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Thank you to Net Galley and Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing for giving me the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own. This was such an interesting book! I had never heard of Madame Mustache (Simone Jules, Eleanor Dumont), but I found her to be a very strong, motivated person. When her family dies in a fire, she heads to San Francisco to rebuild her life. She has to earn a living so she becomes the first professional croupier of modern day black jack. This is the story of her life, and all of the obstacles she faced as she competed in a man's world. This book was very well written with a lot of interesting facts about the Wild West. I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend you read it if you like historical fiction.

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Jenni L. Walsh has upped her game with A Betting Woman (no pun intended). I've been a fan since reading her first book, Becoming Bonnie. Her astute historical research and her ability to bring characters to life on the page draw me into her books, but A Betting Woman exceeded my expectations. The time period details and the obstacles Simone/Eleanor shrewdly turns to her advantage kept my interest. I enjoyed learning about Madame Moustache and the Gold Rush while being entertained by a gifted storyteller.

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