Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The First Emma” as Want to Read:
The First Emma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The First Emma

by
4.30  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Inspired by true events

1914 - Young bride Emma Koehler dreams of a happy marriage and a simple life with her husband, but her hopes are quickly dashed by Otto’s obsession with his business. Though they become one of the wealthiest couples in the country – a fortune made on beer, mining, and hospitality - Emma is lonely in their stone mansion, unable to have children and
...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Expected publication: May 5th 2020 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  33 ratings  ·  30 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The First Emma
Chanel Cleeton
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman, The First Emma is Camille Di Maio at her finest. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!
Tonni Callan
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review will be coming soon! Y’all do not want to miss this one!
It is Camille Di Maio at her best!!!!
Carol Deegan
Dec 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
This amazing book is the first book I’ve read by Ms DiMaio. I’ll be looking for more. Emma Koehler was an incredible woman who was a forerunner to the women’s movement. Her husband, Otto, was not a loving husband, and eventually had two mistresses, both named Emma. He owned several businesses, one of them a brewery. When he asked for a divorce, Emma refused, and seized the opportunity to be on the board of the brewery in exchange for her silence about his mistresses. After his death, she played ...more
Rochelle Weinstein
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read all of Camille Di Maio's books, and I can honestly say she gets better and better with each one. A brilliant storyteller and fabulous writer makes for a moving, hard-to-put-down read. That's THE FIRST EMMA.

When Emma Koehler's tycoon husband Otto is murdered by one of his many mistresses (conveniently named Emma), the first Emma moves through her solitary life at the helm of the brewery business with a remarkable story to share.

Upon her deathbed, Emma plucks the young, disheartened
...more
Marisa
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book posed a quandary for me: I wanted to finish because I wanted to know what happened, but I didn’t want to finish because I fell in love with the characters and with the story. It was absolutely fantastic from page one!

I have to admit something when I am reading a historical fiction novel about a real person I like to read the authors note. I like to see the research they did and what liberties the author takes. For me it makes the story more enjoyable. Finding out that Camille did
...more
Donna Hines
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
While I enjoyed the writing what I took pleasure in was the historical significance to not just the beer making industry but the trials and tribulations of this family.
There's a reason why this is called the First Emma because it implies more than one Emma and you'd sadly be correct.
It seems the mistress was also carrying the same name but the importance of such a name goes beyond the label as just a 'wife' or 'a mistress' it goes beyond even the career.
Mabel was one of those characters that the
...more
Kristina Elias
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Recreate herself into whatever this person in Texas wanted her to be. Aspiring writer? Mabel would become a fire-eating acrobat if it meant the chance to escape from this cold confinement."

Real Rating: 3.5

I was pleasantly surprised by The First Emma. I thought it would be another one of those, "I stuck by my husband, despite his infidelity..." type of stories at first, but I was quickly proven wrong.

Emma K (the original Emma) was a spicy character. Although she was old and growing
...more
Jenni Walsh
Fans of Camille Di Maio will certainly cozy up with her newest novel. I enjoyed that this was inspired by a real historical figure, albeit a woman with few details known to her name. That left the author room to put her own stamp on the story, the result being a well-rounded, endearing, and inspiring story.
Kelly
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing tale of Emma Koehler, a true story based on her rise as the CEO of a brewing empire during prohibition after her husband was killed by one of his mistresses.
This was a fun, enjoyable read and fans of historical fiction will be delighted with this.
I have not previously read anything by Di Mario but I will be searching out other titles soon!
This book provides a great deal of background into the times, the brewing industry and life of its characters, I especially liked the
...more
Mary-reeta
This is the first book I have read by Camile DiMaio and now I plan to read more. The story is about strong women , love , betrayal ,and gumption. The time is during the prohibition. Camile DiMaio does a great job with her characters, bringing them to life. The way she portrays them in telling their stories in two different time periods is excellent. This book was hard to put down and I highly recommend it.
Danielle
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story!! So many women were the backbones of industries all those years ago, and did not receive any recognition for it. I loved how Mabel’s sense of family never wavered, and she never forgot where she came from. So beautifully written.
Zoé
“Don’t prance around things like an antelope, dear.
Are you or aren’t you?
You must speak up.
Women don’t speak up enough.”


In 1914, we meet Emma Koehler, a young, optimistic bride, eager to keep the attention of her workaholic husband. A succession of unfortunate events lead to a tragic accident that changes everything and reveals who Emma has been all along.
In 1943, we meet Mabel Hartley, a young women heartbroken and left alone by the war. Answering a job advertisement to take dictation for
...more
Rachel
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The First Emma by Camille Di Maio is an excellent historical fiction piece that is centered on a real life amazing woman, Emma Koehler.

I have been a huge fan of Ms Di Maio and have loved reading all of her works, and this one did not disappoint.

I knew nothing of this strong, feisty, fiery, imaginative, innovative, and amazing woman that was unappreciated during her time. After reading, I was inspired to learn more about Emma online. I am so glad I was able to read about a strong, passionate
...more
Diane Secchiaroli
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really good historical novel narrated by two women, Emma and Mabel. Emma the wife of Otto Koehler, a brewery mogul during the late 19th and early 20th centuries follows Otto to San Antonio, Texas where Otto works for Anheuser-Busch. Soon Otto leaves A-B to start his own brewery. Mabel is a young woman from Baltimore whose mother is dead, her father is an alcoholic living on the streets, one brother is dead (WW2) and her other brother is missing in action. She leaves her employment after her ...more
Dorothea
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5.0 stars!!

I received a complimentary e-book copy of this book from Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to Camille Di Maio, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

First off, I must confess that I am a HUGE fan of this author, Camille Di Maio! I have read 4/5 of her books and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one. This book is her first historical fiction based on true events.
...more
Gregandemy
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to the publisher and author for providing me with a digital ARC of this title via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I knew nothing about this author or about Emma Koehler when I first saw this title on Netgalley. I was intrigued by the lovely cover (always a fan of judging a book) and the title. I wanted to know about this Emma and what was the significance of her being the first. What a powerful woman she was to do so much as a woman in business and for her employees at a
...more
Susan Gromis
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Camille DiMaio has taken a piece of history and brought it to life with her enthralling characters and storyline.
Focusing on the story of Emma and Otto Koehler, she relates the prohibition-era tale of a young brewery and its growth to one of the largest breweries in San Antonio...largely due to Emma’s relentless mission and business savvy. But behind the scenes, all was not well with Otto and Emma’s marriage, culminating in Otto’s murder, though not by his wife. His philandering
...more
Elaine
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is truly an amazing story. I love that it's written based on true story.. the first Emma was a very strong woman.. she believed in doing things standing up for herself.. the author did research got what she could for this story and it is an absolutely amazing story I love this book.. the first Emma is out to hire someone to do a biography you might say on her life, she sends out, gets many responses. But the one that gets her attention is Mabel. A young girl who has been hurt by love with ...more
Jen (The Bookish Blonde)
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The First Emma is a wonderful historical fiction novel that is based on the life of Emma Koehler. This book is fantastic from the first page and I could not put I down. It contains all the elements that I love in historical fiction - strong women character, a little romance and historical details regarding a subject that I a not familiar with. The plot of the book surrounds the murder of Emma Koehler's husband, Otto, who was a wealthy Texan living in San Antonio. Otto built the Pearl brewing ...more
Amy Robertson
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The First Emma, by Camille Di Maio is yet another gem written by this author. Camille writes wonderful historical fiction and this one stands up to usual quality of excellence.

This is the story of not one, not two, but three women named Emma. Okay, I must admit, this confused the heck out of me, but the characters were different enough that keeping them straight was not too hard. Our main Emma is Emma Koehler., a real person, in which the story revolves around. Emma's husband Otto, dedicated to
...more
Konny
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read each book Camille Di Maio has written and each one is better than the previous! This is just a wonderful, informative trip back in time that everyone will enjoy!

This is a historical fiction novel retold in 1943 to a young lady named Mabel Hartley.
She has been hired to write the memoir of the brilliant Emma Koehler, a quiet trend setter, that began in the early nineteen hundred's at Pearl Brewery in Texas.
As life is winding down for Mrs. Koehler, there are other pressing needs on
...more
Missy
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
True story of Emma Koehler, whose husband Otto was killed by one of his two mistresses. Tells of her rise as CEO of a brewing empire in San Antonio during Prohibition.
Retold to a young lady, Mabel Hartley in 1943 who was hired by Mrs. Koehler to write the memoir at the end of Mrs. Koehler's life. An amazing story of love, loss and the women who were the backbone of businesses during the Great Depression. This was the first novel I've read of Ms. Di Maio and certainly won't be the last.

Thank you
...more
Emily
Jan 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
The introduction to this book was remarkably confusing. I couldnt keep the Emma's straight. Then we jumped to someone named Mable, who was in a bad mood and left on a train. This is all that happens in the first seven chapters - grumpy people and a dull train ride. I gave up after that. The reading level of this book is YA, and the action is non-existent, at least through the first seven chapters.
Robin
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Net Galley, Camile DiMaio and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. This was a interesting story based on a real women Emma Koehler. Emma ran a beer brewing empire and maintained it and it's employees thru out Prohibition after her husband is murdered. Story is told thru her point of view and from her assistant/ biographer. Fiction based on a read person. Another great book by Camille DiMaio.
Strawberry
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another enjoyable read from Camille di Maio! I love it when I read a historical fiction novel and find out that it’s based on true events; and, especially in this case, about a woman who was way ahead of her time. The author did a wonderful job of presenting Emma Koehler’s story of betrayal and living as a woman in a man’s world by including a fictional romantic subplot. I will definitely be reading more of her novels in the future!
S.E. Morgan
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well written, gentle novel which I enjoyed; that a true story provided a springboard for the tale was an added bonus. It was thoughtfully constructed, with likable characters and the details were carefully researched.
In some ways the main surprise was that is was so gentle, given the violent murder of a key character, as the basis for the tale.
Cristie Underwood
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great piece of historical fiction!! I loved the fact that it is based on true events, as that added another layer to the enjoyment of this. The author was able to navigate between the past and.1043 without any issues or momentum lost for the reader. Overall, this was an amazing read! I am definitely going to read more from this author!!
Martina Primerano
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-reads
Full review to come
Sharon Brewer
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! It is based on a true story of a rich tycoon. Highly recommend!
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
  • The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel
  • The Forgotten Hours
  • The Buried Book
  • The Strawberry Hearts Diner
  • In Five Years
  • It Ends with Her
  • The Shadow Writer
  • The Winter Companion (Parish Orphans of Devon, #4)
  • Blitzed (Playbook, #3)
  • The Magnolia Inn
  • Winter Cottage
  • Spring House
  • The Five Shilling Children
  • An Orphan of Hell's Kitchen (Louise Faulk #3)
  • The Lilac Bouquet
  • Meg and Jo
  • The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal
See similar books…
805 followers
Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 22 years, she home schools their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She's lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai'i to feel like a local. ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »