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The First Emma

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  618 ratings  ·  249 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 un
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
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Jennifer Oakley Technically, there are 3 Emmas. But only one of the Emmas really features prominently in the book. The other two Emmas are mainly in the prologue and …moreTechnically, there are 3 Emmas. But only one of the Emmas really features prominently in the book. The other two Emmas are mainly in the prologue and the news clippings that appear at the end of each chapter.(less)

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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  618 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The First Emma is a fascinating rich historical fiction, I loved reading it so much!
Di Maio has explored her very best prose in this one and has filled The First Emma with extraordinary fabulous details that I felt in love! The timeline changes are transmitted in a perfect performance, there are many moments that you feel Emma in her struggles but the Author has build her so strong and I can say that she definitely is one of my favourite character I've read this Year!
Emma Koehler is a married w
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The First Emma has two timelines. The first includes Emma Koehler, a wealthy newlywed living in 1914 with her husband, Otto. She’s lonely as her husband works and philanders. There’s an accident and another betrayal, leaving Emma forced to decide whether she’ll stay or go.

The second time takes place in the 1940s as Mabel Hartley leaves Baltimore with a broken heart. A terminally ill woman in San Antonio placed an ad for someone to write her memoirs, and Mabel accepted. The ad was written by Emma
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
Thanks to Netgalley for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

First, the cover designer of Camille Di Maio's books needs a big bonus because the covers of all her books are absolutely stunning! That's why it's difficult to resist hitting that request button.

The First Emma takes readers back to the United States in the prohibition years and tells the story of how a murdered tycoon's wife builds a brewery empire. Now an older woman, Emma Koehler wishes to tell her tale about how a young
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!
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back in 1914, Otto Koehler, a successful entrepreneur and President of the San Antonio Brewing Association/Pearl Brewing Company is murdered by Emma B., his mistress. Also at the scene of the murder is Emma D., his ex mistress. Both women were nurses to Otto’s wife Emma Koehler, who had accepted her husband’s indiscretions after a car accident left her in a wheelchair. Otto’s wife cared less about her loveless marriage than the thriving brewery business she helped build. She ignored the affairs ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Wanting her story to be told, Emma Koehler puts out an ad for a journalist to write her book.

Wanting to escape Baltimore, Mable applies and lands the job even though she isn't a journalist.

What Mable finds when she arrives in San Antonio is an elderly Emma with an interesting life's story to record. She also finds relatives who aren't that friendly except for Erik.

I thought it was clever how Ms. Di Maio introduced a character to record the life of Emma Koehler as we learned how Emma wanted women
Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I read this book as part of a tour. I must say that this historical was very well researched and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot.
This is a must read for historical lovers. I gave this book 4 stars and recommend it.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
Camille DiMaio's THE FIRST EMMA is a wonderfully researched and beautiful historical fiction story about the brave and strong women and their complicated roles in history especially during the early 1900's, the Prohibition era, and the amazing history of the breweries in San Antonio.

The story begins dramatically in 1914 as we hear about the murder of one of the richest and most influential man in the country, Otto Koehler by one of his many mistresses ( the other Emma). Otto’s wife, the first E
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!!!!
Martina Primerano
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Camille Di Maio is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, so I was so excited to read her new novel in advance!
To be completely honest, I didn’t love it as much as The Beautiful Strangers, because I didn’t feel as deeply connected with the characters as I was with that one and I wasn’t as much engaged in the love story, but nonetheless The First Emma was a wonderful book.
It isn’t even a real criticism, it’s just that I loved The Beautiful Strangers a little bit more, and if there is anyo
Laura • lauralovestoread
What a delight! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading The First Emma. What I found was a fast paced intro that began as a love affair and ended that first chapter in cold blood.

I enjoyed the historical elements of a San Antonio brewery and how the strength of one woman was the saving grace to keeping things afloat during prohibition.

*Thank you to the author for this gifted copy. All opinions are my own
Susan Peterson
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The First Emma encompasses everything that I love best in a historical fiction novel: a story that is inspirational as well as compelling, a story that enriches my own life by educating me on a historical time and figure with whom I was not well-acquainted. Emma Koehler is such a fascinating person--she was able to achieve so much during her lifetime, things that were unheard of during the first half of the 20th century. The fact that she was able to be so successful with the backdrop of Prohibi ...more
Patricia Sands
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Camille di Maio has yet to disappoint me with her exceptional story telling. Beginning with The Memory of Us, I have loved every one of her novels and The First Emma is no exception. The prologue establishes the location of San Antonio, Texas in 1914, introducing readers to German-born Otto Koehler, one of the richest men in the United States. Included in his vast holdings is Pearl Brewery, a commanding presence in San Antonio. Surprisingly, we are also introduced to the three Emmas in his life ...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 Mab
Judy D Collins
“A captivating retelling.
Meticulously researched.
Historically stunning.
Richly drawn characters.
Di Maio delivers another
exquisite narrative. 
She Dazzles!"

Set in San Antonio, Texas in 1914, master, storyteller Camille Di Maio, brings her characters to life on the page, delivering another stunning narrative. A genuinely captivating novel THE FIRST EMMA. Her superb research and her attention to detail, does not go unnoticed.

Inspired by the true story of a woman named Emma Koehler, who was the wi
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of Camille Di Maio's writing. She always amazes me with her historical fiction and all the details she puts into the stories to keep them engaging while also teaching an interesting lesson.

I have never heard of Otto and Emma Koehler prior to reading The First Emma, so this story was fascinating and compelling. I don't even like beer, nor do I care about how it is made, but somehow I found myself enjoying reading about the process through Camille's eyes. I love how Emma was so busi
Love this story!!!!!!!!! This is a story of four women who all had a hand in shaping each other's lives and one who made history. Emma Koeler marries Otter and helps him shape his dream of owning a brewery and she makes it the most successful brewery around San Francisco. Mabel is a young woman hired to tell Mrs. Koeler's life story and boy what a life it was. Thank you to Netgalley and Wyatt Mackenzie Publishing for my honest review. ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a good story. Emma Koehler is in a loveless marriage. She looks the other way while her husband has affairs. Until he is murdered by his mistress also named Emma. Emma helped him build an empire with their brewing company during the prohibition era. Now old, Emma places an ad for someone to write her story. Mabel Hartly accepts that request. I loved the time period. I loved the strength and courage of these women. I have never heard of Emma Koehler before and I really liked reading ...more
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The First Emma

📚 𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀! If you like books with a strong female protagonist, 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗘𝗺𝗺𝗮 by Camille Di Maio is the book for you. Emma Koehler knows that her life is coming to an end. She hires Mabel Hartley to record her story, but she has also an ulterior motive to bring this young woman in her home. Emma’s story starts with leaving her beloved family and town of St. Louis to follow her new husband, Otto, to start their new life in San Antonio, Texas. They will start a successful brewery that w
This book was such a pleasant surprise. I went into it expecting it to be good, but it turned out to be even better than that. I mean, it’s a historical fiction novel set during WWII, but the war wasn’t the focus of the story. It held its own and I am so happy about that.

So where should I start? Ok, how about this: the story revolves around a brewery. Heck yes! I loved learning a bit more about the history of brewing and prohibition, and the brewery felt like an extra character in the story. I h
Tanya Williams
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The First Emma is a wonderful and intriguing story based in reality. I found myself swept away into the warm evening air of San Antonio, Texas while I stepped back in time. The two timelines (1914 and 1942) merge seamlessly as the characters connect with one another, each of them having a deep and lasting effect on the other.

The story is a complete package with an immersive experience in terms of location, characters, and descriptions of sweet and savoury treats that make your mouth water. I en
Basic B's Guide
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my second book by this author and she doesn’t disappoint. Camille is a big reader and huge supporter of fellow authors. I love watching her YouTube videos and Instagram/Facebook commentary. She’s always so appreciative and supportive of those in the reading community.

What I also appreciate about Camille is that she writes truly unique stories. She urges the reader to dig deeper into the characters and the setting that is presented. After reading The First Emma, I immediately made a note
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Camille Di Maio writes the most amazing historical fiction books! This is another one that is based in fact. The first Emma was an actual person and was a formidable and remarkable woman. She was quite the business woman and ran a brewery in San Antonio in and around 1918. Not the thing that women did in those days. The book documents what the author could find out about Emma’s life and develops a fiction story around it. Fun fact - there were three Emma’s in real life and they were all vastly d ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A Camille Di Maio historical fiction never fails. Never. The research and creativity that she puts into her works is astounding and The First Emma is no different.

The First Emma is Camille's fictional take on Emma and Otto, real life owners of Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. Meticulously researched, Di Maio's intention was to tell Emma's story. Of course, true to history, there was not much to tell because women didn't have much of a voice then and all credit was given to the men. So through rese
menna hafez
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Really Into This
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Melissa contributed this review to Really Into This

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Happy Reading, friends!

Special thanks to Lake Union & Suzy Approved Book Tours for providing our copy of The First Emma by Camille Di Maio in exchange for an honest & fair review.

Mabel finds herself in a dead end job is actively looking for new stars Desperately, she answers an ad for a personal secretary. She up & travels halfway across the country for this new opportunity. She lands in
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 resea
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
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was richly told and the characters were so real. I loved how the story was told and the setting. The timeline was fabulously done and I will have to check out other stories by this author soon.
A fascinating true story about how a woman turns her husband's brewing company into an empire that survives Prohibition, after he is murdered by one of his mistresses.

I knew nothing about Emma Koehler or Pearl Brewing before picking this up, but the only thing better than a dramatic story is one that's true, so I couldn't resist. It's a great story, but I think it could have been told in a slightly better way. It's as though the author attempted to tell it in dual time periods - one when Emma i
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Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 23 years, she home schooled their four children, two of which are off to college. 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 ...more

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