Miranda Reads's Reviews > The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg
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3.5 stars
If I can get Jack boxing this morning...he’ll be revved up for a good writing session followed by a “grand lolly” that will linger in our loins for days.

And with that we are introduced to Jack London's wife, Charmian, an amateur boxer, aspiring writer, and free spirit .
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Figure 1. Jack London and Charmian (his second wife).


Charmian is in the unique situation of wanting more to life during a time when women were supposed to be content with their lot. She's written books but no one would publish them. She has ambitions but no one takes her seriously. She wants to have sex but her husband is not up to it (though, I do not blame the man on that account. I could barely turn the page without her hounding him. The poor guy must have been exhausted by her unrelenting libido).

What bothered me most about this book is how casual she is about starting affairs. In one sentence, she swears that Jack is the only one for her and in the next she's smooching Lawrence behind his back...and to top it all, she condemns her aunt for the same actions.

I should comfort her, but it’s hard when she brings this upon herself with her carousel of lovers.

And when she befriends the Houdinis - yes, she befriends Houdini's wife - she spends only a sentence or two over the guilt. I really thought she would've been torn over the betrayal of her friend's trust but that is not much expounded upon in the book.
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Figure 2. Bessie and Harry Houdini..


While I was overly interested in who was sleeping with who, I did have fun reading about what life was like back then. The author did a great job of setting the scene. A few times I would look up familiar brands only to discover they really were invented back then (i.e. listerine as mouthwash was used over a hundred years ago). Additionally, Jack London had a killer first aid kit:

rattlesnake oil for rheumatism, Dr. Bonker’s Egyptian Oil for stomach cramps, heroin for asthma, morphine granules for pain, cocaine for toothaches.

No wonder why doctors were so treasured back then.

That being said, there were a few moments that threw me for a loop. For example (view spoiler)

Overall, this was in interesting read! The author really transported the audience into the early 1900s and fleshed out the main characters really well. And I enjoyed all of the literary references to Jack London's works. While this is not something I'd normally read, I am definitely glad to have had the chance to read this.

The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - A book that's published in 2018

With thanks to Rebecca Rosenberg and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

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Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Ky (new) - added it

Ky WHat do you think of this book so far? I am debating giving it a try!


Miranda Reads I'll be finishing it tonight. I'll let you know what I think in my review tomorrow :)


message 3: by Ky (new) - added it

Ky Great review, thanks for writing it :)


message 4: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Fabulous review, Miranda!


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Great review Miranda. I wonder if Listerine tasted the same back when it was invented. :)


Jolee Awesome Miranda


Miranda Reads Thank you. And that was something I wondered too


Rebecca Rosenberg Hi Miranda, Very intelligent review. Is your 3 star rating about Charmian London's behavior, or about the issues the book raises for discussion of issues oof fidelity, loyalty, what it costs to live with genious and ego? Is your rating about the quality of the writing or about the characters behavior? I tried to create a realistic story for bookclubs and friends to discuss the issues. Thanks for your input.


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