Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review: "The Last Woman Standing" by Thelma Adams + Giveaway!

The Last Woman Standing Thelma Adams
Published: July 1, 2016 (Lake Union Publishing)
ISBN: 9781503935181
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Westerns--especially ones with female central characters, lore around the shootout at the O.K. Corral, "fabled" love stories

Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.

But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…

My Thoughts:
The cover is lovely, but this is the real Josephine
Before I get into what I thought of this book, I feel like I should address a usually major point I have with historical fiction based on historical characters:how true is it? If a novel diverges greatly from a historical characters true persona, it doesn't work for me.  The case of Josephine Marcus, however, is a unique one.  She (the person, not the character) spent a great deal of energy in her life trying to create how history would remember her and Wyatt Earp by creating stories about the two of them and going to great lengths to suppress certain facts.  Because of this, I don't think anyone would be able to create an accurate portrait of her or her relationship with Wyatt Earp and, when Adams portrays something that is not supported in what can be considered the historic record, I really have no problem with that, whereas I might if this book were written about any other fictional character.

Now that is out of the way, onto the book!

So, the Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral--we all know about the Earps and the Clantons and Doc Holliday (well, to be fair--I only knew the basics of it, even after 2 visits to Tombstone, but this book did a great job of explaining it all).  But there seemed to be a missing character in all that, Josephine Marcus.  She came to Tombstone as the fiancee of Johnny Behan (the Sheriff of Tombstone who had it out for the Earps), but only became his mistress, before leaving him and then taking up with Wyatt Earp.  So, you know, a love triangle.

I enjoyed getting to know Adams' version of Josephine Marcus.  She quickly becomes hardened by the "Town to Tough to Die" (yes,they actually have that on the signs there!).  I do think that Adams' Josephine was much closer on the sweet side of the spectrum while the "real" Josephine Marcus was rather salty.  Still, there is a fair amount of development with Josephine, which is necessary as most of the other characters rely more on their legendary characterizations than anything new by Adams (which, in this context of the book being about Josephine, is fine).

(I took the above video in March 2016 during my most recent visit to Tombstone.  Yes, that is what it is like now).

Adams skillfully brings Tombstone to life in this book. I visited Tombstone for the second time only a few months ago, and mostly because I knew I would be reading this book, so I was familiar with the town (as it is now, which is frankly nothing more than a tacky tourist trap). However, reading this book, the Tombstone of the 1880's seemed to emerge from the ashes of the trinket shops, "olde" time photography studios, and constant shoot-out shows that go on now. If you are curious about Tombstone, don't go visit it--just read this book.

Despite a scene in the book describing
Josephine posing for this portrait,
it is not actually of Josephine Marcus.
I had a few nit-picky criticisms about this book.  I wish we had gotten to know the Earp woman, Allie and Mattie, a bit more.  I also felt that the climax of this book didn't quite feel right.  It seemed like it should have been at the shoot out, but it sort of plateaued for a while, which was odd. However, neither of these were deal breaker and, in the end, didn't really hamper my enjoyment of this novel.

I would definitely recommend this book widely, but especially to those who are wary of westerns and find them to be overly masculine.  I would also recommend this to anyone who has visited Tombstone and was turned off by the commercialism.  This book will give you a far better feel of the place than any visit there.

About the Author:
Thelma Adams is an established figure in the entertainment industry. For two decades, she has penned celebrity features and criticism for high-profile publications. Her portfolio of actor interviews includes Julianne Moore, George Clooney, Jessica Chastain, and Matthew McConaughey, among many others. While covering film for the New York Post, Us Weekly, and Yahoo Movies, Thelma became a regular at film festivals from Berlin to Dubai, Toronto to Tribeca. She sits on the Hamptons International Film Festival Advisory Board and twice chaired the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle. Her debut novel, Playdate, published by Thomas Dunne Books, won high critical acclaim. Adams is often recognized, as she has been invited to share her expertise on many broadcast outlets, including appearances on NBC’s Today, CBS’s Early Show, and CNN. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a history degree from UC Berkeley and earned an MFA from Columbia University. She lives in Hyde Park, New York, with her family.

Connect with Ms.Adams on Facebook, Twitter, and her Website.

Want to read more?  Visit some of the other stops on this blog tour!

I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one print copy of this book to give a reader (US and Canada).  To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will run until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 27th.

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