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The Last Woman Standing: A Novel Paperback – July 1, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
A New York Post Must-Read
A 2016 True West Magazine Best of the West: Western Books (Women in the West)
A Summer 2016 Hadassah Magazine Top Ten Jewish Bestseller
“The well-known historical scoundrels and lawmen of Tombstone come alive in this book, from Curly Bill and the Clantons to Doc Holliday. These men are vividly portrayed…Overall, Josephine’s voice is strong and bursting with personality. It makes for an engaging narrative.” —Historical Novel Society
“The in-depth details of life in 1880s Arizona and the larger-than-life characters who dwelled in the infamous town will appeal to readers of Westerns and women’s historical fiction alike.” —Authorlink
“Ms. Adams’ prose is fresh and smart and the feminist sensibility she gives to her subject matter makes for an engaging story. Her keen visual perception is translated into words, which in turn form pictures in our minds–a beautiful cycle of imagination and its translation. The thoughtfulness she employs to explore Josephine’s fears, motivations, and triumphs, pays homage to the gravity of her task—to portray a historical figure with emotional integrity.” —Book Club Babble
“A great flesh[ing] out to a lesser-known female Western figure, this book shines…Adams draws her readers in and doesn’t let them go.” —Montana Bookworm
“The Last Woman Standing is the best historical fiction I’ve read in some time. I’m a sucker for a plucky heroine who leaps before she looks. If you’re looking for a good Western, a good romance, or a historical retelling of the O.K. Corral, this book is for you. Adams holds your interest all the way through and gives you an in-depth look into a lesser-known historical figure behind the hero we all know.” —The Celebrity Café
“Narrated with a feminine sensibility in the voice of Josephine, The Last Woman Standing is, at its heart, a love story of epic proportions. The reader is led on an emotional journey to see if, in the end, the good guys prevail and true love conquers all.” —Atlanta Jewish Times
“This transporting novel swiftly whisks readers away to the rough-and-tumble, gritty boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, during its heyday. Miners, outlaws, and lawmen live almost side by side, and one remarkable woman makes her mark alongside the men. Blending fact and fiction, Adams brings Josephine Marcus Earp to life with her sassy, no-holds-barred, first-person account. This is a fascinating read that will make readers wish they could join Josie on her life’s journey.” —RT Book Reviews
“The Last Woman Standing is an exciting glimpse into the life of a young woman embroiled in the violence and rivalries of Wild West Tombstone...Adams brings a uniquely female perspective to the town’s legends.” —Night Owl Reviews
“If you enjoy history and romance, danger and deceit, you will find this is a terrific book for your library. Learning more of the past through such a venue keeps you reading and searching to the very end. Adams has given us a strong and passionate story filled with historical facts, and you will find it hard to put this book down. This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of interest to them both.” —BlogCritics
“There’s a great deal to be said about Thelma Adams’s book The Last Woman Standing...and all of it good. Very, very good. A feminist western mixing real and fictional characters, and totally defiling the era and prevailing attitudes of the times is no easy trick to pull off, and Adams does it with humor and, Lord help us all, charm.” —Examiner.com
“Movies, television shows, and books tell the story about lawman Wyatt Earp but very few mention his wife. Married for nearly fifty years, Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was beautiful, gutsy, and Jewish. Thelma Adams has delved into the life and times of Mrs. Wyatt with her latest...There would be no children but an enduring love, a passion that remained throughout the decades with the hurts and the laughter told during a time in history when one man and one woman would try to tame the west and each other.” —Las Vegas Informer
“Truth can be stranger than fiction, they say. But Adams does a pretty bang-up job of blending the two while embellishing Mrs. Earp’s rightful place in Western lore.” —The Buffalo News
“Wyatt Earp dodged many a bullet, but The Last Woman Standing is a fanciful, deeply entertaining account of how Josephine Marcus got him right in the heart.” —Chronogram
“Who doesn’t want to read about the woman who married Wyatt Earp? A legend of her own, she was Jewish, beautiful, and exotic, and Adams has made her alive and kicking on the page. A Wild West story made even wilder, more poignant and inspired by Adams’s fascinating research and glittering prose.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“It is not merely because The Last Woman Standing takes us to a time in the past that I felt dislocated upon completing it. Thelma Adams has also taken me back to a time when we could expect a gripping and rich yarn, for lack of a better word. I found myself thinking of Doctorow and Jong and Oates, and other good writers who have taken the historical novel and given it their vast intelligence and talent and a modern-day take on their subject. This—and more—Adams has done, and The Last Woman Standing will make you think of good work done by other writers, but it is also entirely original, and a marvel. It is a book you set aside like a fine wine and wait for the chance to reopen and savor it.” —James Grissom, author of Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog
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.
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I would recommend that before you consider this book, google Josephine Earp and read the Wikipedia article about her and other books written about her. It is hard to separate fact from fiction, especially since Josephine herself worked hard at maintaining a fictional history, hiding her not-so-stellar past for her entire life, even suing those who might make a movie or write a book about what she really was. Having a little background from a google search will help you understand the characters. Based on research, Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp aka Sadie Mansfield left San Francisco in December, 1874, at the age of 14 for Prescott Arizona where she was a "sporting lady" or prostitute. While there she met Yavapai County Sheriff, Johnny Behan. Johnny's wife filed for divorce in 1875 complaining that Behan "openly and notoriously visited houses of ill-fame and prostitution at said town of Prescott." After the divorce, "Sadie" becomes Behan's common-law wife. In 1881, she leaves Behan for the Deputy Sheriff in Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, whom she lived with for the rest of his life. However, in real life, Josephine, aka Sadie, spins the story that she did not come to Arizona until 1879, when she was 19. She vehemently hides her true past.
It does not come as a surprise to me that the real Josephine lived her life with two well-known men in law enforcement. She definitely wanted to be viewed as a respectable woman, despite her original profession. Perhaps, she yearned for the respectability that society gives law enforcement to rub off onto herself through her association with men of the law.
But who is the Josephine here? This book is told in the first person by Josephine Marcus. It is told as the real Josephine would want people to believe about herself, not about who she really was. It takes great skill for an author to tell a story in the first person and most of the time, it doesn't work. But I don't degrade this author because the book is advertised as historical fiction and the real Josephine was great at making up stories and passing them off as fact. So, it seems appropriate to read this from the first-person point of view.
From a technical perspective, the writing is simple and it appears to be aimed at a reader who reads at a teen/young adult level. The writing is well done. But the first-person writing just sits there leaving the story flat, with no depth. So I would give the author a technical score of 4 to 4 1/2 stars for the quality of the voice of her writing. But not a 5 as there is no character development. Everyone seems so shallow and not well-rounded. No one has a complex personality.
Generally, a book will grab you because of its great character development or its engaging plot. If there is no character development, that doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad book. You can have a great, suspenseful plot.
Gong! Leave the stage. Failure! The plot just plods along. No excitement. No Suspense. It is just too sanitized. Josephine comes off as a very naïve, innocent, young adult who happens to be a virgin, wants to stay a virgin until someone puts a ring on her finger. Yet, as innocent and naïve as she is presented, she left her Jewish parents in San Francisco to live with a man, Johnny Behan, who she doesn't really know, and won't marry her. Meanwhile, she finds herself attracted to another man, Wyatt Earp. The conflict within herself and between the two men could have been developed but No! The plot puts you to sleep. LITERALLY!!! I fell asleep and my Kindle slipped from my fingers and found itself on the floor. Come on! If you are going to fictionalize something, give it some oomph! The plot rates a 1. Not good.
My overall rating is 3 because the author does write well but doesn't seem to be able to tell a story well. Overall, the book is OK. I have read a lot of FREE books better than this and a few paid books that were worse but my overall impression after reaching the last page is meh... Very forgettable.
I believe I made a bad choice for my free monthly Kindle First as a Prime member. I hate to make a negative suggestion but I suggest that you look more closely at the other Kindle First picks before thinking about picking up this one.
Thelma Adams is best known for her work around the NY scene, particularly the film scene. She writes (and has written..) for many publications including the NY Post and has chaired the Film Critics Circle. Because of her penchant for writing for publication, you expect that her work should be clean and well edited.... and it is. It is a very welcome relief to find a novel that is exciting and interesting as well as exceedingly well written. There are a few tiny errors (but just a FEW.!!), but truthfully you will probably be so absorbed in the story as to make them unnoticeable.
This book is a story of a Jewish American woman in the early days of the American west. Our subject, Josephine Marcus, is a comely lass who lives with her family in San Francisco. She decides to throw it all up for a shot at love with a cowboy sheriff, Johnny Behan, from Cochise County, Arizona. Josephine leaves home when she is quite young (possibly as young as fourteen..??) and moves to Arizona where she eventually ends up in Tombstone. Her early "affair" with Johnny Behan turns out to be a mistake and she realizes it .... when she lays eyes on Wyatt Earp. Josephine is present during the "OK Corral" gunfight and her fate is sealed. Forever locked in a common law marriage with Earp, they stay together until he dies.
Josephine and Earp travel extensively together, make money and lose money, and become quite the item for early American writers. Josephine has subsequently become a well researched character in several books about Wyatt Earp. There is quite a bit of information around about Josephine, but very little (none..??) that actually documents her early teen age life. She was very protective of that part of her "history"... it is assumed because she was actually working as a prostitute in the Arizona territory after she left home. In any event, what you are reading is a fictional accounting of a very real person who lived a very real life with one of America's best known lawmen/gunfighters.
This is a love story in one of its truest forms. It attracts you because you can affirm feelings for all that is good (and bad..!) in the wild west of the late 1800's. Dusty streets, horses, saloons, cowboys, and gun fights over honor, either real or imagined. Hard fighting men, often without a wife of their own, took solace in the saloons and the bawdy rooming houses. Angry words were exchanged and someone lay dying in the dirt street. The undertaker was often one of the busiest merchants in town and "boot hill" was a gathering place for all those who had an itchy trigger finger and poor judgement...... And through it all walked Wyatt Earp and Josephine. Their story, as told here, makes for a very pleasurable read. As a fictional accounting, a novel, it succeeds because it tells a story about characters with whom we are familiar. It tells a story about the softer side of a true wild west icon. It explains when and where and how Wyatt Earp and Josephine lived, worked, and loved. It describes a passionate life that surrounded the legend of Wyatt Earp. And, at the same, it allows us to keep the legend, the myth, alive.
I loved this book.! It describes the wild places, and the wild people that lived in them. It tells stories of how the people lived, loved and died. And, at least in this case, it tells a story of a real woman who loved a real man and fought for their privacy until death separated them after almost fifty years. This is NOT a tear jerker. It IS a real story. If you like historical fiction, you will like this one.