2018 MARKS 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HOUDINI – LONDON AFFAIR
New historical novel reveals details of the love triangle.
Houdini “stirred me to the deep” – Charmian London’s diary
2018 kicks off with a provocative novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, by Rebecca Rosenberg, about Jack and Charmian London’s fateful meeting with Harry and Bess Houdini.
“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” –John Cox, wildabouthoudini.com
November, 1915. The Londons attended the Great Houdini Magic Show at the Orpheum Theatre in Oakland, California, where Houdini performed his Chinese Water Torture Chamber Act. The couples dined afterwards and became fast friends, spending Thanksgiving together, and keeping up a lively friendship which lasted until Houdini’s death.
January, 1918. Charmian London traveled to New York to see Houdini in the patriotic World War I extravaganza, “Cheer Up” at the Hippodrome Theater, where he famously made a five-ton elephant disappear on stage. Most of the evidence of their affair comes from Charmian London’s diaries at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. Charmian wrote that after they saw each other a few times, Houdini made a “declaration” that “rather shakes me up.” They became intimate a short time later. She wrote that Houdini’s visits “stirred me to the deep,” and that he felt the same, declaring, “I’m mad about you,” and “I give all of myself to you.” Throughout, she refers to him alternately as “Magic,” her “Magic Man,” or “Magic Lover.”
THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, by Rebecca Rosenberg
San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.
“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.”
–—-Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini, a novel
California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma Valley, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. Following Rosenberg’s non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA, The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel. ISBN 9781542048736, $14.95 Published by Lake Union, 1/30/18 Available locally through Reader’s Books, Copperfield’s Books. Online Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Wholesale: Ingram, Baker and Taylor or Brilliance Publishing.
Rebecca and her husband, Gary, founded the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Jack London Park, Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.