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 unable to keep his attentions at home. When a tragic accident changes everything, Otto presents a new betrayal – and Emma must choose between loyalty and independence in a world that demands convention.
1943 – Mabel Hartley flees Baltimore after the war leaves her broken and alone. She answers the advertisement of a dying woman in San Antonio, with an urgent plea to come write her memoirs. In Emma Koehler, Mabel discovers astounding resilience - a pioneer who weathered personal devastation and navigated her large brewery through the storm of Prohibition. Soon Mabel realizes that Texas holds more for her than this new friendship. Romance blooms even as she’s given up on love, and an unexpected phone call gives her hope that not all goodbyes are final.
The First Emma is a moving story of love, hope, and murder that captures one woman’s journey to make her mark on history and another’s desire to preserve it.
Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published May 5, 2020
by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
First off I loved the blurb, in no way does it give the story away with too many details (sometimes spoilers).
As the title implies there is more than one Emma. It may sound daunting with the possibility of confusion but it's not at all. Told from the POV of the first Emma which begins in her 80's but then goes back in time, we get to hear her story.
For me The First Emma got off to a slow start, especially when Winnipeg was placed in Ontario not Manitoba (copy edit where are you?) Not a good first impression for this proud Canadian. Mabel joins the cast and these two women together made a great pair. The unveiling of secrets, desires and heartache come through and given this book is inspired from true events made it all the more interesting.
I find lately that timing is everything when it comes to books I read. I was graciously given a digital arc and planned on reviewing back before publication date, which was May 5th, 2021 but at the time it wasn't a proper fit. This time it was. An unknown piece of history with a strong formidable woman. The newspaper articles closing each chapter gave insight to what transpired in the courts.
This is my first time reading Camille Di Maio and I will be back for more. I love the unknown pieces of history along with strong women ahead of their time.
Again my thanks to the publisher for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.