The Last Woman Standing
A Novel of Mrs Wyatt Earp
AVAILABLE FROM LAKE UNION JULY 1, 2016
Josephine Marcus – a gutsy Jewish beauty — captured lawman Wyatt Earp’s heart in 1881, the year he fought the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral. This first biographical novel explores the brief defining period when Josephine comes-of-age on the American frontier, weaving action, wit, and introspection.
The daughter of Jewish immigrants, Josephine shames her tight-knit family (her over-bearing mother begins to sit-shiva the minute Josephine walks out the door) when the 19-year-old follows the smooth-talking and attractive lawman, Johnny Behan, from San Francisco, California to Tombstone, Arizona. Hanging on the slim promise of a wedding, the naïve young woman eventually discovers the older man’s untrustworthy side. She also learns that divided loyalties and corruption plague the silver boom town—with her fiancé at the conflict’s heart. And she can’t pretend she hasn’t noticed the courageous straight-shooter Wyatt Earp who becomes Behan’s sworn enemy.
When Behan betrays Josephine, she leaves him—and immediately faces the harsh realities of being a woman on her own in the Wild West, a world where a lady’s every action depends on a man’s approval. Told from a richly descriptive female perspective, the book invites readers to feel Josephine’s desperation as she realizes the only available options she has are prostitution or returning home. That is—until Wyatt Earp declares his love for her. As their romance blossoms and their bond deepens, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books.
The Last Woman Standing is both an epic tale of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American legend through a female lens. Josephine is a charismatic, fierce heroine who seeks to reinvent herself—and find her soulmate—in a lawless outpost among cowboys and lawmen, where few people are what they seem on the surface.
ADVANCE PRAISE & REVIEWS
“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’ 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, Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog
“It may seem like an enormous leap, but Josephine Marcus, our heroine here, is at least the cousin if not the sister of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. Spunkier (what an awful word!) and forced to deal with a bit more violence than the Austen heroine, her bravery, humor, and humanity shine forth in a novel well worth reading. Adams’ creation will stay with the reader for a good, long time.”
“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.”
NY POST Must-Read Book: “It’s a look at Wild West legend Wyatt Earp — from his wife. In her latest novel, former Post writer Adams channels Josephine Marcus, the real-life, frank-talking Jewish New Yorker who fell for the frontiersman in the 1880s. ‘I got a long way from folding kreplach,’ Josephine tells the reader.” — New York Post
“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
“There’s a great deal to be said about Thelma Adams’ 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.”
“The Last Woman Standing is primarily a historical novel with a little added romance. 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.”
“Movies, television shows and books tell the story about lawman Wyatt Earp but very few mention his wife. Married for nearly 50 years, Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was beautiful, gusty and Jewish. Thelma Adams has delved into the life and times of Mrs. Wyatt with her latest release, The Last Woman Standing: A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp….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
AMAZON 5-STAR REVIEWS
***** Wild West from a woman’s perspective
If Mark Twain were to tell a story from a woman’s viewpoint, this would be it. A completely surprising viewpoint of the wild west! I enjoyed this read thoroughly. – Amazon Customer
***** The Old West at its Best
For ANYONE who longs to have been able to stroll the dusty streets of Tombstone in its heyday; to have been able to lounge in the Flys’ photography studio and have a whiskey and a somewhat sordid conversation with Kate the Nose; to have been a first-hand witness to the events leading up to, following, and including the infamous Standoff at the O.K. Corral; and, to have met one of the least well-known but most interesting female personas of the Old West, Josephine Marcus Earp, THIS novel is a MUST-READ! The first-person narrative is not only captivating, but unafraid and absolutely honest it its portrayal of Josie’s complicated life and personality. With more than enough factual threads to make the tale jump off the page, and just enough “make-believe” to keep those threads from unraveling. Kudos to Ms. Adams for a thoroughly enjoyable read! Here’s hoping she continues to explore and share with her readers those seldom-seen, often-forgotten women who have literally MADE history! — CatahoulaMom
Great characters. Vivid descriptions. A real taste of the old west. Wish I had read it before I visited Tombstone. — Stephen T. Mitchell
*****Best book of this year
I loved this novel for the excellent combination of fact and fiction. The author really did her research and made the characters come alive. I felt I was right there with them, sharing their triumphs and sorrows. — traveler55
*****A Refreshing Look from a Woman’s Point of View
I really liked this story. While some people don’t like first person writing, I think that it can be very refreshing. Thelma Adam’s writing was colorful and descriptive. There was good character development in that you could interpret a lot about the heroine’s personality by the way she spoke about the events that occurred in Tombstone and San Francisco. Historically speaking, there is Josephine Marcus’ account of her life and the one that most historians subscribe to. This book more or less accepts Josephine’s account as the truth. This is fine with me. I like to think well of people. If there was one fault that kind of disappointed me, it was that when I read the last word on the last page of the novel, I turned the page expecting to find more. Leaving Wyatt Earp and Josephine outside her family house, knowing that they were about to confront her emotionally damaged mother for the first time was about as pivotal to the book as the fight at the OK Corral. I suggest to the author that the book should end after that meeting, or is there going to be a second book? – Frank C. Okusako
*****Wyatt Earp and his common-law wife… Josephine…
I chose this book as my Kindle First selection this month for a couple of reasons. First, because I have read another work by Thelma Adams called “Playdate” see here: Playdate … and second, because I am an avid reader of historical fiction… particularly early American. This book hits both of those qualifications.
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. – Tolkien Fan, Top 1000 Reviewer
I Love this novel! A retelling of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, told from a woman’s point of view… and not just any woman, but by Josephine Marcus, the woman who carried Wyatt Earp’s heart as he carried hers. Love, death, honor, betrayal, courage and cowardice, all revealed on the dusty streets of Tombstone AZ. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read, even if you – like me- are not a real history buff. This book contains is life – pathos & joy with all the moments in between – and it is utterly enthralling! Warning, some sex and violence. – Jaelle62
I knew the history, but loved this book. Enjoyable read highly recommend it for a summer book. Hope you enjoy it, too. – Lisa A. Pastor
*****I didn’t want it to end…
The main character was believable, charming and stubborn, likable even if you wanted to slap some sense into her. The descriptions were apt. I had no trouble picturing the scenes or people. A very good read.–Hamlet
What a great look at the old west, through the eyes of a woman who was actually there. How empowering this has been. – Dmutty2
*****Was sad to see it end.
Held my attention from page one. Had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t actually written by Josephine. Will be looking for more books by Thelma Adams. – Donna
*****This lady can write
I have read a lot about the Earp brothers. This gives a different and wonderful new perception in a really well written style. This is a very good read. – Barbara A. Shoemaker