Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Book Review: 'The Last Woman Standing' by Thelma Adams

New York author Thelma Adams graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a history degree from UC Berkeley and earned an MFA from Columbia University. Though she is an established figure in the entertainment industry, writing celebrity features and criticism for high-profile publications, this is only her second published novel. The power of her writing along with the obvious affiliation with the history of cinematic materials makes this second novel one to inspire the reader.

Immediately upon reading the opening paragraph of THE LAST WOMAN STANDING we have a full taste of the intrigue that lies within: ‘Tombstone kicked my a** and I kicked back. No one expected that of a little Jewish girl from a no-name family. I wasn’t invited to the dance near the O.K. Corral with my husband, Wyatt, and his brothers Earp, or those irascible Clantons, or my ex, Sheriff Johnny-come-lately Behan. I was just a woman— a footnote— expected to tuck my skirts under my tail and inspire male bravery when I wasn’t baking corn bread or childbearing. That was never my idea of the wild frontier life for which I’d run away from a good home. I had big dreams and big brown eyes and lashes like whips.’

Thelma’s synopsis lays it out: ‘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…At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.’

Spirit, fine writing, and the matrix for a film – all here for a good couple of evening’s reading. Grady Harp, July 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.