by Thelma Adams
Thelma Adams has built a successful career writing profiles of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars. From Julianne Moore and George Clooney to Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey, her portfolio is dazzling and reputation as a film critic in the industry stellar.
Now, Adams shifts from Hollywood to the Wild West with THE LAST WOMAN STANDING (Lake Union Publishing; on-sale July 1, 2016), the first biographical novel about Josephine Marcus, Wyatt Earp’s wife, the gutsy Jewish beauty who captured the lawman’s heart in 1881, the year he fought the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral.
In her well-researched and vividly composed novel, Adams doesn’t waste any time proving her talent as a dynamic writer with a cinematic flair. She explores the brief defining period when Josephine comes-of-age on the American frontier, weaving action, wit, and clever 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. Adams’s storytelling from a female perspective, and her rich and descriptive style, allow the reader 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 a compelling novel: 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 soul mate—in a lawless outpost among cowboys and lawmen, where few people are what they seem on the surface.
“Adams is that rare, vivid author who brings a cinematic quality to her wildly entertaining fiction.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
He might have been a man of few words, but every word counted.
When I took his hand, I felt an unfamiliar excitement. It was as if my life was actually happening to me, right then, and right there. This was why I’d left home: to end the agonizing wait for my life to begin. I might have been a failure onstage, but I intended to be the star of my own life…
I sensed eyes staring at me. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it happened just that way, as real as the feeling of sunshine while your eyes are closed. That was the first time I saw Wyatt. He was looking straight at me.
In Tombstone, everything on the street was a show, and a fight between two women always got a big audience, given the town’s ratio of roosters to hens.
Here, in the soft light of etched- glass oil lamps, I had a chance to become who I really was. While I wasn’t entirely familiar with that Josie yet, I could feel her at the edge of my fingertips.
…while Johnny may not have been the fastest draw in the West, or the bravest lawman, or the first on the scene, he could talk a snake out of its fangs.
I enjoyed the casual and friendly tone of the narrative of Last Woman Standing; it was given from the single point of view as the widow Josie tells her story in an amusing and somewhat conspiratorial manner. The scenes were vividly detailed and the emotional feels well captured. I was pulled right into Josie’s tale and was there with her in her impatience to escape her mother’s hostility and control, her sense of wonderment and excitement in starting her new adventure, as well as the uncertainty and dustiness of her travel, which was followed by the bitterness of humiliation and shame from Johnny’s betrayal, but all to trumped by her instant and intense infatuation with Wyatt Earp. Based on Ms. Adams words, I was just as enthralled with Wyatt Earp as Josie, and found myself Googling both of them as I read as well as after I had finished.
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.