By: Camille Di Maio
Publication Date: 05/05/20
My Rating: 5 Stars + Top Books of 2020 Camille Di Maio's fifth novel THE FIRST EMMA is inspired by the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses--both also named Emma--and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
“A captivating retelling. Meticulously researched. Historically stunning. Richly drawn characters. Di Maio delivers another
Set in San Antonio, Texas in 1914, master, storyteller Camille Di Maio, brings her characters to life on the page, delivering another stunning narrative. A genuinely captivating novel THE FIRST EMMA. Her superb research and her attention to detail, does not go unnoticed. She dazzles! Inspired by the true story of a woman named Emma Koehler, who was the wife of a German-born brewer. After an accident, her husband took on not one but two mistresses, and both named Emma as well. Otto, the husband, was murdered by one of the mistresses. Emma, the wife, turned into quite the businesswoman after left to take over the brewery business. She not only took over; she excelled and kept all her employees working even during the Depression. Pearl Brewery was one of the only brewing companies in the country at the time that did not go out of business. She was highly creative and makes you think about the times we are living in currently, that business owners must adapt and be creative. She builds an empire in the brewing business and became a prominent successful woman against all the odds. The San Antonio pioneer and widow’s story is riveting and fascinating. Once, the Pearl Brewery, today has now been turned into a top boutique hotel called Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas. (stunning) Everything the Author pens is exquisite! If you have had the opportunity of entering her world of historical fiction, count yourself lucky. If not, please do so. It is a rewarding experience. As with her all her novels, each is meticulously researched. She finely weaves the historical past with the contemporary present, delivering a captivating, absorbing, and satisfying reading experience. You are also assured to learn something new along the way. With her vivid descriptions, emotions, settings, and likable characters, she is one of the best historical fiction authors I have come across. My favorite! What enhanced the novel, the author brilliantly crafted a companion character, Mabel, for Emma. She has her own story of love and war. She came to Texas answering an ad at a time when Emma was getting older and in her eighties. (loved this relationship)
She was to write Emma’s memoir and story. However, she got so much more than she could have imagined. She learned from a wise woman and she inspired her to take risks, love, and leave the past behind. I love the way the book was laid out with the snippets about the murder and news articles. THE FIRST EMMA further reiterates why Camille di Maio is at the "top of her game." Her creativity, impeccable research, intriguing storylines, and her ability to bring the past alive is extraordinary. I love how she writes about strong women and how their lives intersect across generations. How women made a difference in a man's world. From stunning architecture, vibrant settings, and historical landmarks—each adds intrigue and mystery. A compelling story that will resonate. What I enjoy about historical fiction is allowing the author to take liberties, while inspired by a true story, but yet get into their heads or as in this case, there was so little material about this courageous woman, that she needed a voice. She gives them a voice, and who doesn’t love that? Camille breathes life into her characters and gives them the story they deserve. Indeed, she accomplished her goal of taking inspiration from Emma’s life while exploring the feelings she may have had while she was placed in such a unique and remarkable time period. Just think a woman running a business in a man’s world and taking the beer business and steering the company through the Great Depression. What a beautifully passionate story. Camille truly captured the essence of this astounding woman’s life. What I love about Camille’s books is they are rich in history, you will be assured to fall in love with the details, the romance, and find yourself doing your own research because you are so pulled into the story. Plus the gorgeous covers! I love the "Author's Note and wish more authors would do this. I adore this because I am so intrigued about the story behind the story. THE FIRST EMMA is both inspiring and empowering. Well done! This is a Top Books of 2020. I highly recommend all the author’s books. I have read them all and each presents an unforgettable story and characters than linger long after the book ends. #JDCMustReadBooks A special thank you to the Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, the author, and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. Truly honored. PS, Years ago in Atlanta, I worked for the third-largest beverage company and distributor as Director of Sales. It was such a man’s world, so I cannot even imagine being in the early 1900s. Read My Reviews (all 5 STARS) She is on my Top List of Books each year.
About the Author
Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of twenty-three years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too.
Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmers markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal.
She is an Amazon Bestselling author as well as a Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee. Her books have won: The Beverly Hills Book Award, the Golden Quill, and been a Holt Medallion finalist several times over. They have been translated into French, Hungarian, German, Estonian, and Persian. Read More