Skip to main content

Mrs. Houdini by Victoria Kelly: A Book Review

Mrs. Houdini
Author: Victoria Kelly
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A captivating debut novel, meticulously researched and beautifully imagined, about the passionate marriage of Harry and Bess Houdini—a love story that defied death itself.

     Before escape artist Harry Houdini died, he vowed he would find a way to speak to his beloved wife Bess from beyond the grave using a coded message known only to the two of them. When a widowed Bess begins seeing this code in seemingly impossible places, it becomes clear that Harry has an urgent message to convey. Unlocking the puzzle will set Bess on a course back through the pair’s extraordinary romance, which swept the illusionist and his bride from the beaches of Coney Island, to the palaces of Budapest, to the back lots of Hollywood. When the mystery finally leads Bess to the doorstep of a mysterious young photographer, she realizes that her husband’s magic may have been more than just illusion.

     In surprising turns that weave through the uncertain days of the dawn of the twentieth century and continue into the dazzling 1920s, Mrs. Houdini is a thrilling tale that will take you deep into the heart of one of history’s greatest love stories—asking what drives people to believe in something bigger than themselves—even as it reveals the famous magician’s most remarkable feat of all.

     My Review: Harry Houdini is one of my favorite magicians of all time. I’ve read many biographies, documentaries, and do some of his card tricks to learn more about this eccentric man who seemed larger than life. When I saw that there was going to be a historical fiction novel based on Houdini’s wife, I was excited. Mrs. Houdini is often overshadowed by her elusive husband, and it was refreshing to have her in the spotlight. This novel follows two different timelines. The first timeline is when Mrs. Houdini is a widow, and she embarks on a search to bring back Houdini’s spirit. The second timeline follows Mrs. Houdini’s marriage to the infamous magician.

     Bess is a singer in a traveling circus. Within the first few hours of their first meeting between her and Harry Houdini, Harry suddenly proposes to her. Because Bess has only just met him, she is at first reluctant to agree.  Eventually, she agrees to marry him because she does not want to go back home to her mother. The two marry immediately, and she becomes Harry’s assistant. She becomes his number one supporter as he embarks on a journey to fame.

     Bess is a likable protagonist. She is impulsive, bold, clever, and observant. She is the first person to see through Houdini’s tricks. Because she married Houdini immediately after meeting him and does not know anything about him, she often ponders what her life might have been like had she refused his proposal. She wonders what she will be and what type of guy she might have married. She is also a sympathetic character. Harry oftens ignores Bess to focus on his career, and she is lonely. She wants to have children, and the fact they do not have any children hurts her immensely. However, through their marriage’s difficulties and their faults, they deeply love each other. Harry promises her that if he dies he will come back to her as a ghost. Bess sincerely believes his promise and is determined to see Harry’s ghost.

     Overall, this story is about love, friendship, and trust. The characters are very complex. Both Bess and Harry have flaws that have made some mistakes in their marriage, yet they both made up for it. The story is beautifully-written, lush, and lyrical. Mrs. Houdini is also a mystery and a ghost-story. The pacing was steady and full of suspense. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in Harry Houdini, supernatural mysteries, or love stories that transcend life and death.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland Author: Nancy Bilyeau Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery & Suspense Publisher: Lume Books Release Date: 2020 Pages: 291 Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.       The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.      But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of. Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodie