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Sunday, May 24, 2020

The First Emma by Camille di Maio

A true story of Emma Koehler - a success story at a time when women did not become professionals or enter business and especially this business which started with a brewery. This told in the form of a dictated memoir to a young employee begins at the very end of Emma's life and is such a rewarding, but sad story.

Emma had two distinct lives. One her married one, which she tried so hard to make a success of. Her husband Otto was not interested. His biggest love was making money and after that two women both named Emma, both nurses of his wife who looked after her very well. It was a strange arrangement in one house until he moved both the mistresses into one house with his wife in another. His death or rather murder became the crime of the decade because his mistress admitted to it, and she got off by a very sympathetic jury.

Emma was not bitter about her marriage and towards the two girls. Her love was for her employees and she was always thinking of them particularly because she knew no one else would. The book details much of American history from the Prohibition and the fight against it and the emergence of women though this was a slow process.

Very fascinating reading of a remarkable woman.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Wyatt Mackenzie Publishing.


  1. Koehler really sounds like she was an interesting character. Based on your commentary she seems like she did not fit into any neat boxes.

    I am currently reading John Barry’s The Great Influenza. It talks about several woman scientists, such as Anna Williams, who rose to the top of their fields back in the early 1900s. The barriers that these women faced and overcome were remarkable.

  2. Emma certainly seems like a compelling character. Her story is engrossing. I can understand why you liked it so much!

  3. I haven't heard of this one before or Emma Koehler. This sounds fascinating though.

  4. Sounds like a good book. Weird about the names of the women! I guess it was common then (as it is again now!)