Hazel Tharsing was born in California in 1888. Intensely shy, she learned to meet the world as the glamorous actress Carlotta Monterey, by far the greatest acting role of her twenty-year career. Counted among the most beautiful women in America, she married a British aristocrat in London, then the twenty-year-old son of her mother’s lover in San Francisco, then a famous artist in New York, and finally America’s greatest playwright, Eugene O’Neill, in Paris. This novel about her life takes us to the cities and the back country of the Old West, to Edwardian London and an English country-house life reminiscent of Downton Abbey’s, to the Broadway theater in its golden age and the tough reality of the actor’s life on the road, and to bohemian Greenwich Village and Manhattan’s arty Smart Set in the 1920s. Through it all, Carlotta is an outsized presence, inventing endless new faces to meet the challenges that life throws her way and turning from every defeat and disillusionment to look ahead with newfound energy and determination.
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Brenda Murphy is the author of more than twenty books. Most recently, she has been writing biography, memoir, and biographical fiction. Her latest books include Becoming Carlotta: A Biographical Novel (2018), based on the life of the actress Carlotta Monterey, Eugene O’Neill Remembered (2017), a biography in documents, and After the Voyage: An Irish American Story (2016), historical fiction based on the experience of her immigrant family in the Boston area from 1870 until the 1930s. Brenda and her husband live near the University of Connecticut, where she taught for many years. Both are avid fans of the UConn Women’s basketball team.