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Wax, a novel by Therese Ambrosi Smith Published August 1, 2011


Pearl Harbor is attacked, and three young women take jobs in industry. Before the war ends, one will lose a nephew to combat, one will receive a mysterious inheritance, and one will refuse a marriage proposal, after admitting that she’s never been attracted to men. They’ll forge lifelong bonds, and discover a shared past. When the war ends, they’ll reject aprons and heels. Tilly Bettencourt leaves her sheltered home for the shipyards at Richmond, California. She learns she’s more resilient than she’d ever imagined. She also discovers that she’s in love with her neighbor, Sylvia Manning. Convinced that her “condition” is due to weight-loss and hormonal disruption, she eats as much as she can, to no avail. At Kaiser, Tilly meets her future business partner, Doris Jura.

After victory in Europe, Tilly and Doris receive layoff notices, but are unwilling to return to waitressing and selling cosmetics for a fifth of their wartime salaries. They pool their savings and start a business making candles that is successful until an arsonist burns their factory. During the trial, secrets kept for more than a generation are revealed.


Wax is a story of strong female friendship, sexual-discovery, and long-held secrets, set in the 1940’s, as the seeds of the civil rights and feminists movements are sown — along with victory gardens.

It’s fiction inspired by the real lives of “Rosies” who came of age during WWII. The women in Wax struggle to find their own paths; they ultimately find happiness through self awareness and acceptance.

An August, 2012 review of Wax by All Books Review can be read here.

Therese's Favourite Bookstores


Wax is distributed through national wholesalers: Ingram and Baker&Taylor. Your neighborhood bookseller should have no problem ordering it.

Below is a list of debut-author-friendly independent bookstores that do online fulfillment. They’ve supported me, will you support them?

By city — listed alphabetically — they are:

Bainbridge Island, WA: Eagle Harbor Book Company

Bellingham, WA: Village Books in Fairhaven

Gualala, CA: Four-Eyed Frog Books

La Canada, CA: Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Leavenworth, WA: A Book for All Seasons

Lincoln City OR: Bob’s Beach Books

Olympia, WA: Orca Books

Quincy, CA: Epilog Books Spokane, WA: Auntie’s Books

Walla Walla, WA: Book & Game

Watsonville, CA: Crossroads Books



About Author

Therese Ambrosi Smith became fascinated by a remarkable collection of WWII oral histories at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park, and her debut novel, Wax, was born. Her short fiction has incorporated personal tales of work and travel: climbing mountains, surveying logging roads, designing parks and playgrounds, tending bar and selling fish. She completed the UCLA Writers' Program in June 2009, and is currently embarking on a "tin can camper book tour."