Marie Benedict is enchanting. There are no other ways orowordsofor describing all her books and her writing-style, delicate, penetrating and psychologically engaging. You are cuddled by her words and the fascinating atmosphere she creates every time.
Her previous books, Carnegie's Maid and The Other Einstein revealed us the characters of two stunning women like she does also in this latest novel, The Only Woman in the Room. In this one, there is a stunning reconstruction of the suffering years that preceeded the beginning of the horror that was the Last Second World War Conflict and not only. The book is divided in two parts as the life of the protagonist has been.
I didn't know anything of Hedy Lamarr before reading this book, a character who can't be forgotten with simplicity.
It happened not just to Lamarr, Austrian, to ending in the hands of someone in the other part of the barricade before that the Second World War would started: victims and torturers.
Jewish, and proud to be a Jewish, Hedwig Kiesler of Dobling Austria, at 18 years made a movie, censored, and she was the protagonist of Sissi at the theater of Wien. She starts to be courted by an influential, rich man of a certain age, Fritz, Friedrich Mandl. Mandl created and sold munitions to people of extreme right: he had direct contacts with Mussolini and the rest of the fascists and nazists borning establishment in the various European States, Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany.
Substantially he was in contact with dictators.
Fritz appears terribly romantic with this girl presenting her wagons of roses every day after the show of Sissy and going directly to speak with the parents of the girl asking for the hand of their daughter.
Worries were many and this choice was made by the parents of Hedwig "opportunistically", thinking that maybe their daughter and family and village would have escaped the horror that the dad of Hedwig was imagining in a few years.
The sensation that something horrible would have happened to them in case of a no was too big.
At the same time, the girl falls fascinated in the while by this man; she eats with him in plates that are made by real gold and in stunning places, so she is both surprised and pleased by these wonderful attentions.
She says at some point: "The success in Sissy, my burgeoning relationship with Fritz, they felt too perfect to be real. Unearned, Mama would say."
The marriage will be celebrated in a catholic church and the girl constricted also to become christian.
After the wedding as sometimes happens, the groom is not anymore the peaceful and nice man known before and Fritz is part of this gang. Oh, the honeymoon appeared to be so romantic; Italy, France, the most stunning localities that a newly wed couple can dream of, but what this girl will tell us, the book is written in first person, is that Fritz at some point will start to be "different." Yes, she covered the girl of attentions, but what he wanted was someone beauty to be displayed during their numerous lunches and events.
His mantra was that "The power of money always prevail."
We will see that Fritz gave hospitality to Mussolini, that he personally knew and many other esponents of right while, the girl started always more that these events continued to going on and hatred against Jewish more strong and dangerous, to be worried.
Situation deteriorates in particular during the vision of the movie where the girl is protagonist.
Fritz thinks that she shouldn't go out anymore closing her in his estates. Like a bird in a cage.
The girl decides to going away, but how to do that? She tries several times and then she does it.
She affords to London and then to Los Angeles, where she starts a new life with a new last name, Lamarr.
Considering what she knew and heard during conversations, meetings, lunches, dinners of her husband with the dictators of the moment, Hedy will be helpful during the second world war.
A consideration of the protagonist of this book: "My personal history and every path I could have chosen in my past had shaped my present", says.
That's why she had to acting, believing in someone for doing it.
A wonderful book this one, intense as the previous ones written by Marie Benedict. She is one of my favorite writers and so I want to read immediately her works, they are stunning and there is a great sensibility and description are paradisiacally beauty, there is a richness of interiority that this author is in grade to transmit to her readers while she becomes her characters giving them a strong voice.
I want, just before to close this review to open a parenthesys regarding Sissi.
I read various biographies of Sissi, and in this sense I didn't know at all that she lived secluded because of her husband.
Francis Joseph found, helped by Sissi a lover in an actress of theater, now I forgot the name of this girl, while Sissi continued to live her own life, yes, devastated by the loss of his son Rudolph and the death, never clarified of his beloved cousin Ludwig; I din't know at all that the emperor kept her secluded; considering her character it wouldn't never been possible. At the end the ladies chosen for staying close to Sissi were not anymore "picked up" for the importance that they had at court, but because healthy and with a strong constitution. Sissi loved to walk per kilometers also during the night and it requested ability, a good and energetic body. I didn't know of this role played by Francis Joseph.
I thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks for this ebook.
Anna Maria Polidori