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on 15 January 2009
`The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers' spans roughly the quarter century from the mid 1920s up to the end of the 1940s and is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 [the first 110 pages or so] roughly covers the period between Maria leaving Nonnberg monastery to join the Trapp family and closing with the momentous decision to leave Austria at the outbreak of war, incorporating her marriage, the family's loss of fortune and the start of their singing career. Part 2 picks up the story as they approach New York and goes on to describe 10 years of their lives as a professional singing group, settling down in Vermont, the death of the captain and the establishment of what would become the Trapp Family Lodge ski resort.

It is probably reasonable to assume that almost anyone showing an interest in this book does so because of a desire to learn of the background to `The Sound Of Music`. In many ways the musical is faithful to the book, at least in essence, though don't be surprised to learn that a great deal of invention was employed, especially with the children who bear little relation to their real life counterparts. The main complaint is in the film's depiction of Georg as cold and aloof, something the family has been at pains to contradict ever since!

Much like the musical, the book has a high `feel good' factor: it is infused with a rosy glow of goodness and warmth in which there is little room for negativity, and even less for any complaint or criticism, despite sudden reverses of fortune. Don`t expect any dirty linen to be aired here! Maria's easy-going prose style is wonderfully fluid and accomplished: it gladdens, it saddens, and sometimes it amuses, but always it enchants.

Progressively, the reader becomes aware that the young free-spirited guitar-toting novitiate has become a strong and formidable woman capable of leading a large family, and perhaps dominating the captain who quickly recedes to a background role. It is clearly her drive and determination, and sheer force of character, that enabled the family to achieve almost the impossible, and was probably responsible for holding it together for so long.

The book is liberally festooned with descriptions of the family's religious rituals and Maria's own faith as a devout Catholic, which can appear `preachy` at times. Some readers may find these aspects a touch excessive, yet it is part-and-parcel of the lady's character, and as such this old sceptic found it acceptable.

The smaller Part 1 is the most relevant to `Sound Of Music' fans who will undoubtedly be entertained by scrutinising it in detail for similarities, discrepancies and surprising subtleties. Overall, it is an interesting and entertaining book that will handsomely reward both die-hard fan and casual reader alike.

Of course, there is more outside the scope of this book: for further information on Maria's life, see her autobiography Maria which describes her upbringing as well as later years in USA; the wonderful memoirs of eldest daughter Agathe von Trapp Memories Before and After The Sound of Music are extremely interesting and highly recommended, particularly for a description of the family's earlier years before Maria arrived.
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on 30 June 1998
This book is a refreshing view of family life that is exemplary. A great deal more of the spiritual character of Maria and the Trapps are seen in this book than was even hinted at during the movie. Throughout the book the reader can rejoice in the love and understanding of people that Maria von Trapp has. The Trapp children readily sacrifice and work to make it during the hard times. Maria says that the family that sings together, plays together, and prays together usually stays together.
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on 5 September 1999
I wanted to cry after reading this, which is unusual for me. Maria Augusta's Trapp's honesty as she shares her struggles of adjusting to new social groups is amazing. This book offers insights into what culture shock is truly like; so it would be great for the social sciences, especially multicultural educatiion.
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on 25 July 2015
I read this book in the seventies - and was interested to reread it now. The story of the Trapp family provides an interesting view of life around the time of WW2 both sides of the Atlantic - and sets in context the musical version. I must admit to finding some of the more religious aspects of the book difficult to stomach - but that is, of course, seeing it through my non religious eyes.
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on 12 May 2015
I have always loved this book as this is a real story behind Sound of Music film. It is much deeper then the film. I admire how much these people had to go through and how they always found strength in God and their faith. It is actually a book which really talks about Gods guidance in ones life. I also like how Maria writes, it is easy to read, a lot of positive humor in it. I recommend this book to every Sound of Music fan.
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I had waited to read this book for several years and was overjoyed to finally get a copy. This book is inspirational, well written, funny but conveys such a depth of examplary living that I felt humbled but at the same time priveldged to have read this book.

The writing style is witty with several anecdotes that will leave you in stitches. This book is better than both movies that it inspired - 'The Von Trapp family and The Von trapp in America', the original German film and the universally acclaimed best musical 'The Sound of Music'. Maria Von Trapp was an exceptional and inspirational human being whose unwavering trust in the Almighty God, shone through like a beacon of hope for all around her. Recognising that our task as human beings dwelling far away from our origin is to find out the Will of God and to do it wholeheartedly; bound by their fervent trust in God, the Von Trapps led a life of implicit trust in the Almighty Father and his laws; Especially at the most trying times in their earthly experiences, irrespective of what difficulties they faced, even when they did not know where their next meal will come from, their childlike trust in the Will of God and their striving to do that know that Will and to do it wholeheartedly saw them through everything. I found the accounts of their lives, joyful, inspiring and exemplary. As the saying goes, 'The family that prays together stays together.' Their family had the best foundation, any wonder that they took the world by storm, inspiring so many with their music? I am so glad to have finally read this book and would recommend it in a heart beat as one of the best inspirational books of our time.
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on 28 March 2015
Read this when I was at school and lovely to have the opportunity to re read it for a very cheap price in deal of the day. I am really enjoying it but it is probably for the older folks rather than a young persoms read.
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on 29 March 2015
This matter of fact story of triumph over adversity, with trust in God, even in very difficult times follows the same time as The Sound of Music but without the Hollywood hype. It also continues the story after they "climbed the mountain" and shows the highs and lows of this remarkable family changing from a wealthy landed family in pre-war Austria to penniless immigrants in the U.S.A.
It's a truly human and very readable book.
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on 11 January 2014
I bought this after seeing a programme on television - and am really pleased I did! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this - found it hard to put down, feeling compelled to keep reading! Loved reading about the 'real' Von Trapp family exploits - mostly happy but some sad.

Would recommend to anyone to likes 'The Sound of Music'.
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on 14 June 2015
Maria was a devout Roman Catholic and this shines through this account of her life before and after the Second World War. She was clearly a strong character, determined and full of faith, with a huge love for her whole family and all she met.
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