Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!, 15 Jan 2009
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This review is from: The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (Paperback)
`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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