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on 8 January 2009
Agathe von Trapp is the eldest daughter of Baron Georg von Trapp whose family achieved fame firstly as a celebrated singing group and subsequently as the subject of play and film `The Sound Of Music`. Fans of the play/film are recommended to start with `The Story of the Trapp Family Singers' by Maria Augusta Trapp (Agathe`s stepmother), which details the years from Maria's arrival in the mid 1920s to shortly after Georg's death in the late 1940s, and which was the actual inspiration for the film.

The book under review is a charming and unpretentious trawl through the memory of 90 year old Agathe, designed principally to describe the creation and development of the Trapp family during the early decades of the 20th century, and to bring the story up to date with an overview of the family members' progress after the singing group disbanded.

Almost half of the book is an absorbing account of Agathe's own childhood prior to the coming of stepmother Maria in the mid 1920s as Agathe entered her teens. These pages are invaluable in documenting the family's origins and ancestry as a wealthy and influential part of Austria's elite, before, during and after the first world war, and to 'set the record straight' by presenting her biological mother as the original family matriarch.

Through the eyes of young Agathe, we see a somewhat rose-tinted view of a world long gone, a world of adventure dominated by large houses, older relatives and servants. She paints a vivid picture of a privileged Catholic child growing up in those turbulent years, trying to make sense of the various places and people she encounters along the way, yet shielded from many of life's harsh realities. All are depicted positively with much humanity and affection, but her parents in particular are shown as warm-hearted, loving and utterly devoted to their children.

The central portion of the book covers the 'Sound Of Music years', offering an alternative view of the early years with Maria, and shedding more light on the nature of their relationship and her sometimes volatile character. It is intriguing to see Maria from a new perspective: Agathe's appraisal is not overly extensive, yet it is honest and revealing, showing that while The Sound Of Music's portrayal was close to the mark in many respects, the real Maria was more complex, and far more interesting.

Later years are covered less extensively, especially those which overlap with Maria's own accounts, but continue to enchant with delightful personal anecdotes of outings with her father or life 'on the road' in the USA. Agathe's views on The Sound Of Music are interesting, and she concludes by bringing the family's story up to date.

Overall, the book is fascinating and illuminating. Though written by a non-professional writer, it is all the better for it's down to earth language and easy-going style. The text is accompanied by lovely little line drawings from Agathe's pen that both illustrate and amuse, and a large collection of historic family photographs extending as far back as the engagement of her paternal grandparents in 1875!

Highly recommended.
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on 27 February 2007
Agathe von Trapp, born in 1913, is the eldest daughter of Baron Georg von Trapp. Agathe, her siblings and parents formed the famous Trapp Family Singers, which inspired the popular film, The Sound Of Music.This famous movie was based on books written by Maria about their lives and experiences from her perspective, which - of course - the movie producers had creative license with. After reading Agathe's memoir, Memories Before And After The Sound Of Music, interest for Maria's books will likely increase once again.

When I took on this project I reminisced to my husband about the bonding moments I had with my mother because of the movie; he went out and promptly rented the DVD from our local store. I think it is wonderful that the movie has survived all these years and can still be found on movie rental shelves. Memories Before And After The Sound Of Music is likely to experience similar success, simply due to how dear the family's story has been to the masses.

The book is written as a non-fiction account from Agathe's memory - as such, readers will see the changing times through the eyes of the eldest daughter of the family. Perhaps due to the fact that Agathe was a young adult at the time, the story does not include the causes of the turmoil. Her bitterness seeps through here and there - and at times, I got the impression that she had once harbored unpleasant feelings towards Maria and the movie producers, which seem to have healed. Agathe's child-like adoration of her biological parents is apparent in their heroic and greater-than-life portrayal - but then, perhaps they really were like that.

Readers will find that Agathe's book will travel farther back in time, before Maria entered their lives. The biography follows through to what happened after their escape and clarifies common misconceptions. I found it surprising that Agathe was 25 when the family left for America - the only "children" during the escape were those recently born from Maria.

Though this family's story is definitely and inspiring riches-to-rags story, one cannot deny that this well-connected family certainly did not suffer like their countrymen. Isolated castles and mansions, pristine lakes and mountains, private farms, fully staffed estates... no, this was certainly not suffering, by any account. However, the war left the family with nothing but the loyalty and love of their fans and friends. This was enough for them to survive Ellis Island, find a home in America, record albums, go on tours and establish a successful music camp - which is operating today in Vermont.

As a fantastic bonus, the center of the book contains over 30 pages of photos of the family starting in 1875 through to images of the family today, including one shot of the next Trapp family singing group.

~ Book Reviewer: Lillian Brummet - co-author of Trash Talk, a guide for anyone concerned about his or her impact on the environment - author of Towards Understanding, a collection of poetry. ([...])
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on 4 February 2014
I have not quite finished this book yet but have been fascinated when reading it. The author is the eldest daughter of Captain Georg Von Trapp - and written from her memories. I have also read a similar book written by Maria Augusta Von Trapp (her step-mother) and whilst similar in many ways they give the view point of the two people. Have thoroughly enjoyed reading both books and would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the true story which The Sound of Music film is based.
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on 6 April 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as I find the true story far more interesting than the film. After reading the first two books written by Maria von Trapp and enjoying them, I was pleased to find this one which is a prequel in essence. It is well written by Agathe and includes many family photographs. For anyone who likes reading biographies and history books it is well worth purchasing.
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on 23 November 2016
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