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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Autobiography of the eldest von Trapp daughter, 8 Jan. 2009
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This review is from: Agathe Von Trapp: Memories Before and After the Sound of Music (Paperback)
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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Location: United Kingdom

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