With nearly 1,500 Broadway performances, six Tony Awards, more than three million albums sold, and five Academy Awards, The Sound of Music, based on the lives of Maria, the baron, and their singing children, is as familiar to most of us as our own family history. But much about the real-life woman and her family was left untold. Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America. Now with photographs from the original edition.
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.
Even with all the bad things that happen to them she was still able to describe it optimism. When they were living in Austria and lost all their money, she even told her husband how happy she was about that. Only now after they lost it all, could they see the true character of their children. Maria’s American friends told her that she must remember that they are now poor, Maria answered: “we are not poor, we just don’t have money.” She was right; people like the Trapp family can never be poor.
This book is so sweet and the Trapp family was so loving and warm hearted with each other, almost too good to be true. It seemed more like a fairy tale than a true story to me. This is a great read for days when you feel sad or just need to be cheered up.
This evening we look at The Story of the Trapp Family Singers which inspired the movie The Sound of Music.
At least once a day, I have to stop and marvel at being married to such a wonderful woman. I really am incredibly blessed, and the more I think about my wife, the more reasons I have to thank God for her. Thoughts like these tend to wander, and occasionally I find myself humming the words to that song from the movie The Sound of Music, where the Captain and Fraulein Maria sing about how they 'must have done something good' to deserve something - I think each other's love. This song is objectionable on several levels, one being that it sounds so much like a sappy song about 'Catholic guilt' for receiving such a blessing. "I am not worthy" and all that nonsense.
The other objection is that I know in my heart that I never, ever did anything good enough to deserve my wife. I don't think any man could say that if he is married to a good woman.
As a priest said to me once, I really married up.
The real story of the von Trapp family is far more interesting than the movie.
To begin with, there was no proposal under a canopy in the backyard, followed by a little singing and snuggling. Instead, Maria went back to the convent, since she still was under obedience to the superior of her order, and asked the nuns to tell her what to do. After prayer and reflection, they gave her the answer I suspect she did not want to hear: they told her to marry the man. There was no dramatic song about mountain climbing, sung by the mother superior while looking out the wrong window. The most dramatic moments in real life are usually made up of less exciting stuff, and are more beautiful for that reason.
In our own life, I proposed to my wife in the midst of an argument.
Another part of the book which I found inspiring is the death of the Captain. I really got the sense that these folks were Catholic by the way they prepared for the Captain's death. Maria and the Captain had agreed that if one of them were on his deathbed that the other would ask him a special question. The question, paraphrased, was:
"Do you accept death willingly from the hand of God?"
My wife and I have said this to each other now; once before she had her gallbladder removed, and again when I thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, neither one of us died, but it is a good thing to meditate on one's death, and how disposed one is at the moment of death.
What is a Flibbertigibbet?
I found this word(from the song 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?) in Shakespeare's King Lear. It is the name of a devil which was featured in 1603 in a book by Samuel Harsnett. The book was called Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures. This does not seem like the kind of word a nun(at least not an orthodox one) would ever use.
There are some reviews of the book that mention some stresses of touring and singing, and how things weren't as rosy as they were described in the book. Overall, I still recommend the book as a change from watching Julie Andrews singing her way around Austria.
So much more engaging, serious and interesting than 'The Sound of Music'! I remember loving all the historical detail of the times and Maria's authentic 'voice.'
I'm not sure if it'd still be 5 stars if I re-read today... but I do have Maria von Trapp's other book on my TBR... we'll see!