June 5, 2024

Book Review


The master storyteller, Michelle Moran, makes a phenomenal comeback with a surprising story of Maria von Trapp, who was glamorized in The Sound of Music. However, this story gives the stage to Maria, who tells her side of the story: a woman who was larger than life, knew what she wanted, and went after it.

The story begins with Maria already in NYC in the 1950s, confronting Oscar Hammerstein about the lyrics he wrote for a musical based on her life. As Maria expresses her concerns to Oscar’s secretary, she reveals her true story, more complicated and compelling than the glamorized version.

The narrative then shifts back to 1926 in Salzburg, Austria, where the nineteen-year-old Maria is a teacher at a convent. When this place becomes her home and the children her family, after two years, she is asked to take an assignment. It doesn’t make her happy to leave this homelike place, something she craved from her childhood, but she is promised it’s only for ten months.

When the war hero who lost his wife to scarlet fever asks for a teacher for his seven children, Maria is recognized as the best teacher. Thus, she is asked to take this assignment. The thought of taking orders from a man makes Maria shiver, and she drifts back to her childhood story, revealing why.

As the story moves backward, it reveals her traumatic childhood. With each page, dimensions are breathed into the rebellious character who seeks warmth and a family atmosphere. Despite Maria’s challenging childhood, her spirit remains joyful as she skips steps, climbs roofs, hops over chimneys, and tickles people to make them laugh—all seen as improper at the convent. What makes Maria stand out is her ability to sing and teach children songs.

At the von Trapp family’s villa, Maria’s spirit continues to shine despite the strict rules of aristocratic traits. She uses curtains to create dresses for the children to play in, something comfortable. They hike when it shines and sing inside when it rains. Within a short time, not only do the children get attached to her but also their father. The expected ten months turn into an unexpected lifetime with the von Trapps, but their happy lives are challenged by financial downfall, war, and exodus.

As it often happens in hard times, soulful music becomes a balm. That’s how the family faces challenges with music at home, which leads to an appearance at the music festival, sparking further interest and starting their tours and the legendary movie.

This is a deeply touching story of a remarkable woman who, despite life’s challenges, remains joyful and kind. Her youthful spirit is contagious, felt throughout the pages. With simple prose, this story takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and remarkable spirit.

Maria available at:

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