The Only Woman In The Room
By: Marie Benedict
Opening Line: “My lids fluttered open, but the floodlights blinded me for a moment.”
Overall: This novel is a fictional account of what Hedy Lamarr’s life might have been like, based on the actual events in her life. The book starts in Vienna, Austria in 1933, when Hedy was a young woman. She is a stunningly beautiful stage actress who catches the eye of Friedrich Mandel, a rich and powerful arms dealer. She is encouraged to marry him for the protection he can give her as a Jewish woman from the rising Nazi invasion that is sure to come to Austria very soon. She lives a privileged, glamorous life with her wealthy and influential husband. She hears a lot of Nazi plans when they entertain these powerful men in their home. Hedy’s husband is very controlling and she is very unhappy and wants to escape her life. She flees from their castle to London in 1937 and meets the head of MGM Film Studios. She starts her life over again in America as a film star. However, she has to change her name and hide the fact that she is Jewish. She became a huge Hollywood star, often referred to as the, “Most Beautiful Woman In Film”. But, she was more than just beautiful, she was smart too. She tries to help many people still back home get to safety in America. Also, she knew a lot about the Nazi secrets from her time in Austria. So she decides to try and help America with the war effort, and she starts designing a new sonar torpedo system. She got her new idea patented, and she brought it to the War Department in Washington. They refused to use her ideas. But later they stole the ideas from this smart and beautiful woman who they would not take seriously, and used her innovative sonar-hopping idea without giving her any of the credit.
Ovations: I love books about Old Hollywood! I love watching old movies from the 1930’s – 1950’s. So, I was already familiar with Hedy and her movies before I read this book. I loved that this book was a novel, instead of just a biography of her life. I can always read facts about her life, but I liked imagining what her life might have actually been like for her as she was living it. I learned a lot about what her pre-Hollywood life was like for her back in Austria that I did not know before. I love that Hedy was a strong, smart woman, as well as being beautiful and sexy. Her beauty was both her savior and her curse. Also, personally I like that on the cover you can only see a small portion of her beautiful face. Her beauty was so unique, no one looked like she did, and fans will know her face only just seeing that small part of it.
Oh Well: I wish there would have been a lot more focus in the book on her invention. I would have liked to know a lot more about the struggles she had inventing it. I would have also liked to hear more about her efforts to get her patent, and her encounters with the Government trying to get them to use her invention. The fact that she was an inventor along with being a gorgeous actress was an important point in the writing of this book, yet ironically I felt that part of her story was not given enough attention.
Opinion: If you love Old Hollywood and know about Hedy Lamarr already then I think you will enjoy reading this book about what her life would have been like. If you are not familiar with Hedy, then this book will just be an interesting historical novel for you to read. After reading it, maybe it will inspire everyone to watch one of Hedy’s old films? I suggest one of my favorites, Come Live With Me (1941). Rating: 7 out of 10