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Betsy Kerekes reviews a behind-the-scenes book about the real Sound of Music story.

Maria Von Trapp and Her Musical Family by Cheri Blomquist is a book for younger readers, maybe 5th grade and up, but is still enjoyable for adult fans of The Sound of Music, Maria, and the rest of the Von Trapp family. The primary theme, carried throughout the book, and a wonderful lesson for children, is that in difficult times, God always comes through for us.


Maria von Trapp book


Maria’s life started rough. She was born on a train, delivered by the conductor, then lost her parents at a young age. She lived in relative happiness with her aunt until a tyrannical uncle, given charge of her in her father’s will, beat her without cause. This particular chapter was hard to read. It’s not graphic or gruesome, but it’s just so sad and awful to imagine happening to a poor 11-year-old girl.

The next part of the story was unexpected, having assumed the would-be nun was on a holy path her whole life, but, because of her uncle’s behavior, Maria lost her faith. What struck me as enlightening about this period, was that she was mean and miserable. This was an interesting lesson that those who have decided to abandon their faith become more selfish and unhappy, at least in Maria’s case. A liberal college furthered this misguidance until a friendly, patient priest turned everything around despite Maria’s prideful determination to prove to him that there was no God.

Then came, to me, the most delightful part: Maria decides while hiking to join a convent. She hastens down the mountain to Salzburg, Austria, where her next problem is (are you ready for this?) determining which of the many convent choices therein, she should join. Oh, what a problem to have! But her quandary is solved by none other than a monk, in full habit, walking down the street, who tells her that the most austere convent is Nonnberg Abbey.

Now, loosely followed in the movie, a series of events “coincidentally” unfolds that leads Maria to becoming the next baroness Von Trapp. That the author spends time in Georg’s head, giving us his interpretation of events, is a nice touch.

Thanks to Hitler taking over Austria, the Von Trapps’ cozy lives are fraught with one great challenge after another. Several times, when feeling truly abandoned by God, He comes through for them in the most spectacular, often last minute, ways.

Much of the book takes place post what we learn from the movie. For anyone who wants to hear the rest of this fascinating story, this book is for you. I also appreciate that there are mini bios of all the major players (and houses!) at the end in a section called, “But what about …”

For any parents or children who may wonder what God is doing in their lives, if anything at all, this story demonstrates God’s constant fortitude and guidance. In other words, it’s a reminder that He always has a plan.

Highly recommended!


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