A blog dedicated to my opinion on books

Friday, October 3, 2014

“Marrying Mozart” by Stephanie Cowell

Title: “Marrying Mozart”
Author: Stephanie Cowell
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2004
Genre(s): historical fiction, romance
Part of a Series: No

Why I read it: Not really sure. I found it when cleaning my room so it must’ve enticed me to buy it at one point.

Summary: An old woman, Sophie Weber tells an interviewer about her and her sisters—Josefa, Alyosia and Constanze—and their relationship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Reviews: I hesitate putting the “romance” tag to this. Because the romance does not drive the story. For a story called “Marrying Mozart,” there’s actually very little of Mozart courting the Weber sisters.

The main push is really the love story between the four sisters. Well, kinda. I doubt Aloysia actually can feel love and wonder if she’s really a sociopath. She’s definitely a narcissist—and her parents don’t help. They share Aloysia with attention and let her get away with things because she is beautiful and talented. And probably because she is the most like her mother, Maria Caecila. More on her later. Back to Aloysia…She is self-centered and only sees things in how they impact her. Aloysia berates her older sister Josefa and ignores Constanze and Sophie for the most part. And while Mozart did make her wait, she only thought of herself and not of his feelings.

It’s hard to determine what are spoilers as this is history. All one has to do is look up Mozart’s wikipedia entry for spoilers.

Josefa is more sympathetic than Aloysia, though she has her moments. But there were moments I was rooting for her to end up with Mozart. Just because I wanted something good to happen to her. Aloysia spews hatred at her. So does her mother. Most people overlook her in favor of Aloysia. Even Mozart, though he starts off being friendly with Josefa. But then he ignores her for Aloysia like everyone else. Only Sophie and their father seem to give a damn about her. It’s then hard to condemn her later actions. (Though I doubt we’re supposed to).

Sophie is the most sympathetic. Of course, she’s also the narrator as revealed in a few framing chapters. Anyway, Sophie is the one who tends to run interference between Josefa and her siblings or their mother. She has no interest in her mother’s matchmaking, wanting to join a convent. Sophie is sweet and has a sisterly relationship with Mozart, when he’s in the picture.

Constanze is just…there. She’s a nonentity for most of the book. It’s only for the last third of the book she becomes a character. Her relationship with Mozart is rushed.Cowell only tells us they spent time together and fell in love. She doesn’t show us. It’s hard to root for them.

Now their parents, Fridolin and Maria Caecilia. There are times Cowell insists they love each other but what she shows us is different. I see a couple held together by societal conventions and lust. Well, maybe Fridolin loves his wife. I don’t think Maria Caecilia loves her husband. I think she resents him and always imagined a grander life than she had. And may have married him out of desperation due to a secret learned later in the story.

Which brings us to Mozart. He’s probably the most intriguing character, right up there with Josefa. And probably because he was an interesting character in real life. He has big dreams but is haunted by his early success. In some ways, he’s like a child actor who struggles to transition to adult roles. He’s also a young man on his own for the most part. So he’s enjoying himself—with wine, friends and women. Namely the Weber sisters. He has relationships, some platonic and some romantic, with all four sisters.

But he also had struggles to do what he wanted and not what everyone else expected. He knows he can still achieve greatness but things continue to keep him down until he decides to do what he wants. And that’s a fascinating read.

Bottom line: Good novel about Mozart, not much of a romance.

Sex: Insinuations and implications. Nothing too graphic.

Moonlight Musing

Ever encounter a book that’s in the wrong genre?

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