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Marrying Mozart


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About the Author

Stephanie Cowell is the author of Nicholas Cooke: Actor, Soldier, Physician, Priest; The Physician of London (American Book Award 1996), and The Players: A Novel of the Young Shakespeare. She is also the author of Marrying Mozart, which was translated into seven languages and has been optioned for a movie. Visit her at and


Long before Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart married Constanze Weber, his musical and personal life was intertwined with her family. In Cowell's fourth historical novel (after Nicholas Cooke, The Players, and The Physician of London), Sophie, the youngest of the four Weber sisters, shares the story with an English biographer visiting Austria. As she recalls events from 60 years earlier that reveal how the sisters influenced Mozart's music, readers are drawn into a world rich in music but poor in material goods. Herr Weber ekes out a living by giving music lessons and performances; his weekly gatherings assemble famous and aspiring musicians, including Mozart. While the elder daughters, Josefa and Aloysia, both possess wonderful singing voices, it is Aloysia, with her remarkable beauty, who wins the public's adoration (not to mention Josefa's jealousy). After Herr Weber's early death, Frau Weber schemes to marry her daughters into wealth, but her harsh demands drive the family apart. Because Mozart's family depends on his earnings, his father blocks early marriage, a delay that costs Mozart Aloysia and haunts the composer for years. Cowell vividly brings to life not only the Webers and the Mozarts but also dozens of minor characters and their era. Fans of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring will relish this exploration of family demands and the creative drive. Recommended for all public libraries.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Former opera singer Cowell, whose previous novel (1997's The Players) explored the apprenticeship years of a callow Shakespeare, turns her eye to the women in the life of a young Mozart in her fourth graceful and entertaining historical. Music copyist Fridolin Weber and his socially ambitious wife, Marie Caecilia, have four daughters-bookish and devout Sophie; quiet Constanze; beautiful, silver-voiced Aloysia; and headstrong Josefa-whom they struggle to keep in hats and hose. Though the freethinking girls may wonder about the benefits of marrying well vs. marrying for love, Caecilia, whose family once had money, is terrified of growing old a pauper. Pinning her hopes on her prettiest daughter, 16-year-old Aloysia, Caecilia aims for a Swedish baron as suitor (though she keeps a list of backups in a notebook). Aloysia falls in love with the young Mozart, however, who happily returns her affections, though he, too, wonders about marrying better to support his father and beloved mother. But when the Webers move to Munich from Mannheim, Caecilia's hopes for good matches begin to dim, as Josefa takes a married lover and a pregnant Aloysia runs away with a painter who, along with Mozart, had been boarding with the family. As Mozart progresses in his career, he has relationships with the other Weber sisters, too, and falls alternately in and out of favor with their bitter old mother. Told through the recollections of an aging Sophie, the tale is as rich and unhurried as 18th-century court life. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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