In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna, one womans life would define and defy an era Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as one of the very few magical women that exist. But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time the center stage. Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand-new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse....
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At the outset, Ecstasy showed a lot of promise. I was intrigued by the tale of a young, ambitious woman wanting to do away with the expectations placed upon her and follow her passion. Having studied the work of Gustav Klimt, and in the process become somewhat familiar with his contemporaries in the art world, I was eager to dive into the time period and learn more.
Unfortunately the tale of Alma Mahler (nee Schindler) was anything but atypical. She succumbed to the pressures of her position and ...more
Seeking to supplement a famous man's public persona with intimate detail, authors of historical fiction often choose the man's wife to narrate his story. It's not often that the woman herself has the potential to rival her husband's brilliance, but such is the situation Mary Sharratt explores in her latest novel, ECSTASY (HMHBooks, April 2018). Written from the close third-person perspective of Alma Schindler Mahler, wife of composer Gustav Mahler and a gifted composer in her own right, ECSTASY ...more
I knew, from the previous novels of Sharratt's that I've read (the astounding Illuminations and fascinating The Dark Lady's Mask ) that I would love Ecstasy -- even though I feared the story of Alma Mahler's life would frustrate me. However, I should have trusted that Sharratt would somehow manage to make me not just enraptured of/with Alma but also the people in her life, including the frustrating Gustave Mahler.
Alma Schindler is beautiful and clever, growing up in Vienna's glittering world ...more
Dnf @ 26%
Unfortunately this was too heavy on the romance for me to enjoy it. I can’t stand to read about talented women who only talk about men, men, men.
I understand Alma was young and maybe a bit naive but she had like 5 possible love interests in the first 25% of this book. Maybe calm down? She just ended up looking confused and unsure of herself as an artist.
Author Mary Sharratt on Blog Tour for ECSTASY, April 10-May 18!
I received an advanced reading copy of this title via NetGalley for an honest review.
This novel oozes with passion. Passion for music, life and love. The author provides us with a glimpse of society life in Vienna and the dreams and expectations of those living it. I cannot remember reading a book that so successfully exhibited the emotional turmoil in a character. As the novel progresses, there was a distinct shift in Alma's personality once she made the decisions that would define her life. Al ...more
I really, really enjoyed Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt. It documents just over a decade of Alma Maria Schindler's life, from her first kiss with Gustav Klimt, her romance with Alexander Zemlinsky, through her courtship and marriage with the brilliant if dogmatic Gustav Mahler, and the first of her love affairs. Alma's life is not necessarily a happy one - in fact, the twelve or so years we spend with Alma are frequently unhappy. Sharratt does a great job of bringing her to life in these pages - her v ...more
5 alluring stars to Ecstasy! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
(Last vacation review, I promise! 😉)
In college, I had a poster of Klimt’s painting, The Kiss, hanging on my dorm room wall. It was sultry and magical. My love for art and art history was sparked by my beloved high school art teacher. I think she saw a lack of confidence in me, and in retrospect, I feel she took every opportunity to bring that out. I yearn for books about art as a result, especially in my favorite genre, historical fiction. All of that to sa ...more