This is an account of the eventful and surprising life of Maria Von Trapp; a life full of remarkable changes of direction, from being a nun to being a loving governess and then a loyal wife and mother, from being rich to being poor, from being settled in Austria to being a refugee, from facing fear and hardship escaping the Nazi invasion to living in America and becoming successful singers. Throughout all these momentous changes she maintains her trust in God’s will as well as her charming and loving nature, and she is the rock her family leans on.
I enjoyed the description of Austrian life and its traditions and religious beliefs, which seemed quite comforting and touching, particularly the Christmas traditions. Maria is a very faithful and trusting person, and her faith in all the traditions are touching as well, although I couldn’t help feeling concerned that she is guided so completely by the nuns and unquestioningly follows their decisions as being of God’s will, as I felt she could easily be taken advantage of. However, the nuns dealing with Maria are honest and fully deserving of her trust and guide her in her best interests. I also thought Salzberg sounded like a beautiful place surrounded by mountains and stunning scenery, and which then made her description of Hitler taking over the area both fascinating and horrifying; fascinating as the reader can experience this part of history with her personal touch, and horrifying to imagine how they and other families were forced to accept Hitler’s arrival, to display enthusiasm by putting up flags and thinking the rest of the world believes this rejoicing is genuine, and the distress and almost bereavement they felt as their beloved Austria was renamed and everything changed.
I was full of admiration for how Maria kept so positive even in unimaginably difficult situations, and that she still managed to be grateful for what they had and not focus on what they had lost; she is able to firmly trust it is all God’s will and a lesson for them to take the opportunity to learn from, and that things will get better no matter how impossible this may seem at the time. I also liked her impulsivity and that she kept this even when a responsible wife and mother – at times I suspect her family may have despaired at the consequences of this impulsivity however, such as her remark at the airport or when she goes to an auction to buy a piece of furniture and comes back with a horse!
I felt a little frustrated at the way Maria glossed over her feelings for her future husband, as in the story all of a sudden they are married; I imagine her feelings for him would have been potentially overwhelming and quite scary, and that she must have had to wrestle with her emotions to choose between loving him and her future as a nun, and I would have been fascinated in her description of this time. I was touched by the loving and stable and close-knit family home they created however, with each member valued and respected and of equal importance. I loved the way the family are so united with all decisions discussed with all members, all jobs and responsibilities shared out and each family member encouraged to develop a skill that can help the family as a whole.
Maria’s is certainly a remarkable life and she is undoubtedly a remarkable lady.