Book Review: The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
by Maria Augusta von Trapp

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Memoir

Though many know the story told in the popular musical & movie The Sound of Music, most probably don’t know the true story behind it. This is the book that inspired Rodgers and Hammerstein to write the musical, and there are some similarities, but also some large differences. The book also goes on to cover the Trapp Family’s lives in America after they fled Europe, an event which takes place within the first 40% of the book.

Overall, I found it fascinating to read about the true story behind a movie I watched so very many times all through my childhood, and plenty since then, too, even leading my own daughter to fall in love with it. It is very easy to read and follow what is going on. I enjoyed the times the author tells about her halting English in a way that seems very real, even while the entire book is in English. I love the way the family works together in all things, not just their singing career, each one using their talents where they can be most useful. I also appreciate the author’s instinct to attribute everything to the will of God, doing quite a few things she didn’t really want to do, because she had good reason to believe God wanted her to. I should add that I don’t agree with, and at times even understand the need for, some of the theology the author believes in, but the foundational beliefs of trusting in God for every aspect of one’s life is important.

We can find a word of caution for our own lives in these pages, as the family watched Hitler come to power and take over their country years before WWII started. The children were told at school that their parents were “nice, old-fashioned people who don’t understand the new Party,” and that they shouldn’t tell their parents what they learned at school. This is beginning to happen to some degree today as well, with some areas wanting to cut parents completely out of the decision-making for what goes on at schools. Once they start trying to keep what the kids are learning at school secret from the parents, it should be a huge red flag!

The book did feel like it dragged a bit in the 2nd half, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. It may have simply been that the story of how the family’s concert career grew and they bought their farm wasn’t as interesting to me as the rest. Overall, though, I’m glad I read this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the movie and wants to know the true story or anyone interested in memoirs about life during and after WWII (especially from those who are from countries directly affected by the war).

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