A legend in her own time


Malevolent Muse – Alma Mahler

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

There is no doubt that Alma Mahler indeed led a dramatic life.  Not only was she married to the composer, Gustav Mahler, the architect, Walter Gropius, and the author, Franz Werfel, but she had affairs and flirtations with numerous men, many of some distinction.  Everywhere she turned, she rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous.  The list of those her life intersected with is quite mind boggling.

However, she was a deeply troubled woman who had severe problems in her relationships with not only the many men in her life but also her family and children.  She would fluctuate, sometimes on a daily basis, from loving someone to hating them.  The fascination of this book lies in that dichotomy.   There are many quotes throughout the book in her own words taken directly from her diaries.  And those words could often be so callous as to be truly shocking.  Those who met her were either bewitched by her or repulsed by her.

The author has done a wonderful job of putting this book together and attempting to work out exactly who this colorful personage was.  The research done was meticulous and he’s written a very interesting book.  Not only are you treated to reading about a fascinating life, but you also will have much insight into the lives of Mahler and Werfel and the intellectual scene of that time.  I’m glad I read the hardcover edition of this book rather than a digital version since it’s full of interesting photos that wouldn’t have shown up well on my e-reader.  The book itself is beautifully bound.

While you may not end up having much admiration for parts of Alma Mahler’s life, the fact that she created such a legend in her own lifetime is a masterpiece in itself.

I won a copy of this book on LibraryThings with the understanding that I would give an honest review.


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