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The Only Woman in the Room Reviewed by C.A. Gray of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
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Dateline: Montreal, QC
Friday, January 12, 2024

 

C.A. Gray

C.A. Gray is abestselling author of YA trilogies with a focus on blendingscientific concepts like quantum physics and neuroscience.

Heraction-packed stories avoid graphic content but don't shy away from high stakes.

Aside from writing, she practices naturopathic medicineand hosts a podcast.

In her spare time, she enjoys crafting,listening to audio books, and studying the Bible.

View all articles by C.A. Gray

Author: Marie Benedict

ISBN: 978-1492666899

I picked up this book byword of mouth. It was good, fascinating that it’s a true story…but with some drawbacks. I sort of wonder how much is true and howmuch embellished…


The story follows thewomen who would come to be known as Hedy Lamarr, famous Hollywoodbeauty. She was born Hedy Kiesler, a Jew in Austria pre-WWII. She wasa stage actress, and caught the eye of Fritz Mundel, known later as“the Merchant of Death.” 

He was an arms dealer who sold weaponsof war to the highest bidder, and it was believed at the time that hewas courting Hedy that he was the only one standing between Hitlerand Austria, with ties at that time to Mussolini. 

Hedy’s fatherconvinced her to marry Fritz, and she was actually enamored with himduring their courtship too… but very quickly after they married, hechanged, and started treating her like a piece of meat.

Here was where I startedto wonder what was true and what wasn’t. I had thought the titlereferred to the fact that Hedy was able to eavesdrop on Mundel’sguests and later report what they’d said once she’d escaped toAmerica, but the bias of the author suddenly made me aware of anothermeaning: she is alone in a man’s world. 

It’s not at all hard tobelieve that Fritz Mundel would have been a monster, would have rapedhis wife, would have been horribly jealous, but also would want toshow off her beauty. 

Women certainly were treated much worse backthen than they are today. That said, it was clear that this was afeminist’s take on her life, which cast all the horrible treatmentof her into question.

I already knew the storyinvolved not only Hedy’s flight to America from her abusive husbandafter it was clear that he was going to align himself with Hitlerafter all, and also her debut in Hollywood. 

Throughout the book upuntil that point, it references her “scientific ideas” that shetinkers with from time to time, though this is always verynon-specific. It isn’t until Hedy feels guilty for the fact thatshe absconded from Austria without alerting any of the other Jewsthat she decides that she will come up with an alternative,radio-frequency based torpedo that is far more accurate andunjammable, and use it to help the allies, with the view ofshortening the war. She enlists an unlikely ally in this process, acomposer, because of his ability to think outside the box. 

When sheand George submit their brilliant plan for a patent and to the Navyfor implementation, they use the name Hedy Kiesler rather than HedyLamarr, to avoid rejection due to her fame and beauty. When it’srejected anyway, they appeal… only to discover that it wasrejected, “because she is a woman.” I have a hard time buyingthat as the sole reason. I just feel like there had to be more to thestory, and the author’s obvious intense bias leads me to besuspicious of that conclusion.

That said, it was still afascinating biography.

My rating: ****

Language: I think therewas a little?

Violence: present but notgratuitous

Sexual content: presentbut not gratuitous

Political content:depending on your perspective, possibly heavy

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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