Friday Book Whimsy: The Only Woman in the Room

Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born in Austria with the advantage of being extremely beautiful. Her beauty, along with well-to-do parents, made life more comfortable — and safer — in the pre-World War II years when it was much better to keep her Jewish background a secret. Instead, she became a well-known actress with a Catholic background……

The Only Woman in the Room, an historical novel by Marie Benedict, tells the story of this woman who later became Hollywood leading lady Hedy Lamarr.

Her beauty and grace led her into the arms (and ultimately into marriage) of a high-level German arms seller with strong ties to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. She was convinced by her father that marrying such a man would keep the family safe. Though she originally loved him, it didn’t take long to see his jealous and controlling side. She began to quietly save money, and eventually escaped to Paris. The conversations she overheard as his wife, however, made her a valuable asset to the Allies.

She made her way to Hollywood where she became famous working for Louis B. Mayer. Her fame was responsible for her success in raising money for the war effort. Eventually, however, she became aware that the newest technology — radio-controlled torpedoes — could be easily jammed. Working with a friend, they came up with an invention that would prevent the jamming. Unfortunately, the U.S. Navy never took the invention seriously. She was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Lamarr’s story is interesting, and while I found the book somewhat dull in parts, I admit I enjoyed the history lesson. I recommend the book.

Here is a link to the book.

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