Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography, Review

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An AutobiographyMemories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography by Agathe Von Trapp, pbk, 2010.

Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography is the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, made famous through the movie/musical The Sound of Music. Told  from the point of view of Agathe, the oldest girl and 2nd oldest child, she shares her experiences of what it was like to grow up in the Von Trapp family.

As stated in the title, the story begins long before "Maria" enters the picture. In fact, it begins with how Agatha's first mother met her father, fell in love, married him and together raised their growing family--a child approximately every 2 years.

She talks about her happy childhood when they were living with her Grandmother during WWI in the Austrian Alps on a lake, while her father served as a submarine captain.

Especially interesting was to learn how little remarks can have a profound effect on a child, like her governess talking to her about God, as they were out taking a nature walk.

Sometime after the War, the children and then her mother came down with Scarlett fever. Sadly, her mother died, leaving behind 7 children who loved and missed her dearly.

At a later date, "Maria" entered the picture. Agatha's father eventually married her, even though she was much younger. The story continues up to 2002 with Agatha sharing her happy memories of her family sailing with their father, touring around the world as a singing group, the development of the lodge and summer music camps and the need to breakup the musical group, so they could develop their own talents. The book includes many private family photos.

In seeking to correct the many inaccuracies of the movie/musical, Agatha brings to light a moving portrait of a wonderful childhood from another era. Even though there was great strife in the world throughout her childhood and young adult life--World War I, World War II, starvation, economic insecurites, her mother losing all her inheritance through a bank failure, political instabiliy, etc.--, we see a family that values the beauty and joy of children, willing to sacrfice through hard work and ingenuity to give their children a warm and loving family life.

The story is a stark contrast to the empty values of modern society. Agatha's story is a refreshing reminder that life is never easy, but it does have purpose. The sacrifices and loving attention of the parents are returned a hundred fold to the parents through their children's love and devotion. From the opening pages its hard not to miss Agatha's loving adoration of her parents--not because of things, but because they loved their children, they inspired their devotion. May we as parents inspire such devotion and love. Memories Before and After the Sound of Music: An Autobiography is a heartwarming story that you will find inspiring as well as hard to put down.

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