My Review of “ECSTASY” by Mary Sharratt

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About the Author, Mary Sharratt

ABOUT MARY

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Mary Sharratt’s explorations into the hidden histories of Renaissance women compelled her to write her most recent work, THE DARK LADY’S MASK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016), based on the dramatic life of the ground-breaking poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier.

Born in Minnesota, Mary now lives with her Belgian husband in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, which recasts the Pendle Witches of 1612 in their historical context as cunning folk and healers.

Previously she lived for twelve years in Germany. This, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write her award-winning ILLUMINATIONS: A NOVEL OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN, which explores the dramatic life of the 12th century Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau.

Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Gold Award, the 2005 WILLA Literary Award, and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Mary has also written the novels SUMMIT AVENUE, THE REAL MINERVATHE VANISHING POINT, and co-edited the subversive fiction anthology BITCH LIT, which celebrates female anti-heroes–strong women who break all the rules. Her short fiction has been published in Twin Cities Noir and elsewhere.

Her newest novel ECSTASY, exploring the life of one of the most intriguing women of turn-of-the-century Vienna, will be published on April 10, 2018.

Mary’s articles and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Minnesota Magazine, and Historical Novels Review. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually riding her spirited Welsh mare through the Lancashire countryside.

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More:

Fairy Tales for Women: Writing Exercise
By Mary Sharratt
Through a Dark Forest: On Fairy Tales as Women’s Stories and on Writing Summit Avenue
By Mary Sharratt
Summit Avenue Author Uses Fairy Tales to Break Through Clichés
By Mary Ann Grossman
Moments of Enchantment (at strangehorizons.com)
By Christopher Cobb

fullsizeoutput_2c61IMG_1662.JPGMy Review of  “Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. April 2018

I loved everything about the Historical Fiction novel “Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt. The timeline for this story is the turn of the century, when the various forms of the arts show changes.  The story goes to the past and to the future when it pertains to the characters or events. The story takes place in Vienna, Austria, Europe, and and New York

Mary Sharratt describes her characters as complicated and complex. Many are talented and artistic in many ways. This is a time where passion can be seen in art, music, theater,  opera  and dance. There are a few courageous and brave women that are able to break through in the male dominated arts.

Alma Schindler has been brought up in a talented household. Her father was a famous painter, her stepfather is also an artist, and her mother was an opera singer.  From an early childhood, Alma has played the piano. Her passion for composing music shows as she enters young adulthood. Alma turns many heads when she goes to the Opera house. Unfortunately, it is a time where a young woman is supposed to get married and have responsibilities with her family. Alma wants so much more. She wants to learn more about rhythm, counterpoint and wants to compose an opera.

Although Alma wants to compose, she also wants to love and be loved. How can Alma share her compassion for anything but music? Alma is impressed by  Gustav  Mahler, and soon becomes his wife. Gustav Mahler has made it clear, there is no place for Alma’s composing in their life together.

I appreciate the way that the author describes the feminist spirit in her writing. She also writes about the balance of being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and a composer. I would recommend this story for readers of Historical Fiction. I received an ARC for my honest review.

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ECSTASY BY MARY SHARRATT

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover & eBook; 400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary

 

 

READ AN EXCERPT.

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER & EBOOK:

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | INDIEBOUND

ALSO IN AUDIOBOOK:

AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION

Praise for Ecstasy

“In ECSTASY, Mary Sharratt plunges the reader into the tumultuous and glamorous fin de siècle era, bringing to life its brilliant and beguiling leading lady. Finally, Alma Mahler takes center stage, surging to life as so much more than simply the female companion to the brilliant and famous men who loved her. Sharratt’s portrait is poignant and nuanced, her novel brimming with rich historic detail and lush, evocative language.” – Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress

“A tender, intimate exploration of a complicated woman, Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY renders in exquisitely researched detail and fiercely imagined scenes the life of Alma Mahler — daughter, wife, mother, lover, and composer — and the early 20th Century Vienna and New York in which she came of age. I loved this inspiring story of an early feminist standing up for her art.” – Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Race for Paris

“Evocative and passionate, ECSTASY illuminates through its tempestuous and talented heroine a conundrum that resonates across the centuries: how a woman can fulfill her destiny by being both a lover and an artist.” – Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

“Mary Sharratt makes a triumphant return to the page with this masterful portrait of Alma Mahler, the wife of the famous composer Gustav Mahler. Set in a time and place when a woman could only hope to be the power behind the throne, Sharratt brings a meticulously researched and richly illuminated account of a young woman who was a brilliant composer in her own right. Alma may have had to suppress her own talents to support Mahler; however, ECSTASY reveals that she was a woman who “contained multitudes.” ECSTASY is an important work of historical fiction, as well as a timely and topical addition to the canon of knowledge that needs to better represent important women and their contributions.” – Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books

“Alma Mahler’s unexpected, often heartbreaking journey from muse to independence comes to vivid, dramatic life in Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY. Sharratt skillfully evokes turn-of-the-century Vienna and the musical genius of the era, returning Alma to her rightful place in history as both the inspiration to the men in her life and a gifted artist in her own right.” – C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel

“Mary Sharratt has more than done justice to one of the most interesting, shocking, and passionate women of the 20th century. Overflowing with life and lust, ECSTASY explores this flawed but fascinating woman who was not only muse but a genius in her own right.” – New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose

“A deeply affecting portrait of the woman rumored to be the most notorious femme fatale of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY is as heartbreaking and seductive as Alma Mahler herself.” —Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens and Bad Princess

 

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About the Author

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Her novels include Summit Avenue, The Real Minera, The Vanishing Point, The Daughters of Witching Hill, Illuminations, and The Dark Lady’s Mask.

For more information, please visit Mary Sharratt’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

 

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