Jill (Newport RI)
I thought this book was just okay but not great. It started out nicely but was not engaging as I went through the chapters. It was challenging to get through as I was quickly bored with the writing. I also would challenge her choice of dialog, as some of the things she wrote seemed to be inconsistent with the period.
Trish (Hubbard OR)
The sacrifices Nanearl makes to insure Mozart's career were devastating, but seeing Nanearl rise above and be happy was satisfying.
Barbara (Kalamazoo MI)
Once I got past being annoyed that Nannerl's talent was stifled so that she could support her brother, I enjoyed this book. The writing is engaging and this was an "easy" read in that the reader really wanted to continue! I love historical fiction and getting a different perspective on historical figures is fun.
Wendy (Kalamazoo MI)
The Forgtten Sister
The story of Mozart's Sister is definitely the tale of the forgotten one. Rita Charbonnier's rich language brings this story to life and makes the reader experience Nannerl's pain. Being a male, her brother's success far overshadows Nannerl's equally impressive abilities. The account of how she handles this situation is an enjoyable one.
Janice (South Woodstock VT)
Mozart’s Sister by Rita Charbonnier (Crown) is the story of Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart, or “Nannerl,” to her family, who was like her famous younger brother a child prodigy. Unlike Wolfgang, with whom she was in childhood very close, Nannerl’s talents were quickly channeled into teaching, in lieu of composing and performing, to support her brother’s career. Unlike Wolfgang, she remained close to her domineering father and obeyed his wishes, even in her romantic life.
The premise of Charbonnier’s imaginative novel is that Nannerl resented her lot bitterly, that she struggled to repress her love of music, and that this denial of her gifts led to her estrangement later in life from Mozart. Charbonnier’s power of invention stretches further to explain the mystery of the Mozart siblings’ estrangement by having the self-centered, dissipated young Mozart trifle with Nannerl’s favorite student, who is the daughter of her first fiancée d’Ippold (whom in fact she renounced at her father’s insistence).
Charbonnier’s “interpretation” of the historical record, scant on this intriguing sister and brother, make for an extremely lively novel in the romantic tradition. Opening with her mother’s labor pains (and cursing) at a court performance as five-year-old Nannerl placidly receives accolades for her performance at the harpsicord, the novel flashes from one graphic scene to another, leapfrogging over months or decades in cinematic fashion, with frequently shifting viewpoints. It’s all vivid and melodramatic. Whether you like it or not will depend upon how much it troubles you when, for example, an 18th-century gentleman says, “Get lost!” And how much you want your characters to offer a convincing interior life.
Michelle (Wilton CT)
I was hooked on this story from the start. One of my favorite types of books are the ones that tell history in story format so you really enjoy learning about the past. This story was not a disappointment. I got a very good sense of Mozart's childhood and enjoyed learning a bit about his family life. His sister was a very stong character in her own right and the mix of fantasy & fiction kept me interested till the very end!
Peggy (San Diego CA)
Mozart's sister, Nannerl, was a very talented musician in her own right. If there had been no Mozart could this woman have taken his place?
The talent was there but females had one role in that time and it wasn't composing music, writing operas and such. All the advantages that Nannerl had before her brother's birth were lost the moment he showed his talent.
Charbonnier tempts us with love letters to start off and from there on this is a tale of passion, love, music, resentment, ambition and ego. Nannerl's love for her brother warred with her desire to have what he had.
She may have stepped back for her brother but I doubt she ever accepted fully the role she was cast in. Yet what a life it must have been and what dreams she had despite everything.
Written as fiction it incorporates real characters, real events and filling in between the lines of Nannerl's life to pose how it all might have been.
If you think you know Mozart's life, you haven't met his sister and heard her side of the story. This is a very bittersweet tale and well worth the read.