Marrying Mozart

Written by Stephanie Cowell
Review by Teresa Basinski Eckford

In 1842 Salzburg, Sophie Weber reflects on her family’s friendship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They first meet in Mannheim in 1777, where he falls in love with her sister Aloysia. During the years following, their paths criss-cross as the Webers and Mozart move from city to city pursuing their musical careers. Aloysia breaks Mozart’s heart, but the friendships endure. This, despite his parents’ best efforts to discourage his involvement with the Weber family. Though Mozart’s heart remains loyal to Aloysia, at some point he starts to see Constanze in a different light, leading to a new romance.

Marrying Mozart is Stephanie Cowell’s fourth novel. A singer herself, she brings a unique perspective to the story of Mozart and the Weber girls. Her elegant prose weaves a gentle spell that whisks the reader back to the 18th century. Mozart’s early career comes vibrantly to life as he struggles to make a name for himself while resisting following in the footsteps of his father, bound in servitude as church musician to the Archbishops of Salzburg. The Weber girls’ efforts to launch their singing careers are covered in equal measure.

Ms. Cowell’s recreation of the period is seamless and full of rich detail, while her central characters draw the reader into their stories. The various plots are woven into a tale that ripples along at an easy yet compelling pace. Occasionally we see glimpses of Sophie as she recites the tale, the lone survivor living on her memories.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best books I have read in the last year. Ms. Cowell does for Mozart and the Webers what Sandra Gulland did for Josephine and Napoleon. I highly recommend this enchanting novel.