The Library Lady's Reviews > Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 29, 2016

it was ok
bookshelves: adult-biography

This book suffers from schizophrenia. It is subtitled "The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr", but Rhodes does not manage to smoothly incorporate the two.

Having done a pretty good job on Lamarr's early life, he abruptly switches to the life of her co-inventor George Antheil. And while Antheil may have been a heckuva interesting guy, we don't need to hear about the ups and downs of his life as a composer, details about Sylvia Beach's "Shakespeare and Company" store and his life in Paris among the jet set or his relationship with his wife, much less long passages from her memoirs. His work with mechanized pianos IS important in his connection to Hedy, but again, we don't need all the details. Isn't this book about Hedy?

When we do get back to Hedy, Rhodes skims over her life at the time and gets straight to her invention. What follows is endless pages of background and technical jargon to delight any engineer as much as the initial half of the book would bore them--being about Hedy's life. It became so convoluted that all I could do was skim it and try to get to where it really explained what was going on--and it didn't.

Rhodes then jumps over most of the rest of Hedy's life--he mentions her divorcing her third husband, later tosses in something about "six divorces' and never details anything about that, then moves on to the end of her life, what happened to Antheil (again, more than we needed and I don't really care about the cute little anecdote about his wife and his son talking about the "old days") and other related stuff.

Hedy Lamarr was a fascinating person and for years her achievements were downplayed in favor of her life as an actress. The material here is terrific.But Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize or no Pulitzer Prize didn't put it to good use. He has a feel for the technical, but not the flair for people that this book needed. Poor Hedy's been shortchanged again.
22 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Hedy's Folly.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/29 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by M (new) - rated it 3 stars

M Nice review. Considering the amount of space given to Antheil, I was surprised that he got no mention in the overblown title and no subject heading.

Peta Just finished and completely agree with your comments. I don't feel as if I know much more about Hedy than I did before I started which is such a shame.

Carmen Great review, I agree with your statements. I was so sick of reading about George. I didn't even like him.

back to top