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A Woman of Note

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  393 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and J ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading Carol Cram’s newest book, “A Woman of Note.” Unfortunately, the book turned out to be a bit too one note – and off-key at that.

The book’s premise holds promise. Virtuoso pianist Isabette Gruber lives in Vienna in the 1830’s. Not only is she among the most talented performers of her day, she is also a gifted composer. However, no publisher will consider her pieces since she is a woman, so she submits her pieces under a pen name to much critical acclaim. Many of th
Clare O'Beara
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Classical music fans will be fascinated by this tale. A virtuoso pianist in Vienna is secretly composing her own works, but cannot compete with Schubert when it comes to gaining publication. A young man who is a hopeful composer and piano teacher, arranges to teach the lady so he can get her to perform his works. But he doesn't realise that she is a better composer than he.

The locations include concert halls, a Schubertiade (piano evening in a grand house), the inside of the first mental asylum
I've read several reviews that said A Woman of Note was boring, but I personally did not find it to be boring in the least. Perhaps it was the beautiful writing, or the steadily building suspense between Isabette and those around her, or perhaps it was Isabette being a source of light and innocence in a cast of characters that were, more often than not, less than sympathetic. I agree there were a couple of flaws, but nothing that made me want to set the book down. In fact, I read this in a few d ...more
Glenda Griffin
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Woman of Note

Carol Cram has written an enchanting novel on the struggle of a female pianist/ composer in the 1800s, even though the character was fictional the struggle was real. I am thankful for the strong passionate women that proceeded me, and I regret they were subjected to the men's inferiority complex that needed to belittle women to make them feel big. Only true genius can appreciate another genius without prejudice. Thank you Ms. Cram.
nikkia neil
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Very cool historical fiction. Loved that a woman finally gets some credit. Girl Power!
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-review, arcs, e-book
This review originally appeared on my blog,


I really wanted to like A WOMAN OF NOTE. Although I’m not into classical music, I do enjoy historical fiction about women artists of any type. I hoped this book would remind me of THE PASSION OF ARTEMISIA by Susan Vreeland, or COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, as Isabette Grüber faces the same struggle: succeeding in a male-dominated world.

Isabette has minor success as a virtuoso pianist. Most of her life has been devoted to practice an
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Woman of Note transports the reader to the nineteenth century. It vividly portrays Vienna’s coffee houses, elegant salons, and cutthroat world of performing arts. From the first scene where Isabette Grüber appears, flushed and out of her depth, she enchanted me. Isabette is physically plain, overly tall, and a gifted pianist and composer. But she is a prisoner of social convention. Her talent is strictly controlled.
Both her mother and her manager ride her coattails. Their livelihoods depend on h
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows Isabette Grüber as she struggles to make a name for herself in a male dominated profession, and shows how she fights to achieve her dreams. Not only does she play beautifully, but she also wants to compose music which is almost unheard of for her gender.

Her sister and father both were committed to an asylum, where her father died. That leaves her and her horrible mother (in my opinion). She befrien
Donna Hinkley
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A woman of note was a book I couldn't put down. Vienna is beautifully described and all the musicians that the author talks about is wonderful. I know quite a bit about music and this book brought back the beauty in totally loosing yourself in a passion of the arts. Isabette is beautiful in all her innocence, but when push comes to shove she can hold her own. I would read this book again with no reservations. ...more
Yashari Glenn
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good from start to finish

First time reading from this author and I thought this book was beautifully written. I loved the way she intertwined music with life itself. Must read.
Ginger Pollard
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The characters have some funny moments. Reminds me of a Mary Balogh book, whose books I find delightful.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I listened to this one on Audible. I think I may have enjoyed it more if I had read it. The narration put me off a bit. However, the story itself was ok. Isabette is a sympathetic character, a strong woman at a time when women weren't supposed to be strong, a clever, talented woman who rose above her station to be exceptional. However, those around her sought to drag her up or down at their own whims. Sometimes the annoyance of the other characters dragged the narrative in ways that didn't feel ...more
Anne Brown
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in the early nineteenth century, this is the story of Isabette, a virtuoso pianist and composer. At the start of the novel, Isabette is nineteen and living with her mother, one of the most miserable creatures ever. All Isabette’s mother thinks about is money and the only way for her to get money is for Isabette to perform. For that, Isabette needs a manager and so we meet the creepy Herr Dietrich. From that point onwards, Isabette is used and abused by a string of people who only see what sh ...more
Glynis Whiting
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Woman of Note is a page-turner. The protagonist, Isabette, is an unusual and fascinating character. Her physical stature plays into the story in a manner that is so believable and compelling. I immediately sympathized with the challenges she faced as a woman in that time period. Although it is set in the early 19th century, it felt immediate in its emotional grip.

The story gave me a new perspective on how a passion, such as music, can fill other voids.

This is the second in the trilogy and I
Debra Robert
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best (Historical Fiction) books I've read in a while. I couldn't put it down and finished it quickly. It opens with Beethoven's funeral and talks of many of the famous composers in Vienna. It is a story of a young girl growing into a woman. It so clearly depicts her struggles as a woman in the 1800's, her friendships, loves and career. I don't see any way this book would disappoint. I felt like I was there listening to her playing the piano. ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This historical fiction was interesting but predictable. The central character exists in the 1800s when the music scene was exploding with creativity. A time dominated by the men; Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and women were thought to not have the ability to excel in this sphere. She struggles to be accepted not only as a performer but as a composer and artist.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book!

As a woman who can't carry a tune in a basket, the technical musical details were beyond me. However, I loved the character development, the relationships' development, the adventurous, if tenuous, exploration of lesbian love . The hopefullness at the end contrasts very well with the anguish and pathos of the beginning and middle. Great Read!
If I knew more of music, I would have enjoyed this even more than I did. Oh, I recognized the names of composers that Cram included, but the details--over my head. None the less, Cram opens a window into an incredibly rich period in music and the situations of women during that period.

There was a bit of the romance novel about this, but not so much as to spoil it for someone like me.
Pamela Underwood
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
In preparation for our river cruise up the Danube, I read this novel about a young woman concert pianist and composer from Vienna. It held my interest because of how the brilliant female mind was exploited in the past. Not unlike the movie "the wife" of current day. It was a good read, if a bit slow. ...more
Mary Carver
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of a womans place in society .
The information about composers of the time and the historical details were so interesting .

I really enjoyed this book and would like to read more.
Jane Macintyre
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story of Vienna and its music
Sandra Krueger
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read book for music lovers.

I loved the travel and music references. This was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It had a good storyline.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Sometimes I get so caught up on a topic that I immediately start hunting down books. This time it was piano fiction. Turns out there’s not much in the way of adult fiction but if you’re a kid who wants to see how fun piano can be, well, there’s plenty of books for you, my friend.

A Woman of Note was about the only book I could find of interest in my extensive search. Unfortunately it left me craving more piano fiction!

Isabette Gruber is a young pianist on the rise. With Beethoven’s recent passin
Kelsi H
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Please read more of my reviews at!

In early nineteenth century Vienna, there was an explosion of new music, performers, and composers. The styles were new and modern, yet the profession was still dominated by men. Isabette Gruber is born into this world, and as a virtuoso piano player, she is seen as a threat to all of the men around her. Even Isabette’s mother is resentful of her passion and of her eventual success, essentially telling her that she must either
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram is a historical novel set from 1827 through the 1830’s. Isabette Gruber is a pianist in Vienna. Isabette is nineteen years old, very shy, and seriously lacking social skills (she is also tall and thin). Her father (who taught her and her sister, Joanna to play and compose) passed away. Her sister, Joanna has been committed to the asylum by their mother, Frau Marta Gruber. Isabette is the sole bread winner. Marta Gruber has hired Herr Gustav Dietrich (nasty lech) ...more
Andrea Stoeckel
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
[ I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising]

“You can’t listen to people who tell you that something is impossible"

This is the story of Isabette Gruber Hauser, a fict
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon Gardner
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book is a wonderful look at love, friendship, music, and heartbreak. It is set in Vienna and a little bit of Paris thrown in there, during the late 1820's, early 1830's. It is based around "the music business" at that time. A look how men rule that business and women sit in the background. Unless the women and girls are so good their fathers, husbands and not so savory teachers and managers use these females for their own gain. Our two main characters are teenage girls. One is from Vienna w ...more
This is my first time reading Carol M. Cram, though I do have her first book, The Towers of Tuscany waiting patiently on my tbr pile.

Beginning in 1827 and continuing in the 1830's here is the story of Isabette Gruber a pianist living in Vienna. Though this book is not based on a real historical figure the book felt like it did. As a multi talented Isabette struggled through life she encounters many obstacles in her way, a dominating mother, insane family members, a society that doesn't take wome
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Isabette Gruber is an accomplished pianist and composer in Vienna in the 1800's at the height of Vienna's musical awakening, the book opens with Beethoven's death and the emergence of Isabette into the midst of the music community.
I did not care much for this book despite the musical themes. I found the characters unlikable, underdeveloped and tiresome. None of them were ever happy inspite of getting what they wish for. It seemed as if when one wish were granted, it was never enough, sadness and
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Carol M. Cram is the author of four novels including her latest "Love Among the Recipes", a contemporary novel set in Paris.

"Loaded with wit and charm, Cram's ... fabulous jaunt through the City of Light will leave readers breathless and longing for more from Cram. - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Cram has also written three award-winning historical novels about women in the arts. "The Towers

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