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3.62  ·  Rating details ·  490 ratings  ·  129 reviews
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
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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3.62  · 
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 ·  490 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it

Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt is a 2018 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication.

This story is a fictionalized accounting of composer and pianist Alma Schindler’s life during the period she was married to famed composer Gustav Mahler. As a condition of her marriage, Alma promised her husband, she would give up her own music and channel all her passion for music through his compositions and successes, which eventually takes her down the path of depression and melancholy, and into the arms of another ma
Elyse Walters
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Let’s raise our glasses to Alma Maria Schindler, Fran Zuckerandl said, who has turned the rest of us poor women emerald with envy. Not only is she the most beautiful girl in Vienna, and that’s quite bad enough, she’s also a brilliant pianist. That’s infuriating. But on top of it all, she composes!”

Alma’s mother was pregnant with Alma ‘before’ she married her famous painter father, Jakob Schindler. She tells Alma that she ‘had’ to get married. Alma was in love with a man named Alex Zeminsky - a
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 alluring stars to Ecstasy! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

(Last vacation review, I promise! 😉)

In college, I had a poster of Klimt’s painting, The Kiss, hanging on my dorm room wall. It was sultry and magical. My love for art and art history was sparked by my beloved high school art teacher. I think she saw a lack of confidence in me, and in retrospect, I feel she took every opportunity to bring that out. I yearn for books about art as a result, especially in my favorite genre, historical fiction. All of that to sa
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
I saw the movie Mahler by Ken Russell a couple of years ago. Well, it's so many years ago that I don't really remember much about it. But, it was my first introduction to Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma. So, when I saw that there would be a book about Alma Mahler was I instantly interested. I was thrilled when I got a copy of this book to read.

Just think of what Alma Schindler could have achieved if she was born decades later when a woman could be much more than a wife and a mother. She dreamed
Read more reviews like this, plus fascinating author interviews, exclusive guest posts and book extracts, on my blog:

Alma is beautiful, passionate and independent-minded, fond of poetry, drama and literature and a talented pianist. She also shows a talent for composition and harbours an ambition to be recognised as a composer of her own music. However, she is prevented from following her dreams by the constraints of society and the expectations placed on
Amy Bruno
Dec 20, 2017 marked it as to-read
Author Mary Sharratt on Blog Tour for ECSTASY, April 10-May 18!
Audra (Unabridged Chick)

I knew, from the previous novels of Sharratt's that I've read (the astounding Illuminations and fascinating The Dark Lady's Mask ) that I would love Ecstasy -- even though I feared the story of Alma Mahler's life would frustrate me. However, I should have trusted that Sharratt would somehow manage to make me not just enraptured of/with Alma but also the people in her life, including the frustrating Gustave Mahler.

Alma Schindler is beautiful and clever, growing up in Vienna's glittering world
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Author Mary Sharratt has a mission: " Writing women back into history." In 2012 she focused on 12th-century Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen in ILLUMINATIONS, showing us a woman expected from a young age to submit herself quietly to God but who refused to lose her identity completely and was a composer, herbalist, mathematician and feminist of her times. In 2016 I read THE DARK LADY'S MASK about Aemilia Bassano Lanier, writer and poet, believed to be William Shakespeare's love and an unrec ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ----

Well, the cover isn't bad, & the prelude was good. Struggled to get through the 1st chapter. Unconsciously started hard skimming the thing somewhere after the middle of the 2nd chapter, & gave up during the 3rd chapter. I set it down after the 1st chapter hoping it would be better when I came back to it, but obviously that didn't pan out.

I hate the protagonist. The writing was unclear & tedious. I also didn't real

Kris Waldherr
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read an advance copy of this and loved it. I've been fascinated with Alma Mahler every since I first learned of her life years ago—ECSTASY captures the romantic intensity of Alma's life. Bittersweet and compelling. More to come closer to publication.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, dnf
Dnf @ 26%

Unfortunately this was too heavy on the romance for me to enjoy it. I can’t stand to read about talented women who only talk about men, men, men.

I understand Alma was young and maybe a bit naive but she had like 5 possible love interests in the first 25% of this book. Maybe calm down? She just ended up looking confused and unsure of herself as an artist.
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I saw Stephanie @ Bookfever’s book review of this one, and knew I had to read it for myself as well! It didn’t hurt that this book had such a beautiful cover (many thanks to the publisher for the gorgeous hardcover!) and that it is a historical fiction about a historical figure I hadn’t heard anything about before. Learning through reading is one of my favourite things to do.

Alma, the main character, has a very strong female voice. I would really say that feminism is one important theme in this
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I jumped on reading this book because of the author before I knew anything at all about the book. I’ve read several of Ms. Sharratt’s books and enjoyed them so I was excited at the prospect of a new one. When it arrived and I read the synopsis I was intrigued. I will admit to knowing nothing about Alma Schindler Mahler and very little about her husband, Gustav. So I will admit that I did some googling and I listened to both of their compositions while I read the book. I felt that was appropriate ...more
Linda Zagon
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My Review of “Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt

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
Christie Sitterly
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary Sharratt’s Ecstasy is a compelling novel that immediately entrances the reader into the life of Alma Schindler. Alma is a talented fledgling composer in Vienna in the early 1900’s. Her parents wish to marry her off to a man that meets their standards while Alma searches for a passionate love in the music world. She meets Gustav Mahler, a well-known composer and they have a whirlwind romance. However, he requires that she give up all aspirations of becoming a published composer. The book det ...more
Adrienne McDonnell
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to imagine a more glorious subject for a biographical novel than the passionate and spirited composer Alma Mahler. Since receiving an Advanced Reader Copy, I've been engrossed and mesmerized by Alma's story, reading it in the wee hours of the night. What a character, what a life, and what a book Mary Sharratt has created!
Julianne Douglas
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seeking to supplement a famous man's public persona with intimate detail, authors of historical fiction often choose the man's wife to narrate his story. It's not often that the woman herself has the potential to rival her husband's brilliance, but such is the situation Mary Sharratt explores in her latest novel, ECSTASY (HMHBooks, April 2018). Written from the close third-person perspective of Alma Schindler Mahler, wife of composer Gustav Mahler and a gifted composer in her own right, ECSTASY ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Ecstasy" is the story of Alma who has played muse to many men that you may have heard of: Walter Gropius, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, among others. Although her story has often been in the liner notes of the lives of these great creators, Alma was fascinating in her own right as the author shows. This is a fascinating story that sucked me in!

You may have heard me say this before but one of the things that I like about historical fiction the most is that it often looks at people and their lives
Kate Baxter
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a tragic, challenging and difficult life was had by Alma Schindler Mahler, wife of famous composer and conductor, Gustav Mahler. She was born into a Viennese bourgeois family. Her father was a renowned landscape painter and her mother, an opera singer. With such artistry in one home, how could Alma avoid her own artistic leanings? She was a bright, stunning young woman, a skilled pianist and an aspiring composer. Her first composition teacher did not encourage her. Her second did but may ha ...more
James Martin
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary Sharratt's novelization of Alma Mahler is as rich as many of the characters therein. Alma longs to follow her passion for music but the times and attitudes of most of those around her hold her back. Marrying Gustav Mahler, a leading composer and conductor of the day, complicates her life in dozens of ways, as well. The lavish setting of Vienna with its well-heeled, colorful characters~albeit with myriad flaws in both people and mores of the era~plays out a bit like a film, replete with char ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the life of Alma Mahler née Schindler, married to Gustav Mahler, Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel, all three creative geniuses. Who was Alma? A daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, composer, femme fatale, muse? Certainly a complex woman ahead of her time who defied convention to find her own voice.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I really enjoyed the book as a light and easy read, however it didn't seem special to me in any way. Yet I do believe that if you go into the book with some prior knowledge or interest in Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel, any other big names in the book or music history in general - you would certainly be able to get way more out of this book than I have.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
This was okay. Alma is written as an overly melodramatic person - constant hand wringing about wishing she were a man so she could enjoy everything that men are allowed. Overwrought as well about her feelings of passion she wanted to act upon, again wishing she were a man to do so. So it was an okay story, it's writing was too "overly" done for the most part - if that is making any sense.
Stephanie (Bookfever)
Oh, to sense the heights. To be a mountain. To be great and expansive, bursting with potentiality.

I signed up for the blog tour of Ecstasy because the synopsis sounded incredible and right up my alley. In the last year I've become really intrigued with books set in the early 20th century, especially if the setting is in Vienna and if the story revolves around a real woman in history like Alma. She definitely wasn't a perfect character. She had her flaws and problems but even so I hadn't expect
Jill Meyer
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
How many people reading this review of Mary Sharratt's novel, "Ecstasy". remember the work of a singer-songwriter popular in the 1960's named Tom Leher? He wrote satirical songs about famous people and events, one of whom was a Viennese temptress named Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel. His song about ASMGW became one of his best known because the woman behind the song led such an interesting life - full of music, art, and writing...and sex. Now Mary Sharratt's novel dishes on Alma-of-the-man ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
At the outset, Ecstasy showed a lot of promise. I was intrigued by the tale of a young, ambitious woman wanting to do away with the expectations placed upon her and follow her passion. Having studied the work of Gustav Klimt, and in the process become somewhat familiar with his contemporaries in the art world, I was eager to dive into the time period and learn more.

Unfortunately the tale of Alma Mahler (nee Schindler) was anything but atypical. She succumbed to the pressures of her position and
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
Review & giveaway on my blog:
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
alma! we! love! you!! as a woman composer myself this was such an inspiring read. alma was so strong and so insanely passionate, it's a shame to see the way historians reduce her to the seductress, the femme fatale. she was so much more than that - i'm glad this novel could shine some light on her lovely and fascinating life story :0)
Jenny Q
May 23, 2018 marked it as to-check-out
Q&A with Mary Sharratt @ Let Them Read Books!
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gustav Klimt wanted to paint her, wanted to claim her body, as she was proclaimed one of the most beautiful girls in Vienna. Steeped in early 20th century gender bias, we see the beginning of a bohemian lifestyle for artistic women. Having fallen in love with Alex von Zeminsky who was giving her counterpoint lessons, she was forbidden by her parents to marry a Jew. However, it was Gustav Mahler, who was a successful composer and director of the Viennese Court Opera and Jewish as well, who claime ...more
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2018.18: Ecstasy 1 20 May 05, 2018 04:34AM  

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Mary Sharratt is an American writer who lives with her Belgian husband in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed 2010 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 medic
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