Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Only Woman in the Room” as Want to Read:
The Only Woman in the Room
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Only Woman in the Room

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  6,318 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews
She was beautiful. She was a genius. Could the world handle both? A powerful, illuminating novel about Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy Kiesler is lucky. Her beauty leads to a starring role in a controversial film and marriage to a powerful Austrian arms dealer, allowing her to evade Nazi persecution despite her Jewish heritage. But Hedy is also intelligent. At lavish Vienna dinner parti
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Sourcebooks Landmark
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Only Woman in the Room, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lovey Not sure it is a misinterpretation
It is fictionalized and there are parts of the story that don’t exactly mesh with others . I was disappointed…more
Not sure it is a misinterpretation
It is fictionalized and there are parts of the story that don’t exactly mesh with others . I was disappointed honestly. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,318 ratings  ·  1,215 reviews

Sort order
Kylie D
An inspiring book about a remarkable woman. This is a fictionalised account of screen siren Hedy Lamarr, known for her beauty, but not recognised until recently for her outstanding contribution to science. The first part of the book is set in pre-WW2 Austria, where as an aspiring actress she is forced into marriage with a notorious arms dealer. As the trophy wife she is privy to many dinner parties and clandestine meetings between powerful heads of state, and with her amazing intelligence she ta ...more
Katie B
3.25 stars

This is the third historical fiction book I have read by the author and while I did enjoy this one, I thought it had some flaws. I don't normally use quarter stars in my ratings but this is a case of knowing I rated the other books at 3.5 stars and feeling like this one wasn't quite at that level but also wasn't really a straight 3 stars either. So 3.25 stars is where I landed.

Prior to reading, I'll admit I didn't know much about the subject of this book, Hedy Lamarr, other than she w
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 brilliant stars to this story of Hedy Lamarr!

I read and enjoyed Carnegie’s Maid, and I have been looking forward to reading Marie Benedict’s latest fictional portrayal of a strong woman. In this instance, she has written about Hedy (Kiesler) Lamarr.

Born Jewish, Hedy Kiesler later finds herself an actress married to an Austrian arms dealer. Hedy is able to use her powerful position to avoid Nazi persecution. At the same time, her husband is controlling and difficult, and one evening in 1937,
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Published Jan 8, 2019

I put off reading this book because I could not bring myself to read another WWII Nazi book. I kept waiting to be 'in the mood' to read this one. Finally, three days after publication, I started the book.

Even with my reluctance to read this book, I thought it started off at a pretty good pace. I knew that I liked the author and her style of writing, so I gave myself over to t
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted so much more from this book. Hedy Lamarr was a brilliant, fascinating woman and while Benedict hit the highlights of her life, that's all she did—hit the highlights. This is a biographical novel that fell short on the "novel" side. Perhaps Benedict was wary of embellishing/fictionalizing too much of the life of someone about whom so much is known, but it resulted in a novel that was a bit flat. Another fifty to one hundred pages to add texture and detail to the incidents depicted or to ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hedy Lamarr was both stunningly beautiful and stunningly smart. But could the world handle both?

May 17, 1933, the beautiful Hedwig Kiesler is on stage performing the role of her life in Vienna, when she captures the attention of the richest and most powerful man in Austria. Arms manufacturer, Friedrich Mandl lavishes dozens and dozens of roses on the young actress after every performance. Hedwig soon finds herself married to Friedrich, living in a castle and attending lavish dinner partie
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
What should have been a fascinating story suffered from boring writing. Also, the whole point was to show how Lamarr was a multi-faceted woman — inventor, actress, etc. — but the majority of the book is about her clothes, looks, and acting. Occasionally, it’s mentioned that she read a book about physics, but not much else is given to help us understand her scientific side. A disappointing book about a fascinating woman. 2.5⭐ ...more
Excellent! Highly Recommend! First half a little more than the first, but a fabulous historical, biographical-novel all the same. I enjoyed it immensely. So much so, I had planned to attend the B & N National Bookclub. Unfortunately, my disabled hubby's health has taken a turn for the worse. Thus, this review, and most all reviews in the future until otherwise noted, will be short and concise.

Hopefully, quotes to come...

FIVE ***** Enthralling, Addictively Captivating, Historical/Biographica
This is a novel based on the life of Hedy Lamarr (1904-2000). She was primarily known as an actress, but she was also an inventor. She developed, along with George Antheil, a radio guidance system for torpedoes. The navy did not implement her system until the 1960s. She also developed the principle of Bluetooth technology. She also had patents for various microphone and sound systems innovations. She had many patents in her name. She was a Jew and fled Austria ahead of the Nazis.

I found Hedy’s
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marie Benedict has introduced me once again to a fascinating historical figure. This excellent novel begins in the early days of newly appointed chancellor Adolf Hitler. It showcases the life and vast accomplishments of beautiful and intelligent Heidi Kiesler (aka Hedi Lamarr). An incredible and surprising life story that begins when as a young actress, she catches the eye of wealthy Friedrich Mandl, the renowned ‘Merchant of Death’ and Austria’s richest man. His charm during their whirlwind rom ...more
Terena Bell
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book isn't bad, but it also isn't good. I'm also baffled as to why this is being published in January (according to the back of my Book Expo ARC), because it's an obvious beach read -- and is written as such. The author presents a cursory overview of actress Hedy Lamarr's amazing life and, in such, makes it utterly un-amazing. THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM moves through events too quickly. For example, Lamarr's custody battle for her son takes one sentence. As a result, the character never dev ...more
Jenna Bookish
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark, Booktrib, and The Girly Book Club for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 


"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
-Hedy Lamarr

The Only Woman in the Room is infinitely engaging, but woefully brief, coming in under 300 pages. Hedy Lamarr, a Jewish woman who married and Austrian arms dealer and eventually fled Europe during Hitler's
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I should have looked more closely at this title, because I thought that I was picking up a biography instead of historical fiction. I found it disappointing. The author's attempt to reflect Hedy Lamarr's thoughts and experiences was lackluster and oddly repetitive. Interesting details from Hedy's life as a film star and a self-taught scientist could have filled out the story, but did not appear. At the end I'm left wanting the biography I thought I was choosing.
Hedy Lamarr had an amazing life, and was much more than a beautiful actress. She lived with her Jewish family in Vienna when Hitler was threatening to invade Austria. She married an older, wealthy man, Fritz Mandl, who manufactured munitions. During her marriage she overheard conversations between military and political leaders from Austria, Germany, and Italy. They were unguarded in some of their conversations because they only saw her stunning beauty, and didn't realize she also had a brillian ...more
Ashley Withrow
Jan 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF at 20%. I just can't with this. I picked this up as it was the Barnes & Nobel monthly book club selection.

This is just rubbish. I am surprised at how many high-starred reviews there are. I got to 20% of this book and we had only just gotten Hedy married off. With only 200 or so pages left this thing is just lingering on the less interesting parts/made up parts of Hedy's life.

But my biggest problem here - with as far as I've gotten - is the sheer amount of this book that is focused on r
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Only Woman in the Room was a well written glimpse into the life of Hedy Lamarr. From her marriage to an Austrian arms dealer before World War Two to her career as an American movie star, she fought to become more than just a pretty face. Marie Benedict’s research into her life shines through! A must for historical fiction fans!
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Hedwig Kiesler is a young wealthy Jewish girl living in Vienna. She longs to be a famous actress but also is interested in science. Her father encourages her to pursue both. She is just gaining respect as an actress when she meets her biggest fan, Fritz Mandl. Mandl has quite a reputation with women and as an Austrian arms dealer. But Hedwig’s parents are concerned about the developing hatred for Jews and believes a marriage between Hedwig and Fritz will save them all. Once Hedwig marries Fritz, ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hedy Lamar was best known as a Hollywood bombshell. But there was so much more to her story than her rise to stardom.
Born in Austria to Jewish parents, she lived a comfortable life in an upper class neighborhood. It was Hedy's (Hedwig Kiestler) dream to be an actress since she was a young girl. She landed the role of Empress Sisi and in her first performance she draws the attention of Fritz Mandl, a wealthy munitions manufacturer. Encouraged by her parents, she agreed to date and later marry Fr
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookreporter-com

There is nothing new under the sun. It was true in the Third Century B.C. when the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote it and it is true in 2018.

And one of the perennial truths is that women are valued for their beauty and preyed upon for sex and must fight for equality in their vocations and avocations.

Take Hedy Lamarr, the gorgeous Austrian born star. Marie Benedict's new historical fiction novel The Only Woman in the Room peels back the Hollywood-packaged icon of female physical perfection and of
Megan Lyons
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
I just found this generally underwhelming. I used to read a lot of historical fiction, but over the last couple of years I feel like every time I read a historical fiction novel, I feel like it lacks the depth I am hoping for. I'm not sure if it's just the books I've happened to choose lately, or if popular historical fiction is getting lighter.

The protagonist of this book, although based on an interesting real life figure, just fell a little flat for her. I feel like she lacked true emotional
Camille Maio
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I finish a book and sigh at its amazingness, one of the first things I do is read its lesser reviews (there are always some) and try to figure out the disparity. As expected, there were few that were not glowing and those that were seemed to be disgruntled that there was so much more to Hedy Lamarr than what this book contained. The truth is, the woman was so fascinating that she could not possibly be contained in one book unless one wanted to read 700 pages. And that is rarely the aim of h ...more
Cindy Burnett
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Only Woman in the Room chronicles the long and accomplished life of Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Keisler), the Hollywood screen star from the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Austria to a Jewish family, Hedy attracts the attention of a high-ranking Austrian arms dealer and marries him to try to protect her family from Nazi persecution. After Austria is enveloped into Germany, her husband begins to work with high-ranking Nazis, and after a failed first attempt she manages to escape Austria and her contro ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am very picky about historical fiction; especially when the main character is a woman. The authors tend to add a lot of "sappy" material to make it appealing to women readers. I resent that and Marie Benedict avoided any unnecessary fluff. I knew absolutely nothing about Hedy Lamarr and enjoyed learning about her immensely. I like Marie Benedict's writing and will continue to read her other works.
Karen Kay
I received this from in exchange for a review.

A good fictional representation of Hedy Lamarr.

Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Kiesler) (1914-2000) was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. Her invention along with George Antheil wasn’t incorporated by the US Navy until the 1960s; the principles of their work are incorporated into Bluetooth technology. They were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

1933, Vienna, Austria

Hedy Kiesler is a successful actress, performing in Sissy, beloved Bavarian Empress Elizabeth, at the famed Theater an der Wien.

Friedrich Mandl
Suzze Tiernan
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is just what I love in a historical novel, a real insight into a person. Hedy may have been a beautiful actress, but she was also an intelligent and inventive woman, often held back because of the perception of women in her lifetime. I’m glad to have learned more about her.
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read The Only Woman in the Room in two sittings over a weekend. This fast-paced Historical fiction novel tells the story of actress Hedy Lamarr, from Austrian actress to the wife of an arms dealer with ties to the Nazi party, to Hollywood starlet and inventor. Most people only know Lamarr as an American screen star, but she invented what would become modern technology that we all depend upon today. Marie Benedict beautifully captures the strength and tenacity of a woman who was sought after be ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, unputdownable, beautifully written. Once again Marie Benedict has presented a well known historical figure and using her research skills fashioned conversations that ring true. Hedy Lamarr was a very well known film star, famous for her beauty and acting talents. She was also the possessor of a brilliant mind. Her father taught and fashioned her curiosity and ability to understand technical things. During world war 11 she, and another, devised a way to ensure correct torpedo targeting ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, arc, bt-e-book, fiction
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict features the fantastical life of Hedy Lamarr. A stunning Hollywood starlet, Hedy was so much more than just a pretty face. During a time when women were thought of as property and decoration, Hedy Lamarr rose above societal standards with an invention that transformed modern communication.

I really enjoyed reading The Only Woman in the Room! I had never heard of Hedy Lamarr prior to reading this book (I must live under a rock?), but I’m so glad I got t
Kristina McMorris
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An equally fascinating figure and read! Here's my quote from an early peek:

“In her latest novel, Marie Benedict deftly portrays the fascinating life of Hedy Lamarr, a Hollywood icon whose scientific accomplishments have long been eclipsed by her sensuous beauty. Moving from one volatile stage to the next, THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM follows a remarkable path of survival through the dangers of world war and those at home, behind closed doors. A read as intriguing and captivating as Ms. Lamarr her
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Glovemaker
  • Finding Dorothy
  • Temptation Rag
  • Woman 99
  • The Kennedy Debutante
  • Mistress of the Ritz
  • A Light of Her Own
  • American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt
  • The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
  • News of Our Loved Ones
  • Side by Side
  • My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin
  • A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts
  • Meet Me in Monaco
  • The Age of Light
  • Sundance
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • The Wartime Sisters
Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in History and Art History, and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. While practicing as a lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women -- an ...more