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The Only Woman in the Room

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  34,403 ratings  ·  4,564 reviews
She was beautiful. She was a genius. Could the world handle both? A 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 parties, she overhears the Th
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Sourcebooks Landmark
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Donna The book is based on the real life of Hedy Lamarr. It inspired me to read more by the author. Yes Carnegie's Maid is a worthwhile read. As a fan of hi…moreThe book is based on the real life of Hedy Lamarr. It inspired me to read more by the author. Yes Carnegie's Maid is a worthwhile read. As a fan of historical fiction, I found The Only Woman in the Room to be fascinating. It has particular value because many of us knew her to be a beautiful Hollywood movie star. In reality she was also a very intelligent inventor. Although we were scheduled to book club this in March 2020, it's been shelved until when we can resume meetings again due to the Pandemic. (less)
Angie She was 19 years old when the story starts in 1933 and when she was starring in Sissy at the Theater an der Wien, and when she starts dating Mandl. Th…moreShe was 19 years old when the story starts in 1933 and when she was starring in Sissy at the Theater an der Wien, and when she starts dating Mandl. This was very clearly stated in the novel. She was born in 1914.(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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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
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
Aug 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Remarkable woman, unremarkable book.

I wish a different author had written this story.

Hedy Lamarr was not only a Hollywood bombshell starring alongside the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, but also a self-taught scientist who helped develop the technology we use in wireless communications today. In this book, however, details are glossed over in favor of schmaltz, the genesis of her scientific mind is buried and an intelligent and complicated woman is treated like a cardboard cutout i
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,
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⭐️
This is a novel based on the life of Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000). 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
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
♥ 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
Ashley Clark
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 rando
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. ...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
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
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
This is such a watered down story of such an intelligent woman who has changed the course of history through her inventions and ambition. To have such a complex woman with a life full of hardships and to only tell the story of her first husband and to continually recycle the same thoughts in her internal dialogue because this book basically is a regurgitation of her Wiki page does such a disservice to Hedy’s life.

I also did not enjoy how the author twisted the story of Hedy’s first son and fict
Karen R
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
Jenna Bookish
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
The Only Woman in the Room

This was an easy, and fast read for me. I’m intensely interested in early Hollywood, and so was quite ready for Hedy’s story. I thought.

I had no idea of her early romps that nearly sank her, and then the close years she has as one in the nazi leadership circles because of the wheeling and dealing of her husband. I was very impressed by her innovative way of escaping him and making her way to another life. In the story her ties to her Jewishness seemed to be lightly dea
Connie G
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m not so sure about this book and most likely it’s me...I expected more but found the tone of the writing to be a bit ‘flat.’ Again, most likely it was me!
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Actress Hedy Lamarr was far more than a pretty face and actress. Author Marie Benedict gives some life to Ms. Lamarr’s off-screen ambitions as a scientist and inventor.

Born Hedwig (Hedy) Kiesler in Austria, Hedy was educated at a “finishing school”. Her father included her in his scientific observations. Her mother was a professional pianist who was particularly harsh to Hedy, worrying that Hedy’s father was spoiling her with his educational interests. Hedy’s father encouraged her to be anythin
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
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
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 #33: A book about or by a woman in STEM

A woman of strong beauty and mind is reincarnated in Marie Benedict’s historical fiction come biography, The Only Woman in the Room. Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, who was known as the notorious screen siren Hedy Lamarr, is creatively pieced together by historical fiction specialist Marie Benedict, who reveals the personal history of this this actress and inventor’s colourful life. It is a rem
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I felt that this account focused 90% on Hedy Lamarr's beauty and 10% on her brains. It fell flat for me, but I had high expectations. While I found the novel unbalanced, the relationship Hedy had with her mother gave me food for thought- if it were not for some hurtful relationships, how would we know our own strength? Or would we prove to be strong without them? ...more
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Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a commercial litigator at two of the country's premier law firms. While practicing as a NYC lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women -- and finally found it when she tried her hand at writing. She embarked on a new, thematically connected series of historical fiction excavating th ...more

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