Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser

Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser
Copyright 2006
Bethany House - Historical Fiction
331 pages

What led you to pick up this book? After reading Washington's Lady, I wanted to read more by the author.

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending. Mozart's Sister is a literal title. It tells the story of Wolfgang Mozart's only living sibling, Nannerl, from about the age of 10 until her father's death, with a "Coda" (or epilogue) about the end of her life. I'd never heard this, but Nannerl was every bit as talented as her prodigious younger brother. However, because she was female, she traveled and played with her brother for a limited time and then was expected to help keep house until marrying.

What did you think of the characters? They were all fascinating. I love reading about different time periods and enjoyed visualizing life from the perspective of the sister of Mozart. Nancy Moser writes wonderful notes on her research, at the end of each book, so you get a good idea just how much is fictionalized and how much is real. I love that. I actually often flip to authors' notes before reading a book and, in the case of the notes I've read in Moser's books, they haven't contained any spoilers. They just help to fill things out a bit and give you an even better feel for the real-life characters.

Describe your favorite scene: I loved the scene in which Nannerl returns to Salzburg to visit her son Leopold (who lived with her father, for a time) and her true love, Franz, showed up. The interaction between Franz, Nannerl and the little one was charming; so was the way Papa Mozart put little Leopold to bed.

Recommended? Absolutely.

In general: A quiet, slower-paced book -- and yet very eventful. I think the one thing that really jumps out at me when I read fact-based historical fiction is the rampant disease and high infant mortality rates. Like Juana the Mad in The Last Queen, Nannerl experienced a lot of illness and grief, yet she had some amazing life experiences.

Cover thoughts: I've become weary of the chopped-off-head covers, but that lovely dress looks quite similar to the actual dress in the portrait of Nannerl inside the book's opening pages and the little boy playing in the background adds appeal. It's not my favorite, but I like it.

Next up: A review of Bedlam South by David Donaldson and Mark Grisham.
Addendum: I opened a gmail account, this week because I thought the yahoo spam was just getting out of hand. Some days I wake up to as many as 60 new spams. And, I have to fish perfectly decent mail out of the spam box. But, suddenly, I've gone low-spam at my yahoo mail. And, I'm thinking . . . I feel lonely. Something is not right about that. It's possible I need to get a life.
Wishing you all a terrific weekend!


  1. Oh this sounds very cool. I haven't read a good historical fiction in a while...

  2. This looks terrific. I definitely want to read it.

  3. It's very good. I think maybe I need gather some books so they can sneak off to new homes.

  4. Lonely for spam?? Awww, c'mon. That's crazy!

    But... I do know what you mean.

    The book sounds great. And I agree. What's with the chopped off heads??

    I hope you have a terrific weekend!


  5. CJ,

    I know. Weird. This has just not been my best week, though, and you know how the silliest little things make you feel off when you're already down? I think that's all it is. I have real people I owe letters --- no right to complain. :)

    Who knows where that chopped-off head trend began and why! At first I kind of liked it. I could understand the concept -- showing the time period without a face leaves more to the reader's imagination. But, I do think it's been done to death.

    Thanks, you too!

  6. gmail is great! I love my gmail.

    The books sounds good, thanks for the review.
    Cut off had covers, good spotting.

  7. Raidergirl,

    So far, I like the fact that I get nothing but real mail with gmail. It's a little perplexing, but I'll figure out the details.

    The book is very good. I think the cut-off heads are getting old!

  8. Not sure why but I don't really get spammed much on my yahoo mail. My dad really wants me to have gmail though. I already have my school email and yahoo. I don't want to have to keep up with another and I heard if you have a google blog that all your stuff(comments) goes to gmail with no other options. I wonder if that is true?

  9. I know what you mean about headless covers. The dress is pretty though. :-) This does sound good. I haven't tried this author before, but I will definitely give her a try.

  10. Anonymous1:47 PM

    When you pine for spam, I think you need to get out. Go to Italy, say! Be lonely in a place where you can't speak the language but the scenery is new to you and lovely.

    Mozart's Sister looks intriguing. I had no idea he had a sister, much a less a talented one. Women. We are so subjugated.

  11. Have their been a lot of chopped off head covers lately? It seems like the Gregory books kind of lean that way. Not sure if this really my type of book but it certainly sounds good.

  12. Hi there -- I just came across your website, and as a fellow book lover, I was wondering if you'd consider checking out mine at I'm a new novelist -- my books are in the same genre as Jennifer Weiner and Marian Keyes -- and I'm hoping to get early feedback from people who truly love books.

    P.S. I love your post and photos of the cats!

  13. Brittanie,

    I don't have my comments sent to my mail, anymore (I used to get notification when a comment needed approval, but I realized I was going to my blog often enough that it just meant more mail to delete), so I don't know if you have no option but to have your comments sent to gmail, once you've opened a gmail account. I have three emails, now, and yep . . . kind of hard to remember to check every single one of them, every day!


    They're getting a little old, but I can see the point of the headless cover -- your mental image of facial features isn't based on that of a model. That's the one thing I really like about them.

    I've really enjoyed the author, so far; I definitely recommend giving her a try. I've also got a copy of her book about Jane Austen, which I hope to get to very soon.


    You're right. Italy sounds good. Hmm, I think I'll go update my passport info, in a minute. I hadn't considered that kind of loneliness. :)

    Yes, poor us. Subjugated, abused, misused . . . and our most famous women just can't pick out a decent eyeglass frame. It's just not right.

    I knew nothing about Mozart's talented sister till this book. Nancy Moser visited Mozart's home and that's where she found out about Nannerl and got the idea to write about her.


    Chopped-off head covers have been pretty common for the past couple of years, particularly in historical fiction. I kind of liked them, at first, but it does seem like they've gone a tad overboard. On the other hand, there are so many books being published each year that it can't be easy coming up with new cover art concepts.


    Thank you! I'll be glad to drop by your website to check it out.

  14. This sounds really good. I didn't know Mozart had a sister, talented at that, either.
    LOL on the chopped head covers, they are a bit too commonplace now.

    As for Brittanie's question, as far as I know you can have your comments for moderation and stuff sent to any email you like, just change it in the settings.

    I've used gmail since I started the blog though, seemed easier to have all google stuff in one place. And I do love getting follow-up comments in my email because I never remember where I left comments to go back and check for replies.

  15. I think that this sounds really good. Nice review!!

  16. Nat,

    I think Mozart's sister had faded into the background, except perhaps in Salzburg, where her history is still known. The author learned about Nannerl whilst visiting the Mozart home.

    You know, it hadn't occurred to me that I might actually be able to receive those follow-up comments from other blogs, now. In spite of the fact that I put a new address in the little box, Blogger would never update my address, but the gmail address is now showing up as my follow-up comment address. Yippee! A problem solved! I'm forgetful, too. ;)


    I really enjoyed Mozart's Sister and I've decided it's a good one to pass on, so watch for a giveaway post!

  17. I like historical fiction partly because it encourages research! Another enjoyable aspect of historical fiction that appeals is taking a little known historical character and looking at the time period from a contemporary (even if imaginary) point of view. Love the idea of examining events from the sister's pov.

  18. Oh those chopped-off head covers... I'm over those. Glad the book was a winner though :)

    I love Mozart's music and had heard that his sister was very talented. I am definitely adding this one to my list!

  19. Jenclair,

    That's one thing I love, too -- the fact that historical fiction makes us curious enough to want to learn more. Sometimes I wonder if tossing in fiction, now and then, and discussing the differences between a fictional retelling and real life would make history more enjoyable for some students. I liked history, but I never got much out of it in school. It was all dates and names, battles and lists -- never any stories that put things into perspective.

    I love the way Nancy Moser wrote this book, from the perspective of Mozart's sister. Had she been a side character, I don't believe it would have meant quite as much. Also, now I'm ready to hop a plane to Salzburg. :)


    I waffle on those covers. The chopped-off heads are tiresome because they're so overdone, but I do like the fact that not showing an entire face gives the reader a little more room for imagination. In fact, Nannerl was not particularly pretty and to show a model's face would truly distort reality.

    I love Mozart's music, too. It would be wonderful to travel back in time to hear the two of them playing together!

  20. Anonymous7:59 AM

    You are an amazing reviewer. I now want this and I want Bedlam South, too. sigh

  21. LOL! I'm an enabler! Thanks, Care. :)

  22. Hmmm - 2nd one by this author that you've liked. They both sound interesting. I agree about the chopped off heads - I don't like to have an actor or a book cover interfere with my own visualization of a character, but the trend has just been so overdone over the past couple of years.

  23. Hi Suzi!

    Yep, 2nd one I've liked. Her historicals are slow-paced, but the character development is so awesome that I left both books feeling like I knew the protagonist.

    Yep, head-chopping has been way overdone. That's one of the reasons I've started to critique covers. They're just as interesting as the content, at times.


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