The Only Woman in the Room | Los Angeles Public Library

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BOOK REVIEW:

The Only Woman in the Room

Hedy Lamarr was one of the most beautiful people to ever grace the silver screen - but that beauty was a double edged sword. While it opened doors and made her a movie star, it was often the only thing people saw. Lamarr’s beauty was so striking that people often assumed that there was no more to the young woman they saw, but they were wrong. Lamarr was sophisticated, intelligent and gifted with a keen and creative understanding of science. In fact, she co-created a weapon that could have saved countless lives in WWII, if only the military brass of the day had been capable of seeing the abilities of the woman in front of them, instead determining that she was just another pretty face.

In The Only Woman in the Room, Marie Benedict gives a compelling, fictionalized account of the life of this remarkable woman. She follows Lamarr from her time as a young adult and burgeoning star of the theatre in Vienna, to her escape from the Nazi threat as she fled to London and then to the United States, where Louis B. Mayer made her a film star. Through it all, Lamarr always strove to be more than a celebrity, and for her intellect and ideas to be accepted. She was never satisfied with the fame and financial security her career in motion pictures afforded her.

In her previous novels, The Other Einstein and Carnegie’s Maid, Benedict told fictionalized tales of strong, intelligent women and their impacts on historically significant men. In The Only Woman in the Room, she focuses solely on Lamarr and how she was not only able to use other’s perceptions of her to gain what she wanted, but how she repeatedly refused to be defined by those perceptions. This is a fascinating story about a remarkable woman who is only now being recognized for her accomplishments off the silver screen.

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