Book Review: The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict

The Only Woman in the RoomThe Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of “The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel” by Marie Benedict:

“The Only Woman in the Room” is a poignant and engaging historical fiction novel that sheds light on the remarkable life of Hedy Lamarr, a Hollywood actress and inventor who was ahead of her time. Benedict’s portrayal of Lamarr is historically accurate and deeply human, and she brings to life the struggles and triumphs of this complex and fascinating woman.

One of the things I appreciated about Benedict’s portrayal of Lamarr was how she emphasized her intelligence and creativity. Lamarr was a brilliant inventor who made significant contributions to the field of communications technology, but she was often dismissed or underestimated because of her beauty and fame. Benedict does an excellent job highlighting both sides of Lamarr’s personality, showing us the woman behind the screen siren.

Throughout the book, Benedict includes interesting quotes from Lamarr’s writings and interviews, adding depth and nuance to the character. One of my favorites was Lamarr’s comment about her beauty: “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” It’s a sharp and self-aware observation that encapsulates Lamarr’s frustration with being pigeonholed as a pretty face.

There is also controversy surrounding Lamarr’s life, and Benedict does not shy away from addressing it. Lamarr was married to an arms dealer and was accused of collaborating with him to sell weapons to the Nazis. While the book does not dwell on this aspect of her life, it does acknowledge the controversy and portrays Lamarr as a complex and flawed individual.

Overall, “The Only Woman in the Room” is a well-researched and compelling novel that offers a fresh perspective on a remarkable woman. Benedict’s writing is clear and evocative, and her portrayal of Lamarr is sympathetic and honest. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in history, Hollywood, or the role of women in science and technology.

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