In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.
Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.
Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?
Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.
“Terrific . . . An intimate, absorbing portrait of a complicated woman whose talents and passions propelled her to the center of fin de siècle Vienna.”
– Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World
“Sharratt has composed a passionate symphony for Alma Mahler, a woman who was more than a muse to the greats. She was also a talent in her own right, stifled by society and the passions of the many men who pursued her. This heartfelt, feminist tribute makes for a compelling and sophisticated tale!”
– Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling author of America’s First Daughter
“Alma Mahler’s unexpected, often heartbreaking journey from muse to independence comes to vivid, dramatic life in Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY. Sharratt skillfully evokes turn-of-the-century Vienna and the musical genius of the era, returning Alma to her rightful place in history as both the inspiration to the men in her life and a gifted artist in her own right.”
– C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel
Mary Sharratt’s explorations into the hidden histories of Renaissance women compelled her to write her most recent work, THE DARK LADY’S MASK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016), based on the dramatic life of the ground-breaking poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier.
Born in Minnesota, Mary now lives with her Belgian husband in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL, which recasts the Pendle Witches of 1612 in their historical context as cunning folk and healers.
Previously she lived for twelve years in Germany. This, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write her award-winning ILLUMINATIONS: A NOVEL OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN, which explores the dramatic life of the 12th century Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau.
Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Gold Award, the 2005 WILLA Literary Award, and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Mary has also written the novels SUMMIT AVENUE, THE REAL MINERVA, THE VANISHING POINT, and co-edited the subversive fiction anthology BITCH LIT, which celebrates female anti-heroes–strong women who break all the rules. Her short fiction has been published in Twin Cities Noir and elsewhere.
Her newest novel ECSTASY, exploring the life of one of the most intriguing women of turn-of-the-century Vienna, will be published on April 10, 2018.
Mary’s articles and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Minnesota Magazine, and Historical Novels Review. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually riding her spirited Welsh mare through the Lancashire countryside.