Before Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood bombshell, she was Hedy Kiesler, a young woman from an affluent Jewish family in Vienna pursuing a career on the stage. Times were changing in 1933 when she caught the fancy of Fredrick Mandl, owner of a munitions factory and extremely well connected with those in power. His nickname was The Merchant of Death, but with those changing times Hedy’s father thought it would be far too dangerous to turn away the handsome older man. To her surprise Hedy found Fredrick good company; urbane and intelligent. When he proposed, her father thought he might provide protection they would need as the Jewish population’s position in society altered dramatically. Once married, things changed. Fredrick liked to be in control and demanded obedience to his will. As the political climate became more dangerous, his associates changed too, until they included Adolph Hitler. Hedy made a dramatic escape, becoming the legendary Hollywood siren.
Less well known are her scientific accomplishments. She had a strong interest in science, a brilliant mind, and access to the best scientists of the day in her husband’s factory along with his extensive library. She longed to contribute in a meaningful way to the war effort in defeating Hitler. If you are using a cell phone today, it was made possible by a discovery patented by Hedy Lamar during WWII. A fascinating account of a woman of many talents.— Deon Stonehouse
February 2019 Indie Next List
“The Only Woman in the Room is the story of a woman who recreated herself several times over the course of her lifetime, as an actress who was a constant disappointment to her mother, a wife who learned state secrets about the Nazis, a refugee who convinced a movie mogul to cast her in his films, and a genius who developed a system to track German torpedoes but was turned away by the U.S. military because they believed she was too beautiful to be smart. The story of Hedy Lamarr is so much more than that of a Hollywood actress and war refugee. The fictional account Marie Benedict has woven is insightful, moving, and impossible to put down!”
— Kristin Pidgeon, Riverstone Books, Pittsburgh, PA
Winter 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Marie Benedict has once again brought a deserving woman out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Hedy Lamarr, although well-known for her triumphs on the silver screen, should be featured in history classes for her contributions to science. Compelling, fascinating, and impossible to put down, The Only Woman in the Room is another triumph for Benedict.”
— Mary O'Malley, Anderson's Bookshop (La Grange), La Grange, IL
The New York Times and USA Today Bestseller
She possessed a stunning beauty. She also possessed a stunning mind. Could the world handle both?
Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich's plans while at her husband's side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.
But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis...if anyone would listen to her.
A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.