Review: “Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family”

When I was a child my favorite movie was the The Sound of Music. I think being an only child, living with just my mother, made me appreciate a large, loving, two-parent family enormously. My favorite book, Cheaper By The Dozen, about a fun-loving family of twelve children, settles it.

Maria Von Trapp, the mother of the large family in The Sound of Music, wrote her book of memoirs that the movie was based on, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers in 1946. Author of several books, she has an exuberant writing style that is natural, pulls you in, and makes you want to be right there in the action.

Originally from Austria, the family who were a very talented folk singing group, fled during World War II to escape the Nazis and came to America in 1938. The family built, mostly on their own, a large home in rural Vermont, and a lodge for visitors to stay and hear their concerts. They toured the world singing, and some, including Maria, became Catholic missionaries to Papua New Guinea. They were always on the go and had seemingly endless energy. Once they decided on a project, whether it was a family singing tour, building a barn, clearing land, or creating a restaurant, they all pitched in and got it done in short order.

In 1955, Maria published “Around the World With the Trapp Family.” She wrote about how their family lived their Catholic faith in Austria throughout the year. I’ve read a few of her books, but this has been long out of print. Sophia Institute Press, has now republished it, so this wonderful Catholic life can be enjoyed by everyone.

My first impression upon receiving it was that this is one substantial book. Hardcover and beautifully printed, this book is meant to be kept for years, and meant to be used all through the year.

The contents follow the liturgical year, explaining the seasons and why we celebrate them. Each feast day is lovingly explored with songs and music, recipes, and simple crafts, along with wonderful memories of Catholic family life in Austria before WWII.

A separate section elaborates on how to celebrate each Sacrament within the family, anniversaries, birthdays and other special family moments, including how to handle sickness and death within the family. There is a definite focus on the spiritual life and the life beyond. I found the section on how they actually lived Sundays to be particularly significant in our culture that treats Sunday with no sense of the sacred. 

What is so lovely about this book is that Maria explains the faith and how to incorporate it into your family’s life so beautifully. It makes one long for a time past when faith was seamlessly woven into the tapestry of the community. We can, at least, weave it into our own family’s life now. It would be great to start the New Year with this book.

I really enjoyed it and recommend it to you. Sophia Institute Press is having a 25% off sale for Christmas, but you have to act on it now. Use the
Use Discount Code radio25 when ordering the book using this link:  http://sophiainstitute.com/aroundtheyear.




You Need A Makeover!

Let me tell you about a new book – my favorite thing to tell you about!  I have had a chance to look at a great new book by Teresa Tomeo.  Her book Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture is coming out October 7th and it is great.

Teresa Tomeo is a former secular news reporter and anchor who came back to the Church.  She is a successful author with several books, and is an EWTN host on radio and TV, and is a host on Ave Maria Radio.  I have to admit I did not know much about Teresa Tomeo and had not had the opportunity to read her work before, but she is wonderful.  Very down to earth and enjoyable.

Extreme Makeover seems to have two purposes, one is to show some of the common deceptions of our culture and how it – and the media – have betrayed us.  Teresa shows us the truth with hard facts about  radical feminism, abortion, “free sex”, etc. and relates those to Church teaching.  Body image and eating disorders are SO common among women, and all that really plays into how women relate to others and God.  Her point is to really show you the truth and gives you lots of resources to show others too.

The second part of her book is how to transform yourself to how Christ wants you to be – to have a spiritual “makeover.”  We as women need to find our true beauty. We need to discover how God truly loves us, how we are his beloved daughters, and he made us for beauty outside and inside too.  Our culture promotes a different kind of woman – self-centered, selfish, even cruel.  What I love about this book is the personal testimonies of how Teresa, and other women, found the truth – how their journeys happened and how it changed their lives.

I really think you will benefit from this book and I urge you to order it.  It would make a great Christmas gift.  I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to think ahead this year – for once!  If you want to read a deeper review of this book, Cheryl Dickow over at Catholic Lane has a good one.  And also head on over to Teresa Tomeo’s website, where she has her other great books too.