Sex sells. That is common knowledge. This book is getting good reviews so obviously it is selling here. Maria Callas would NEVER have wanted to be sexually exploited this way for someone to make a profit. Even if it is historical fiction, she NEVER would have wanted to be vividly described in sexual situations. She is referred to as a “sex puppy” in the book. Doing this to a great artist for cheap thrills is disgusting. The privacy of Maria’s intimate life was deeply personal to her. I have a friend that knew her personally who has informed me about some of her personal affairs but even without this source it would be obvious to me just by looking at her that she is a sensitive woman and would not want this. I stopped reading in the middle of the book because it made me want to throw up.
The novel itself is fiction but there are notes in the back of the book describing what happened in real life. A scathing description of Ari’s behavior toward Maria is included in this. I have watched the documentary Maria by Callas many times. She writes that she was profoundly hurt when Ari got married behind her back. I won’t suger coat that. But she also writes that after he ended his marriage to Jackie he came back and admitted his mistake. She describes that after she took him back they never quarreled anymore. They talked things out constructively. She writes that he stopped arguing. As much as he had wronged her in the past, in her own words it sounds like he really made the effort to change and become a better person. Would she want us to hold a grudge when they worked out their issues? Would she want us to dwell on his past wrong doings to her without also acknowledging that he made an effort to change? I have read so much information about Maria that has no solid evidence, it has made me come to the point where I only believe anything about her one hundred percent if I have heard it in her own words. Anything other than that I question. Are these reports of Ari’s bad behavior in her own words? Even if they are true, based on Maria’s writing I feel she would not want us to hold a grudge against him. This statement is not so much about defending him, it is about respecting her choice to forgive him.
I am over all not happy with the experience I had reading this book and am only giving it one star but that one star is for something I did appreciate. And that is the author defending Maria when she was faced with misogyny in the work place. This is not uncommon for strong women like her. Maria worked hard to bring out the best in her art and she often took on a leadership role. She strived to bring out the best in everyone involved. She had profound respect for the composers and aimed to do everything thing she could to do justice to their great works. If a man had this attitude he would be considered a leader. If a woman does, she is considered difficult. The author of this book makes a very clear case for that which I am very greatful for and know that Maria would be too.