Sumter museum presents 2019's 1st author luncheon

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 1/10/19

The Sumter County Museum presents its first author luncheon of 2019 with the Monday appearance of Marie Benedict, whose latest novel, “The Only Woman in the Room,” was released Tuesday. Her …

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Sumter museum presents 2019's 1st author luncheon

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The Sumter County Museum presents its first author luncheon of 2019 with the Monday appearance of Marie Benedict, whose latest novel, “The Only Woman in the Room,” was released Tuesday. Her previous novels, “Carnegie’s Maid” and “The Other Einstein,” are USA Today bestsellers.

“The Only Woman in the Room,” like Benedict’s previous two novels, is a historical novel focusing on women whose contributions have been largely forgotten. Told in first person, part one of “The Only Woman in the Room” focuses on Hedy Lamarr’s life with and escape from her abusive and wealthy arms dealer husband in Austria as World War II is beginning. The second part concentrates largely on her life in the U.S.

Best known as an actress and widely considered during her acting career as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Lamarr carried “survivor’s guilt” throughout her life. This motivated her, with her friend George Antheil, to invent and patent a device that would ensure the accuracy of the United States Navy’s torpedoes while blocking the Axis’ ability to detect and destroy them. While the Navy refused to implement the invention during the war largely because of Lamarr’s gender, Benedict writes, the principles behind it later contributed to the development of the cellphone and Wi-Fi.

Benedict, a lawyer for 10 years at two of the country’s most prominent law firms, has described herself as an “archaeologist, unearthing women's stories from the detritus of history where they are buried." While Lamarr enjoyed fame for her beauty and her talent, Benedict concentrates more on Lamarr’s “interior life … (as) more interesting and fruitful than her exterior.”

The author’s use of the first person, also employed in her previous books, gives an intimacy to the story as it evokes empathy in its readers.

Benedict focused on history and art history and graduated magna cum laude from Boston College. She is also a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law.

The Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St., presents Marie Benedict at noon Monday. Admission, which includes lunch and a signed copy of “The Only Woman in the Room,” is $35 for museum members and $40 for non-members. Tickets are available online at www.sumtercountymuseum.org or by calling the museum at (803) 775-0908. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.