By Gertrude Mueller von Deham
Edited by Jen Cowie
Contributions by Cynthia Schubert
AN UNUSUAL CHILDHOOD
Mixed Relations is the ﬁrst book of a trilogy which begins in the late 19th century. A 15-year-old girl rebels against her Victorian parents and elopes with her new lover. When the marriage fails, the girl is shunned by her family. Desperately poor and hungry, she joins a traveling troupe. Within weeks she is the only remaining performer and travels with her very wealthy royal lover posing as his wife. A year later, she gives birth to an unwanted child named Evelyn. Throughout her childhood, Evelyn knew her late father was a member of the British nobility who had left her an inheritance but knew very little about him or even the fact that she was illegitimate.
Having been conditioned by her very young, resentful mother that she was unworthy of any love or kindness, Evelyn was determined to gain an education and escape from her ever-increasingly volatile mother. Living in London as Evelyn is nearing her 25th birthday, the year she will inherit her wealth, Evelyn looks forward to a future away from her mother's control but will she escape or is she too conditioned in her role as her mother’s protector?
This tale of courage, tenacity, compassion and often lack thereof, is the true story of Gertrude Müeller von Deham. Written in her own hand, the text reads as authentic and heartfelt; brimming over with the colourful imagination and uncertainties of childhood. Her humility and pride shine in equal measure with self-doubt and a crowning sense of accomplishment when things come right.
Author Gertrude Mueller von Deham tells a touching story, one which is beautifully chronicled and delivers everything you could want from an emotional and inspirational autobiography right out of the pages of history. The stories are beautifully presented and own a smooth and enjoyable narrative style. Reading first-hand the experiences of a young woman who feels constrained by her gender and wants to break free of its shackles is a true inspiration and empowerment for us all. I would highly recommend Mixed Relations: An Unusual Childhood for any reader seeking a vibrant and realistic autobiography that sheds light on a very special time, and a very special person indeed.
- K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite - Rating 5 Stars
Mixed Relations by Gertrude Mueller von Deham is such a compelling read. Throughout the entire story, I was reminded of how difficult it was for females to gain an education in that era. Evelyn fought hard and her determination to succeed was inspiring. There were some amazing characters throughout the novel. The relationship between Evelyn and her mother was extremely toxic and unhealthy and I admired Evelyn's loyalty to her mother but found it desperately sad too. I really didn't want the story to end and I am intrigued about what is going to happen to Evelyn as she enters the next phase of her life.
- Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite - Rating 5 Stars
For someone who grows up in a painful and traumatizing environment, Evelyn's positive attitude is inspiring. I found the storytelling to be authentic and engaging. It captures the characters' perspectives and emotions. Historical detail also adds depth to the novel. Mixed Relations is a powerful historical autobiography about one woman's endurance and fortitude which is evident from her ability to overcome her limiting, isolating childhood.
- Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite - Rating 5 Stars
One of the fascinating aspects of Mixed Relations is the detailed narrative of Gertrude Müller von Deham's relationship with her mother and in the way she was brought up. The emotional content can move you to tears. The volatile nature of the girl who had taken so much oppression at her tender age gave her no glimpse at what the future would provide for her. In reading this stunning account of her upbringing, you can look forward to reading her subsequent life adventures, as this is only the first in the trilogy of a life that is well-told.
- Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite - Rating 5 Stars
NAVIGATING THE STORMY WATERS OF MARRIED LIFE
This second book in the Mixed Relations trilogy is the account of Gertrude Müller’s journey into married life with a difficult, objectionable husband. Having been raised by a cruel, demanding mother she finds herself oddly well prepared to navigate these stormy waters. Finally able to really live her life instead of watching others from the shadows, she thrives on her love of the excitement of financial journalism and the associated intrigue; journeying across Europe as her husband's messenger and feeling truly an essential part of a greater world than she ever dared imagine. Raising 3 children through the first world war in starving Vienna, she proves herself resourceful and brave in her exploits as a more than competent partner to her husband as well as a fiercely devoted mother. Her courage, quick thinking and tenacity are tested repeatedly as she skillfully learns to stretch the truth in order to cross borders, put food on a wartime table and help her family and friends during uncertain times. As her husband gets closer to the position he desires at the newspaper, she finds that he is willing to make some sacrifices to get there that just won’t do.
AN UNEXPECTED ENDING
This third book in the Mixed Relations trilogy is the story of Gertrude Müller von Deham’s rise to become the ‘Soul of Moloch’ and one of Vienna’s most celebrated socialites. Her natural curiosity and wry humour made her a favorite amongst her set.While trying to keep her errant husband in line, she simultaneously struggles to keep her impetuous children steady on their life paths as they also experience the intense vagaries of love and married life.When the horrors of WWII begin, she uses her extensive network and a hearty dose of truth stretching to try to secure safe passage out of Austria for Jewish friends and loved ones and as many of their belongings as possible.This story is an inspiration that speaks to living life with a positive attitude regardless of your circumstances as well as the karmic reality of kindness, compassion and loyalty.It is also a very disturbing reminder of the ugliness and cruelty of misguided power and the horrors of racism.
From the Editor
Upon reading the diaries of her grandmother, my mother, Cynthia, was fascinated by the life that she had led, her adventures and misadventures, her indomitable spirit and courage and decided that she would make writing her grandmother's story her retirement project.
On a visit to my father several years ago, I decided to make myself useful and clean out the closet in his guest room. As I dug through old boxes making piles of things to toss or donate, I found one box full of writing. Small boxes and envelopes full of loose leaf scrawlings and type-written pages sat atop 2 case bound books which hadn't been opened for over 40 years. Upon reading the books, I realized that my great-grandmother, Gertrude Müeller von Deham, had written her own life story...so much for Mom's retirement project.
It was confusing at first, as Gertrude had changed all the names in the book. My great-grandfather's name was Stephan, not Eric and the surname was Müeller not Műhlfeld. Her name was Gertrude, not Evelyn. Her children's names were also different. When we decided to publish this book, not knowing why she made the changes, we decided to keep it as she wrote it.
Over the course of several years, Cynthia and I transcribed the books and edited and re-edited. This story that began in 1877 and ends in 1938 is an authentic tale of an unusually resilient woman who lived and raised a family through 2 world wars and fought like a dervish for herself and those she loved.
It is an extreme privilege for me to be able to read about what kind of child, wife and mother my great-grandmother was, what my grandmother was like as a child and very satisfying, though at times a little disconcerting, to see some of the qualities passed along our matrilineal line.
I am so grateful that her hard work finally goes to press so that her story can at last be told.
~ Jen Cowie