The Last Waltz, by G.G. Vandagriff
Last Waltz is the story of an upper-class young woman from Vienna named
Amalia and the three men she loves: Eberhard, who is torn between his
love of music and the Prussian military ideals he was raised with;
Andrzej, the dangerous and romantic young Polish doctor; and Rudolf, the
good friend of Amalia's beloved uncle, who becomes her protector and
mentor. The story begins with Amalia as a naive young girl in the months
before World War One breaks out, and follows her through romance,
heartbreak, tragedy, and personal growth to the eve of World War Two,
when she has matured to realize there are many different ways to love
and that it's possible to love more than once in your life (contrary to
what she's been taught). She has also become a fervent Austrian patriot,
fighting in the few ways that are open to her as a woman to save her
country from both the Communists and the Nazis.
The book takes a
close look at a fascinating time in history - the leadup to and early
years of WWI, which I don't know much about, and the years before WWII,
which I know a little more about. The history is interesting and I
enjoyed the look at how ordinary people (albeit people of the upper
classes) were trying to live their lives amidst those momentous events. I
found myself less interested in the political ins and outs of Austria
in the late 1930s. But that's just me; I'm less interested in political
details than I am in the larger events of history. If you are interested
in those details, they are written out very clearly and obviously based
on careful, thorough research.
Romance and angst abound, and I
did find myself growing frustrated with Amalia, Eberhard, Andrzej, and
Rudolf's seeming inability to make good decisions where love was
concerned. Simple misunderstandings that could have been sorted out with
an honest conversation instead led to years of heartache. But given the
time period and society the book is set in, maybe it isn't realistic to
expect that those kinds of conversations would have taken place.
Amalia's attraction to Eberhard, Andrzej, and Rudolf is easy to
understand, as is theirs to her. The Last Waltz is sweet romance, with
no on-screen sex though there are a few brief and non-explicit
references to off-screen sexual activity.
lot of dialogue, and a lot of telling what people are thinking and
feeling, and little action until the very end, a thrilling escape
attempt from Austria after the Nazis take over. For my taste, I would
have liked a little more showing through action and less telling of what
the characters were thinking and feeling. In addition, transitions from
one scene to the next were kind of abrupt and disorienting for my
taste, and the end also seemed kind of abrupt; I would have liked a
scene or an epilogue giving more resolution and hinting at where things
go from there. I came to care about the characters and wanted to know
what life had in store for them after the events at the end.
world of Vienna from 1913-1938 is painted in colorful detail, bringing
its beauty, glamour, and ebullience to life. I visited Vienna for a week
as a child, and reading The Last Waltz made me want to go back
If you enjoy sweeping and well-researched historical
novels filled with romance in a vivid setting with well-drawn
characters, I recommend The Last Waltz.
For reading list and more reviews, see my main Clean Out Your eReader post.