Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Last Waltz by GG Vandargriff - BLOG TOUR!

I have an amazing author and a phenomenal book to share with you today, one that fans of historical fiction have to add to their "must-read" list! Many thanks to Nurture Virtual Book Tourz for allowing me to participate in this blog tour - what a treat!

Book Summary:

In December 1913, the city of Vienna glitters with promises of the future for sought- after debutante Amalia Faulhaber. But life takes a dramatic turn when simmering political unrest escalates into the most deadly war the world has ever known. Amalia is devastated when her fiance, Baron Eberhard von Waldburg, breaks off their engagement to return to his native Germany and obligatory military service. But she soon discovers that her passion for democracy in an increasingly fascist world has put everything she loves in danger. Her family torn apart and impoverished by the war, Amalia must now choose between an idealistic young Polish doctor, who shares her political views, and the wealthy Baron von Schoenenburg, an Austrian Cabinet minister who promises to provide safety and security in a violent, tumultuous time. Reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, this epic novel explores the nature of human character and the elusive search for love and peace.

About the Author:

I realize that I am one of those rare people in the world who gets to live a life full of passion, suspense, angst, fulfillment, humor, and mystery. I am a writer. Everyday when I sit down to my computer, I enter into world of my own making. I am in the head of a panoply of characters ranging from a nineteen year-old Austrian debutante (The Last Waltz) to a raging psychopath (The Arthurian Omen) and four women at once in The Only Way to Paradise.

How did this come about? I think I was wired to be a writer when I was born. Even though my formal career was in finance, writing was all I really wanted to do. There were a lot of things about my surroundings that I couldn't control during my growing up years, so I retreated to whatever alternate existence I was creating. The habit stuck, and now my family finds themselves living in my current reality during dinnertime as I overflow with enthusiasm about Wales or Italy.

I studied writing in an advanced workshop when I was at Stanford, but was discouraged because everyone but me wanted to be J.D. Salinger. I hadn't yet found my writing voice. But with my study abroad in Austria, I finally found the story I wanted to tell--the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its collapse into fascism. (I never for a moment thought that this might be a bit ambitious.) I eventually began this project while commuting to and from my job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. I had an outline. My studies abroad had given me the historical background. Using that, I created characters as prototypes of the ideas that existed in Austria in 1913. Then, while teaching economics and waiting for my first child to be born, I read all of Churchill's books on World War One, and everything I could get my hands on that would give me the zeitgeist (literally "time spirit") of the age.

By the time my three children were born, I had a draft, but I knew it wasn't going anywhere. It was too superficial. I didn't understand the European mind. I couldn't convey the degree of suffering they had endured, nor the trauma the Austrians experienced at the collapse of their empire.

I turned to writing a more modern story that was semi-autobiographical at that point. I was living in the Ozarks, full of conflicted feelings that I worked out over the course of five years in the novel that has now become Pieces of Paris. However, I knew also that that project had not yet lived up to its potential. Discouraged, I turned to writing what I read--light mysteries. For color I imparted to my heroines another passion of mine--genealogy. Finally, I felt significantly secure to submit something and I was published.

However, for fifteen years, I had been the victim of bi-polar disorder (a common ailment among writers), and after publishing three books, I became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, I learned enough about overcoming pain, and about life and love to be able to complete my Austrian project. That became The Last Waltz. After two more mysteries, I was able to complete Pieces of Paris.

I am, at this writing, 63 years old, and for the last eighteen months I have turned my eyes toward Italy. My new book "The Only Way to Paradise" is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. Of course, the art and landscape are spectacular, but what makes my heart sing are the people. I think that they are born with a genetic tendency to agape (unconditional love). I have experienced so many kind and loving experiences at their hands, most of which are chronicled fictitiously in my book. I plan at least two more in the same setting--a mystery and a time travel.

I do genre-hop a lot, but I firmly believe that any endeavor that enables us to further understand ourselves, our world, and our loved ones is never wasted. I have chronicled much of what I have learned about PTSD from "Pieces" and "Paradise" on my new website http://PTSDweb.com.

Visit GG Vandargriff's website HERE
The Last Waltz Website
The Last Waltz on AMAZON
The Last Waltz for NOOK
GG Vandargriff's BLOG

Purchase ANY of G.G. Vandargriff's eBooks right now for $3.99!!  This is a great deal!

More about The Last Waltz

It is December of 1913 in Vienna and Amalia Faulhaber is surrounded by the whirlwind that is the life of a nineteen-year-old socialite. She is comfortable and confident in her wealth, her heritage, and most of all, in her engagement to the Prussian baron, Eberhard von Waldburg. All this comes crashing to a halt the day that her fiance informs her that their engagement is off since he is returning to Prussia to fight in what he is sure will be a glorious war.

Thus begins the tale of a heroine of extraordinary background and resource who develops into a woman who would be extraordinary in any age.

The men in her life—a German officer in World War I, a patriotic Polish doctor, and an Austrian Baron, all shape her, but more remarkably she shapes them. Her utopian socialist uncle has raised her with ideas outside those of the upper classes, imparting to her a more complete picture of the day than possessed by the other men in her life. This quality causes her to champion the Austrian Democratic Experiment and to especially mourn its demise.

The Last Waltz is full of little known history of a land that was, in 1913, the apex of the worlds of science, medicine, art, and music. The speed with which the five-hundred year old empire fell, and the reasons behind that failure carry many warnings for the world we live in today.

My Thoughts:

G.G. Vandargriff MUST have had me in mind when she was writing this book...because I feel like it was truly written for me!  I am a lover of historical fiction, LOVE pre-war Europe (especially those countries other than Germany), and a sucker for a good love story (even if it doesn't have a happy ending.)

Amalia's story reminds me so much of another book I read recently - AND ADORED!  The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman and this novel could be companions because the are so similar but the writing styles of each author make each a different, and phenomenal read.

Vandargriff's novel was touching in so many ways...Amalia's story was heartbreaking, and really does provide the basis for a story unlike any other.  I felt so very bad for her, but then again she was such a strongly written character you didn't want to feel sorry for her - because you knew she would come out of whatever situation she found herself in and rise above it.

Another incredible part of the novel was the setting - the author does a great job bringing attention to an area of Europe that many people probably don't know about.  Pre-war Austria was an intense place to live, and Amalia's story really brings this to light.  It is through her life's story that we really get a feel for how it must have been during this chaotic and uncertain time.

Another message that I take from this book and another book I have read recently called The Ballad of Tom Dooley is just how much war affects the people who aren't actually involved in it.  We always tend to feel sorry for the soldiers, and the men and women who are doing the actual fighting but we sometimes forget just how much the lives of everyday citizens are altered.  And how for many, life will never be the same after.  This novel really illustrated that nicely.

In addition to the actual novel, I would be remiss if I didn't mention just how pleasant this author is - in my communications with her she was lovely, and very classy!  That makes me like her novel even more!


  1. What a beautiful, insightful review! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. This sounds like a "can't miss" read to me.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Thanks for the great review, Lindsay! Just a couple of things--you made the most common error in the world by mispelling my last name. It's Vandagriff. I wouldn't be mentioning it, but I just want people to be able to find me. Also, the cover you showed was my OLD cover tied to my old publisher's website for ordering. The new cover is on the Blog Tour banner, is much prettier and also is tied to OW Press, the current publisher! But I'm so glad you loved the book!!!!

  4. Grr! I went over this like a fine-toothed comb! Can't believe I spelled your name wrong, SORRY! I am delighted to be able to feature your book!