The Last Waltz, a Whitney Award Winner and epic tale by G.G. Vandagriff, is the story of Amalia, a beautiful woman who learns about love and finding purpose during the first of the 20th Century in Austria. At nineteen, while recovering from the shock that her fiancé, Eberhard, has chosen the glory of war over marriage, she encounters the passion that Andrzej stirs in her when he asks her to dance.
Eberhard had always performed the dance in a precise, stately manner. But from the very beginning, this was a new experience. This partner swept her with easy grace. . . through the perpetual turns and dips, ever faster, until, in spite of herself, she began to feel an exhilarating sensation akin to flight. . . .
Their social banter dropped away. The room about them seemed to recede and disappear until they were alone. Slowly, the entire tenor of the experience changed.
Her social persona dissolved in the wake of this new exhilaration, and Amalia felt transparent as glass. This man with the strange green eyes, no longer laughing, was looking straight through to her soul. . . .
Amalia saw [in him] the possibility of devotion, an old-fashioned chivalry and sense of honor that contrasted absolutely with his outward actions. The arm around her waist tightened, once more pulling her close.
Frightened of the emotions generated with Andrzej, Amalia flees to Berlin and is married to Eberhard. But despite her devotion, his mis-guided quest to prove himself in war ends tragically. As a widow, Amalia returns to her home in Vienna while World War I comes to a close. And yet, like a possesive partner in a dance, Germany is not ready to concede, but grips Austria ever tighter as it moves across Europe. Amalia finds herself swept up in political intrigues, her own dreams of democracy and floundering attempts to find love.
Awakened first by the passion of two souls connecting, she also learns of the love that comes from pity, the love that is born when she became a mother, the love for her country that burns fiercely to the end, and the love that grows through devotion and sacrifice and that binds two people together while the world around them falls apart.
Some have likened The Last Waltz to Gone with the Wind meets The Sound of Music. There’s also a touch of A Tale of Two Cities in the ending. But to me, it’s mostly a story about a woman who finds herself. Amalia finds that she can make a difference in a world gone mad; she finds that a lasting relationship must have something deeper than passion [though the passion continues to draw her to Andrzej]. And Amalia comes to realize that some things are worth sacrificing everything for.
G.G. Vandagriff is the author of more than a dozen books and a regular contributer to Meridian Magazine. For more about G.G. Vandagriff, read here.