I’ve struggled to write this review for a while now and I procrastinated it again and again. Mainly because it’s been a while since I read “Save me the waltz” by Zelda Fitzgerald and also because when I read it on vacation, I devoured it in a day. So the details have become a little blurry in my mind and I feel like I can’t write such a profound review about this novel. What I do know, however, is that “Save me the waltz” would have deserved such a review and I feel sorry that I can’t provide it.
Before I started reading this book I knew the history of Fitzgerald and her husband of course and I had already read a few of his books, including “Tender is the night”. History, media and pop culture have turned the couple into icons of an era – the Jazz age, the lost generation, the roaring twenties – and their reputation often precedes the knowledge about their works.
When I decided to read “Save me the waltz” I was interested to read a book written by Zelda Fitzgerald and I wanted to read it as an independent work of art – to whatever extent reading a book about whose author you’re already so well informed can be independent from preconceived notions and ideas.
But to me it was important to read “Save me the waltz” as an independent novel and not as some half-done counterpart to “Tender is the night” as some critics seem see it because it is equally important to me to think of Zelda Fitzgerald as an artist in her own right and not as the wife of someone more important. So you can understand my disappointment when the back cover and the introduction seemed to be more concerned with the author, her marriage and her biography than with a analytical reflection of the book, it’s writing and plot.
“Save me the waltz” tells the story of Alabama Beggs beginning with her childhood in the South of the USA and ending with the death of her father several decades later. Alabama eventually falls for David Knight, an artist, with whom she moves to New York. David becomes famous, the couple have a child and move to Europe.
Eventually their marriage begins to crumble because of their romances with other people and their respective careers. In Paris Alabama becomes determined to be a ballerina and devotes herself to dancing and following her ambition. When she gets the opportunity to dance with a company in Italy and leaves her family behind to pursue her dream.
Although there were some rather word choices throughout “Save me the waltz” that seemed rather extravagant to a non-native speaker like me, I enjoyed reading this entertaining and interesting novel. I also liked that it had an open ending which is something that I personally really value in a book. Overall, it was a quick but enjoyable read. The perfect vacation novel for someone who likes to read older books.
However, I need to point out that in this novel, just as in other works I’ve read from this era (for example by Virginia Woolf), racism is present. Most notably in one scene where the characters discuss where to draw the line when it comes to the skin colour of their lovers. From a more modern and reflected point of view that dialogue was painful to read.
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Have you read “Save me the waltz” or one of the books by Fitzgerald’s husband?