October 16, 2009

The Last Waltz

"Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere." -Hazel Rochman

I started The Last Waltz, A Novel of Love and War, by G.G. Vandagriff, yesterday at 11:00 am, after my chores were done. I read until 2:00 this morning, and stayed up another hour thinking.
Historical novels, when done well, draw you in, make you forget where and when you are, teach you about the time almost interactively, and have you loving, fighting, struggling and triumphing with the characters.
After reading all the research and life G.G. Vandagriff put into this novel (it was twenty years in the making), I had to put it on my reading list. I wanted to see what this well educated, enduring woman could do with her knowledge and experience.
And I had just studied this era, 1913-1938, through WWI and II, last semester. Most of what I knew about Austria came from Sound of Music. I have Austrian blood, as does my husband, a descendant of the Strasser line, the famous singers of Gruber's Silent Night... my mother-in-law's maiden name is Strasser, and yes, she has a lovely singing voice, as do her six brothers and sisters. So, as I read, I found myself keenly aware of my connection, my ancestry, roaming the streets of Vienna and Salzburg in the background. When house help was mentioned, I pictured my great grandmother, leaving Austria with her sister for America before the German Anschluss. I was carried away.
For a closer look at this novel of love and war, click here.
G.G. Vandagriff is The Writer in the Cranberry Tower, linked here and below, right. She is currently in Italy, luckily researching her latest novel. I love her posts.
Thank you, G.G. I feel like I just sought out of the best books (Doctrine & Covenants 88:118). And it is still on my mind.

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