The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War

The Year is 1914. Austrian socialite, Amalia Faulhaber, stands on the cusp of womanhood while the world stands on the brink of the worst war it has ever known. Which of the three men in her life will she choose to marry?

  • The Prussian officer with his Teutonic ideals?
  • The charming Polish doctor with dreams he dare not utter?
  • Or the Austrian baron who is determined to guide his country on a course away from fascism and another war?

How will the Great War and the ensuing years shape Amalia,and how will she shape the lives of the men who love her?

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.

Reviews:

“It’s 1913 and the world is teetering on the brink of World War I. In the critically-acclaimed novel, The Last Waltz, award-winning author GG Vandagriff gives us an amazing glimpse into the volatile politics of Austria during the 1914-1938 era that eventually brings the Austrian people under Hitler’s rule. The Last Waltz is a beautiful story of love, but even more fascinating is learning about the Austrians and their role in the First World War, a century ago.. From the glittering aristocratic society rises a people who plunge wholeheartedly into preserving their country and their heritage, as a grand nation struggles to emerge from the depths of war.” –Heather B. Moore, USA Today bestselling author of Heart of the Ocean, multi-award winning author of Historical Fiction

“The Last Waltz is a book to savor. It educates; it is filled with action; the tender love story is mirrored in the political conflicts of the day, it is filled with points to ponder, and it entertains.” –Meridian Magazine.

Exile

It is 1938, and Austria has just fallen to the Nazis. In these dark days before World War II, Amalia von Schoenenburg finds herself widowed and fleeing from the Nazi regime that took her husband’s life. Together with her two teenage sons, Amalia relies on her first love, Andrzej, to take her to England where they must deliver a vital message to Mr. Winston Churchill. But Amalia can’t deny the past and her long-buried love for Andrzej. As they struggle against Nazi minions across Europe and in England, Amalia’s passion for Andrzej revives. But those feelings only compound her grief and guilt, and she must once again choose whether or not to follow her heart or keep it protected forever.
 
Reviews
 
Author G.G. Vandagriff brings readers what is possibly her best work yet in “Exile.” Vandagriff masterfully weaves a tale of conflicted romance into the pre-WWII era, bringing the terror, sadness and anger of Hitler’s reign out of history and into the hands of readers. Vandagriff does an excellent job balancing fact and fiction. –Deseret News A+ Review
 
  This novel was exceptional. It was historically accurate, yet entertaining and involving at the same time. I appreciated the author’s ability to weave correct historical events with the fictional characters. I was engaged throughout the novel and also learned some things I didn’t know before. The characters were well developed and the storyline wasn’t frivolous in any regard. Everything had a purpose and tied together neatly at the end. I do wish that I knew what happened next, but I’m hoping there will be another book following this family. –Amazon Reader (5 Stars)
 
Right from the beginning, I was caught up in this intriguing and suspenseful book. I found Amalia and her sons to be amazing in what they had already gone through with the loss of Baron Rudolf, Amalia’s husband and then to themselves help Churchill to better understand just where Hitler was coming from in his quest to take over the world. Being somewhat familiar with this time in history, I can sympathize with Amalia and her two sons and their having to flee their homeland and take up residence in England. This was, indeed, a difficult time for all Europeans.The timeless love story of Amalia and Andrzej’s adds a personal touch to the story. Not only Amalia and Andrzej but also her sons were torn apart but also brought closer together by what was happening around them and what they chose to do to help Churchill and to move on themselves.This time in history is so disturbing that I often am unable to stay with a story surrounding the war but this book is so well written that I was not unable to put it down. I feared for our heroes and I sympathized with their plight throughout their adventures depicted in this book.Definitely a “must read” for anyone interested in this historical period of time. A love story, yes; but also a war story, or rather a pre-war story.I am now going to have to read “The Last Waltz” and do expect that I will be just a happy with that story as I am with this one. –Amazon Reader (Five Stars)

Defiance

As Hitler’s armies overrun France, Rudolf von Schoenenburg, a young Austrian baron, is living in exile in England. Though his true love, Hannah, is engaged to another man, Rudi and Hannah risk their lives together to help rescue thousands of British Troops from Dunkirk. Their powerful love story develops against the backdrop of the Battle of Britain and an old world being blown to pieces.

Rudi’s family and friends suffer under the nightly barrage of bombs and rockets of the London Blitz while he pilots a British fighter plane in what looks like an impossible defense of the small island. Each night is a desperate fight for survival, each dawn a miracle.

While Hannah spends her days and nights helping to provide early warning of German air attacks, she realizes that every hour of every day is precious. Each moment carries the threat of sudden death. As the world around her changes, should Hannah allow her passion for Rudi to overcome promises she made to her dying father in what seems like another lifetime?

Reviews

These stories are filled with well-crafted characters with tremendous courage, who face the horror of war, loss of people and places dear to them, yet remain human with all the doubts and fears that even honorable people face in times of tremendous stress and exhaustion. They grow and mature realistically, sometimes in small increments and sometimes in moments of great epiphany. Whether it’s the love between a parent and child or the love between a man and a woman, these feelings are not taken lightly after so much loss. –Meridian Magazine Five Star Review

I loved GG Vandagriff’s THE LAST WALTZ, the novel that started this wonderful historical series. DEFIANCE brings back favorite characters, Amalia and her sons, as they live in London, with WWII starting to rage in the surrounding countries. True to Vandagriff’s form, the historical details are rich and vibrant, the political intrigue fascinating, and the characters breathe life into every event. I’ve read a half-dozen WWII novels this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed this viewpoint of the war seen from London’s stratagem. It never ceases to amaze me the havoc Hitler created and the lives that were put into jeopardy or were lost through the terrible world wars. Vandagriff brings an essential humanism to the era and helps her readers to never forget the past. A wonderful tribute to the brave men and women who went before us. As always, Vandagriff’s characters are multi-faceted, full of integrity, and steeped in valor even when faced with difficult tragedies and choices. Readers will come away inspired and grateful. –Heather Moore, USA Today Bestselling Author. Five Stars